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Hitler – Dead or Alive

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Hitler - Dead or Alive
Directed byNick Grinde
Written byKarl Brown
Screenplay bySam Neuman
Produced byBen Judell
CinematographyPaul Ivano
Edited byJack Dennis
Music byLeo Erdody
Ben Judell Productions
Distributed byCharles House
Release date
  • November 12, 1942 (1942-11-12)
Running time
70 minutes
CountryUnited States

Hitler – Dead or Alive is a 1942 American propaganda war film directed by Nick Grinde. The plot of Hitler – Dead or Alive was inspired by true events but takes a quasi-comic tone.[1][Note 1]


In 1939, during the early days of World War II, Samuel Thornton (Russell Hicks), a prominent American businessman, offers a reward of one million dollars to bring Adolf Hitler to justice, dead or alive. He hires three gangster ex-convicts released from Alcatraz prison, Steve Maschick (Ward Bond), Hans "Dutch" Havermann (Warren Hymer) and Joe "The Book" Conway (Paul Fix).

The three join the Royal Canadian Air Force and hijack an aircraft flown by Johnny Stevens (Bruce Edwards) to enter German airspace. With Johnny joining them, the group pose as musicians to gain access to Hitler (Bobby Watson). With the help of Else von Brandt (Dorothy Tree), the gangsters capture Hitler and quickly cut his hair and shave off his moustache as SS soldiers try to break the door in. When the SS manage to enter the room, they fail to recognize their leader and drag all the men, including Hitler, outside to be shot.

A desperate Hitler makes a break for it and is shot by the SS officer in charge, who states disdainfully and ironically: "To think that Germany could produce a piece of filth like you." Steve makes a long patriotic speech while facing a firing squad.



Principal photography on Hitler – Dead or Alive began on August 6, 1942 at Fine Arts Studios.[3]


Film historian Alun Evans in Brassey's Guide to War Films, reviewed Hitler – Dead or Alive, comparing and contrasting it to other contemporary features, The Devil with Hitler, (1942), That Nazi Nuisance (1943) and The Hitler Gang (1944). He noted the earlier film was "... (a) Satirical farce about three ex-Alcatraz cons plotting to kill Hitler ..."[4]

Historian M.B.B. Biskupski, in his overview of the treatment of Poles in American war-time cinema, reviewed the film as possibly containing a rare war-time reference to a Polish-American character (Steve Maschik). He noted that the film "may be the worst film made in the World War II era."[5]

In other media

In November 2012, while being interviewed by Playboy magazine, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino admitted the inspiration for his film Inglourious Basterds came from Hitler - Dead or Alive.[6]

See also



  1. ^ A news item appearing in the Film Daily noted that Hitler – Dead or Alive was based on an actual offer made by an American businessman, in which he promised a reward of one million dollars to anyone who "would either kill or kidnap Adolf Hitler."[2]


  1. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Review: 'Hitler: Dead or Alive' (1942)." Allmovie. Retrieved: April 8, 2017.
  2. ^ "Notes: 'Hitler – Dead or Alive' (1942)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: April 8, 2017.
  3. ^ "Original print information: 'Hitler – Dead or Alive' (1942)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: April 8, 2017.
  4. ^ Evans 2000, p. 97.
  5. ^ M.B.B. Biskupski, Hollywood's War with Poland 1939-1945, p. 192.
  6. ^ "Celebrity interview with Django Unchained director Quentin Tarantino'." Archived 2013-12-02 at the Wayback Machine Playboy, November 16, 2012. Retrieved: April 8, 2017.


  • Evans, Alun. Brassey's Guide to War Films. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books, 2000. ISBN 1-57488-263-5.
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