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1973's Hitler: The Last Ten Days is an Italian production starring mostly English actors and best remembered as the film where Alec Guinness plays Hitler. All three productions stay close to the historical facts, particularly the record of Hitler's personal secretary, one of the few survivors. To transform himself into Adolf Hitler, Guinness adopts a gruff manner and a croaking voice similar to that of Gully Jimpson in The Horse's Mouth. He's quite good as the desperate, tantrum-throwing monster cornered in his final lair. Berlin is falling quickly under the onslaught of the vengeful Russian army. Refusing to flee, Adolf Hitler (Alec Guinness) festers in the last concrete bunker surrounded by the surviving elite of the Third Reich [] Downfall trumps Hitler: The Last Ten Days in almost every respect, from its use of the German language to its interesting idea of telling the story through the experience of Hitler's secretary. Just the same, this respectable version works up a considerable mood of morbid dread. Guarded by a few S.S. fanatics, seventy-five holdouts live in a concrete box hammered day and night by artillery fire. The drug addled and disease ridden Hitler does his best to maintain his dignity, still behaving as if a good word from Der Führer is all that is needed to turn bad news into good. The rat-like Dr. Goebbels has toned down some of his poisonous rhetoric, but many present still consider Hitler the next thing to a god. [] Hitler: The Last Ten Days is enacted by a fine ensemble cast obviously eager to work with Alec Guinness. Director Ennio De Concini's work is mostly invisible, but he keeps the warren of concrete rooms from becoming stifling. [] Guinness gives the role his all, stressing Hitler's physical and mental decline. He's a quasi-senile, impatient monster accustomed to getting his way on all things and imposing his version of reality on other people. Roman Emperors might have been like this, but any selfish man exhibits some of the same bullying attitudes. To play Hitler, all Guinness really need do is behave like an intolerable, closed-minded father. The man is a bundle of hate and rage. He faces the end of an empire that was supposed to last for a thousand years, but will be over in thirteen. The end is a crazy nightmare of suicides and murder-suicides, with Frau and Herr Goebbels following Hitler in death, and taking their mob of blonde children with them, like a hellishly different version of The Sound of Music. We assume that most of the generals and officers scatter. Some will die fighting and others will be imprisoned and put on trial. And yet others will find protection of one kind or another and go on with their lives.

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LEG120 Hitler: The Last Ten Days DVD (1973/Alec Guinness) $14.95