Directed by: Robert D. Krzykowski
Premise: Set in the 1980s, a reclusive World War II veteran (Sam Elliott) is called upon to kill a legendary creature known at The Bigfoot. The mission is complicated by the veteran’s own conflicted feelings about his war time service.
What Works: The title The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot implies a campy or goofy movie. It’s not. The filmmakers play the concept straight and the movie is a surprisingly engaging and even affecting story of a man coming to terms with the disappointments of his life. The movie’s title refers to Calvin, a World War II veteran who lives a quiet, unassuming life. The narrative alternates past and present, recounting how the young Calvin (Aidan Turner) went to war, leaving his would-be fiancé (Caitlin FitzGerald) behind, and carried out a top secret mission to kill Adolf Hitler. The Allied and Axis powers covered up the Führer’s death and the war carried on for years. In the present, the elder Calvin (Sam Elliott) is contacted by government agents who claim that the legendary Bigfoot is real and carries a deadly disease. They want Calvin to track and kill The Bigfoot before the creature inadvertently begins a pandemic. The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is an example of nonlinear storytelling done very well. The film doesn’t just leap backward and forward in time; the filmmakers pick particular moments to transition between past and present and juxtapose scenes to draw connections between the different periods of time. The conceit of the movie is strange but the filmmakers don’t play it that way. Instead, the filmmakers emphasize Calvin’s regret over his lost love and his ambivalent feelings about his military service. That approach lends credibility to the outlandish elements of the story. The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot works as well as it does largely due to Sam Elliott’s performance as the elder Calvin. Like the filmmakers, Elliott grounds the material and focuses on the credible human drama. This man’s showdowns with Hitler and Bigfoot take on tragic dimensions and moments in this film have surprisingly dramatic impact. The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot also benefits from some impressive and occasionally arresting images. Director Robert D. Krzykowski and cinematographer Alex Vendler photograph the landscape in ways the echo the western genre and juxtapose man’s existence against the larger forces of nature and history.
What Doesn’t: There are a few places in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot where it feels as though pieces of the story are missing. That’s especially true of Calvin’s relationship with Maxine. We get the overall sense of what happened between them but this subplot is missing a few critical moments, especially upon Calvin’s return home from the war. The film also rushes into Calvin tracking and attempting to kill The Bigfoot. The story might have benefitted from a longer build up to their confrontation. It’s clearly so important to the story and to Calvin’s bid for redemption that the lead up to the Bigfoot sequence should have been drawn out for dramatic impact.
DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, interviews, deleted scenes, short film, image gallery.
Bottom Line: The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is not the shlock that its title implies. It’s something better. The filmmakers marry a wacky conceit to a credible human drama and come up with a unique film that is impactful and unlike anything coming out of a Hollywood studio.
Episode: #754 (June 23, 2019)