SAM ELLIOT FOLLOWS UP HIS OSCAR NOMINATED ROLE IN “A STAR IS BORN” TO KILL HITLER AND BIGFOOT. IN WHAT IS NOW ONE OF MY FAVORITE FILMS, THE SUPERBLY EXECUTED “THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT”.
Hollywood is filled with leading men of the silver screen who define and ooze manliness. Take in consideration: Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, John Wayne, Yul Brenner, Steve McQueen or Burt Lancaster just to name a few. There is no other actor quite like Sam Elliott, who is the ultimate man’s man. Tall, lean, muscular, and still equipped with that one of a kind whiskey graveled voice. Despite being in his seventies, Elliot is every inch the screen icon.
Elliot who had a huge comeback year in 2018 with his critically praised, award winning and Oscar nominated role in director Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born”. Two months prior to the release of “A Star Is Born” Elliot made “The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot”, which made it’s debut at the Fantasia Film Festival (which he in fact showed up at wearing a Lady Gaga t-shirt).
I know what your thinking that is such a long, descriptive and spoiler-laden title. Although with a title like that we might assume it would be a silly grind house actioner. “The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot” is actually serious work, which is a great surprise. Writer, director and producer Robert D. Krzykowski presents a severity of both feeling and violence without the need to turn the film onto cheap B-movie shenanigans.
The movie has a great opener with Billy Squier’s “Lonely Is The Night” playing over the opening credits and within the jukebox in the local Canadian bar where we find WWII vet Calvin Barr, played in a perfectly calibrated lead performance by the great Sam Elliot. With a timeline that hops back and forth between WWII and many decades later, circa the 80’s.
Calvin lives in a small town near the Canadian border, trying to get through the days with his loyal dog and frequent visits to the local bar. He’s a secretive man with a history he’s trying to forget, but the past won’t leave him behind, recalling his days as a special operative (played in a younger flashback role by “Poldark’s” Aidan Turner) in World War II, where he underwent a mission to infiltrate a Nazi stronghold and assassinate Adolph Hitler. Dealing poorly with such an act of extreme violence, Calvin has difficulty returning to everyday life, threatening his relationship with schoolteacher Maxine (Caitlin FitzGerald), who loves him madly. Endeavoring to block out all the disappointment and pain in his life, Calvin is returned to duty when an F.B.I. agent (Ron Livingston) emerges with a request: to enter a Canadian hot zone and kill Bigfoot (yes that Bigfoot), who’s currently on the run, threatening to spread a deadly plague through Canada.
Calvin’s mental breakdown from his past is heavily showcased and is slowly portioned out, and takes up most of the film. While it runs nearly a full hour (within the hour an half running time) before there’s any mention of the Bigfoot. It sounds like a set-up for a film that would move at a crawl kind of pacing. However “The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot”, has a deliberately fast pace and moves very quickly.
Writer and director Krzykowski seamlessly branches the contemporary Calvin with looks at his younger, more wiry self and the decisions that would cause him so much pain as his older self. Of course one of those pains is the loss of a love that got away, played by Caitlin Fitzgerald in their all too brief scenes together that have a Frank Capra-esque feel.
The hunt for Bigfoot takes up most of the third act, which for me is my only downfall because even though it takes up most of the third portion, it still doesn’t feel long enough. I didn’t want it to end. The hunt moves the film into a more adventurous encounter, watching Calvin speed through the woods, tracking the formidable foe. However keep in mind this is not an action film, and the best aspect of it is that it’s not played for laughs, with Bigfoot’s presence just as real as the wartime threats.
Krzykowski deserves credit for preserving the emotional authenticity with never blinking or giving us moments of camp. It’s not a peppy movie by any means, which diminishes its overall appeal, but “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot” gets relatively far on serious business, wisely trusting in Sam Elliott to do the heavy lifting by playin him as a man deeply conflicted by the choices he made in his life. Elliot conveys a lifetime of experience even when he’s sitting in contemplative silence. As with every role he brings gravitas and pure screen authority. Any other actor would have done a tongue-in-cheek campy performance, but that is not what we get here.
“The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot” is chilling, creepy, disturbing, sad and not what you might expect. Props to writer and director Krzykowski, the production, special effects and set design teams for creating plausible backdrops for a pulpy World War II thriller, a character study and a sci-fi adventure. We get a lead role by Sam Elliot that couldn’t have been done by anyone else. I enjoyed it so much I just wish the film was longer. It has become one of my favorite films, as I loved every minute of it.
(4 & 1/2 out of 5)