The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot, 2018.
Directed by Robert D. Krzykowski.
Starring Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Sean Bridgers, Caitlin FitzGerald, Larry Miller, Kelley Curran.
A man kills Hitler and then later in later life kills the Bigfoot. No, really…
Every so often a movie comes along that just connects; you don’t know why and when asked you can’t explain it – it just does, and even when the title of said movie is as brilliant as The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot people will still ask “what is it about?”.
The short answer is that it is about exactly what you think it is about – a man, in this case Calvin Barr (at this point in the movie played by Poldark’s Aidan Turner), does indeed kill Hitler in a revisionist version of World War II before we join him in later life (now played by Sam ‘Road House‘ Elliott) where he is reflecting on his life before being visited by government officials who ask the war hero to go on one last mission to kill the last remaining Bigfoot, which is carrying a disease that could potentially spread to humans and wipe us all out.
Both of those events do happen but context is key and they are merely incidental events in a story that plays out as a character study, not only of a man but also of an idea, that being the all-American hero; the patriot, if you will. Along with that character study you still get flashes of the film that your brain automatically imagines when you first hear that title – a snippet of a Rambo-esque tooling-up scene as Calvin Barr selects the weapons he requires to go and kill the Bigfoot, complete with ‘70s grindhouse-style zoom-in, along with some gorgeous wide shots of the landscape as Barr goes up to the wilds of Canada to hunt the creature, evoking more picturesque survival action movies such as Southern Comfort, Deliverance and First Blood – but between those set pieces the film flashes back to Barr’s younger years where, after killing Hitler, he meets and falls in love with schoolteacher Maxine (Caitlin FitzGerald – It’s Complicated) but the weight of his military life and the aftermath of what he did for his country whilst in Germany means he has to sacrifice love and happiness for duty.
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is, at its core, a heartfelt lamentation on regret and happiness versus responsibility, and despite the genre-mashing of the Hitler/Bigfoot incidents the film is really a drama, just not a typically straightforward one. The character of Calvin Barr’s younger brother Ed (Larry Miller – The Nutty Professor), a happily married man with children and grandchildren, is Calvin’s only connection to ‘normal’ life and has a different outlook on life to his brother, although the scenes they share are some of the most touching, not for sickly reasons but for the things that go unsaid between them. It sounds bizarre but the combination of Robert D. Krzykowski’s writing and both actors nailing every word and every sentiment makes it work and, like everything else in this movie, it is unconventional but you can guarantee you haven’t seen anything quite like it.
The 40-minute Behind the Scenes featurette offers up a few explanations of the thinking behind the story and how it all came together, and what comes across the most is how eager everyone was to get involved once they had read the script. Looking at Robert D. Krzykowski’s original sketches for the film it is obvious that Sam Elliott was the only choice for the part of Calvin Barr in his senior years and Elliott himself seems genuinely appreciative for the opportunity to be given such a part, and he does make the most of it in what is possibly his greatest role (although he also played Wade Garrett in Road House and that does take some beating). Aidan Turner also brings his A-game to playing the young Calvin Barr, not just mimicking Sam Elliott’s mannerisms but actually making you believe that you are watching the younger version of the character rather than an impersonation of the actor.
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is a wonderfully cinematic and heart-warming movie that won’t appeal to everyone – even if they can get past the title – but perhaps everyone should see at least once, if only to see how genre tropes and expectations can be toyed with in such a strange and rewarding way. The ending doesn’t quite have the punch that the film truly deserves after such a journey but it still leaves things open for interpretation that, at the very least, means you won’t discard it and move on like you would if it were the cheap grindhouse splatter-fest the title implies.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★