11
Aug 04

It was actually the head and upper chest they saved

Do You SeePost a comment • 136 views

It was actually the head and upper chest they saved — the ridiculous joy of They Saved Hitler’s Brain isn’t just the title, of course, but damned if that doesn’t have a lot to do with it. It’s a perfect time-killer movie for me — as last night I was prepping up another tomato soup and other goodness, and that took about ninety minutes all told, I slung my beloved Rhino DVD of it (I love that such a thing exists) into the player and proceeded to do things like cook onion and garlic in olive oil and slice up tomatoes to the sounds of lines like “The rumor was that Hitler was getting his daily shots of hormones from a battery of doctors. But the truth was worse than that!”

But the real treat for me has always been this bizarre bit of trivia — some years after the film was first made in the late fifties or early sixties (there seems to be some confusion on this point), a bunch of film students at UCLA went ahead — presumably on commission of some sort — and filmed a slew of new footage to expand the film to a ninety-minute running time. Rhino claims this was done in the early 1960s but they are so on crack — the extra footage is clearly from the seventies, no matter the fact they’ve got a picture of Eisenhower on the wall at one point. The footage is at least black and white to match the original footage that way, but otherwise it’s a completely bizarre and wonderful Frankenstein’s monster at the start of the movie (they give themselves a bit of an out by killing off all the characters in the new footage about twenty minutes in — personally I felt they should have gone all the way and intercut throughout, but maybe this was interfering with their regimen of pot and Dead shows).

And so while most of the film is pretty much standard black and white dawn of the sixties B-movie fare in terms of actors’ appearances, music, fashion, cinematography, jarringly this type of stuff litters the start of the film:

Bad electric piano music, stilted meet-cute dialogue (even the original film dispenses with that, the one couple that results out of the plot machinations seems to do little than be caught up in a plot, kiss at one point, then get married — this all in the space of a day, if that), and oh boy, those fashions and mustaches.

So I have to wonder what other films are like this — I know there must be other ones — and better yet, what films of ten to fifteen years ago would you add footage to if you could, while not disguising the changes in fashion, soundtrack music, editing etc. done since then?

That all said, let us remember why this film was made:

(A typically hyperdetailed and scabrous review of this film exists at the site of wonder known as Jabootu, from whence I linked these photos.)

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