A ChucksConnection Film Review

Steve Guttenberg wears navy blue Converse “Chuck Taylor” All Stars in the film.

The Boys From Brazil

by Hal Peterson


The Boys From Brazil still 1

Barry Kohler is a young American Nazi hunter.

The Boys from Brazil is an unusual mystery along the lines of the Odessa Files about a post World War II plot to revive world Nazism. The story begins in Peru, where a young American, Barry Kohler (Steve Guttenberg), inspired by the writings of Nazi-hunter Ezra Lieberman (Sir Laurence Olivier), has come to track down Nazis who had fled to South America after the war, and still maintain an active underground organization. Kohler has been tracking the comings and goings of various Nazis, and is surprised to see the arrival of Dr. Josef Mengele (Gregory Peck) for some sort of summit meeting at the luxurious home of one of the Nazi leaders. He successfully places a bug in the room, and is able to tape record the meeting because of a transmitter placed in a cheap portable radio which he gives to a young Peruvian boy who works in the household. The plot he overhears is incredible: over the next two and one half years, 94 adult males with much younger wives and adolescent sons are to be systematically murdered around their 65th birthdays. When the boy accidentally moves the radio dial to the frequency of the transmitter, the surveillance is discovered by the Nazis and a frantic search begins for the source of the leak. Kohler escapes and hurries back to his hotel to transmit his finding to Lieberman, but the Nazis ruthlessly track him down, and he is found and murdered, while in the process of playing the tape of the meeting over the phone.

The Boys From Brazil still 2

Barry overhears some of Dr. Mengele’s plot.

After this opening sequence, the full extent of Mengele’s plot is revealed. Mengele, who had conducted grotesque genetic experiments on Jews and other concentration camp prisoners during the war, had taken genetic material from Adolf Hitler and created human clones of him who were brought to term and then placed in families that had the same character traits as Hitler’s parents: an older domineering father who was a minor official and a much younger doting mother. The father died at age 65, so all of the fathers of the adopted children must also die, so that the children will have the same family history as Adolf Hitler. Although Lieberman at first dismisses the claims of Kohler, he is gradually convinced that there is a conspiracy, especially when Kohler’s cousin arrives in Vienna to report that Kohler is missing and presumed dead. The film then becomes a race between Mengele and his agents to complete their plot before Lieberman can discover the truth of their conspiracy to create new Adolf Hitlers.

The Boys From Brazil still 3

Gregory Peck plays the evil Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi “Angel of Death”.

The Boys from Brazil is well acted, with Gregory Peck giving a disturbing and chilling performance as the fanatical and vindictive Dr. Mengele. This was a very different role for Peck, who normally plays All-American hero types, and it is clear that he relished the chance to play a real villain. Laurence Olivier is also impressive in his Oscar-nominated role as the skeptical elderly Jew, Ezra Lieberman, who most of the world wishes would just go away. Lieberman doesn’t believe what he is being told by Kohler until it is too late, but once convinced that there is some truth to his allegations, doggedly pursues the truth until he discovers the full extent of the conspiracy. The other Nazi characters are suitably ruthless and brutal, giving you a rude reminder of the contempt that they held for most of the world. Jeremy Black presents us with the right combination of arrogance and adolescent behavior in his multiple roles as some of the young cloned boys, giving the audience a supposed glimpse of what the young Adolf Hitler might be like in today’s world. If nothing else, this film produced in the late 1970s, is a prophetic and convincing argument against human cloning.

Best Chucks Scene

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After his surveillance is discovered, Barry hurries back to his hotel room.

This film really falls into the category of “heroes wear chucks”. Barry Kohler wears them during his brief appearance at the beginning of the film, when he discovers part of the Nazi plot, and tries to convey it to Lieberman. Unfortunately, he becomes the first victim of the Nazis in their attempts to carry out Mengele’s plan. As a result there isn’t a lot of chucks “footage” to be seen. The best scene is where Kohler is racing back to his hotel to pass on his information, and you see him racing through various corridors and up the stairs in his navy blue chucks.

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Barry goes into his room to pass on his discovery to Ezra Lieberman in Vienna.

The Boys from Brazil. (1978) Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier, James Mason, Lilli Palmer, Uta Hagen, Rosemary Harris, Anne Meara, Denholm Elliott, Steve Guttenberg.
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. Categories: Drama, Action/Adventure, Crime and Mystery.
ChucksConnection Rating: 3 chucks ratingMPAA Rating: R

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