When I started the 44 Days of Paranoia, I said that I was going to not only look at some of the best conspiracy-themed films but some of the worst as well. With that promise in mind, today’s film is 1963’s They Saved Hitler’s Brain.
Beyond what’s obvious from the film’s title, what exactly is They Saved Hitler’s Brain about?
Your guess is as good as mine.
The film starts with a Mr. Van Pelt, who is a top official at the Central Intelligence Division. It turns out that Mr. Van Pelt is also a part of a shadowy conspiracy that operates out of the South American country of Mandoras. The conspiracy is developing a poison named as “G-gas” but a scientist named Dr. Bernard has developed an antidote to G-gas. So Van Pelt orders his henchmen to blow up Dr. Bernard in his car.
Van Pelt then assigns two CID agents to investigate Dr. Bernard’s death. Vic Gilbert is a real man’s man who is upset at having to work with a woman. Toni Gordon wears an extremely short miniskirt, demands to be taken seriously as a CID agent, and — well, that’s about the extent of her characterization. Anyway, Vic and Toni spend some time exchanging some cutesy dialogue and reading a lengthy dossier about Mandoras. It turns out that Mandoras is full of Nazi war criminals which, of course, brings us back to the film’s title.
Also, it turns out that Dr. Bernard told his colleague, Dr. Coleman, about the antidote. So, Van Pelt sends his henchmen to kidnap Coleman but fortunately, Toni just happens to be driving by at the same time that Coleman is kidnapped. Toni follows the henchmen and Coleman to Van Pelt’s secret hideout. The henchmen spot Toni and end up shooting her as she flees to a phone booth but not before Toni manages to call Vic.
Vic then shows up and discovers that Van Pelt is a traitor. Fortunately, Toni isn’t quite dead yet so she manages to shoot Van Pelt before she expires but then Vic dies anyway, the result of driving his car into a power station.
And then, suddenly, an entirely new movie begins!
That’s right — They Saved Hitler’s Brain is one of those films that was essentially created by editing two unrelated movies together. All of the Vic and Toni footage was apparently filmed in the late 60s by a bunch of students at UCLA who were hired by the film’s distributor to lengthen the original 1963 film so that it could be sold into television syndication. Considering that the original film (which was titled Madmen of Mandoras) was a thorough mess, the addition of the equally confusing prologue serves to make They Saved Hitler’s Brain into one of the most completely incoherent films ever made.
Anyway, the “second” part of They Saved Hitler’s Brain deals with Coleman’s daughter and her boyfriend (who, we find out, is yet another CID agent) going down to Mandoras and searching for her father. It turns out that the government of Mandoras has been secretly taken over by a bunch of Nazi war criminals who take their order from — wait for it — Hitler’s Brain!
It turns out that Hitler’s head has been preserved in a jar and, despite no longer having a body, he’s still capable of plotting, ordering people about, and dramatically rolling his eyes. From his hiding place in Mandoras, he’s come up with Plan G, a scheme that will allow him to conquer the world. Unless, of course, the CID can stop him…
(Were the filmmakers worried about getting sued by the CIA? Seriously, CID just doesn’t have the same ring to it…)
Now, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for terrible films like They Saved Hitler’s Brain. There are a lot of bad movies out there but there are only a few movies that are so bad that they’ve managed to become classics of ineptitude. To the filmmakers behind movies like They Saved Hitler’s Brain, I would say that if you can’t take pride in making one of the best films ever made, why not take some pride in making one of the worst?
You can judge for yourself below.