The Death of Adolf Hitler (1973) Sunday Night Theatre ITV

April 16th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

The very simplicity of this television production works in its favour as it graphically portrays the claustrophobic environment in which Hitler spent his final days; although the depiction of him sleeping in his uniform smacks of dramatic license.

Frank Finlay’s portrayal of the Fuhrer – while as usual inadequately portraying the prematurely aged, grey-haired, shambling husk of a man he had descended to by this stage in the war – doesn’t fall into the usual trap of showing him as sympathetically as most other portrayals usually are; although there’s a lapse when Goebbels is described as “one of Hitler’s oldest friends”, since Hitler hadn’t had any close friends since he purged Ernst Rohm.

This production provides a colder-eyed look at Hitler than usual and it’s portrayal of a self-centred bully prone to temper tantrums is far nearer the mark; although David Irving would certainly take exception to Hitler personally telling a secretary that “in 1941, I personally ordered the extermination of all inferior races’.

In supporting roles Caroline Mortimer emerges both as more substantial and culpable Eva Braun than the real thing ever was, depicted yelling “Kill the Jews!”, Ed Devereaux is memorably cast as an oleaginous Martin Bormann while Myvanwy Jenn makes a brief but vivid impression as a shrill Hanna Reitsch. @RichardChatten


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