We’ve had some classy period dramas on the blog lately–a phenomenon I greatly enjoy, though it seems high time we got back to our bad B-movie roots. Sam Elliott, Hitler, Bigfoot: it’s like this week’s film was made for us. …Or was it?
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot
The man who killed Hitler is recruited for a mission to the wilds of Canada in the 1980s. Spoiler: it involves Bigfoot.
Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott!) is a gentle man who keeps to himself with the exception of the adorable golden retriever always by his side. His only hobbies seem to be drinking alone at the local bar and sitting at home, listening to the hum of voices on the TV. Who would ever guess he’s…the man who killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot?
As a young man, Calvin enlisted in the US army to serve in WWII. Gifted with languages, incredibly skilled in carrying out missions, and quite good at remaining calm in oddly intense shaving scenes, it doesn’t take long before Calvin is recruited for the ultimate top secret mission: killing Hitler. Though he recognizes the necessity of his actions, Calvin abhors violence and murder, making him a rather conflicted man.
When he enlisted, Calvin left behind his schoolteacher girlfriend, Maxine–the love of his life and woman he keeps trying to propose to(!). After the war, Calvin isn’t allowed to communicate with Maxine or his family for…reasons. I wasn’t paying the most attention ever, but it was incredibly unclear to me why Calvin couldn’t return home or write to his loved ones. Either way, it sucks, and Maxine can’t wait around forever when her mother falls ill back home.
In the present day (some time in the ’80s?), Calvin prefers to be alone and stay out of trouble. His only remaining family is his brother Ed, though the two aren’t particularly close, largely because of Calvin’s standoffish nature. Rather disillusioned with the whole idea of heroism, Calvin rejects FBI agents who want to recruit him for a mission to essentially save the world.
The scenario in which the world needs saving happens when Bigfoot is unleashed on Canada, carrying a disease that stands to wipe out humanity. Unless Bigfoot can be tracked down and killed, the U.S. Army will nuke Canada, taking out a chunk of both countries and probably devastating the world. As the only surviving person immune to the disease, Calvin is Earth’s last hope.
Of course, Calvin comes around eventually, but by no means enjoys his role. Though he tracks down Bigfoot fairly easily, his prey is resilient and tricky. Bigfoot manages to do quite a lot of damage to Calvin in a dramatic fight–will the man who killed Bigfoot also be the man killed by Bigfoot?
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
As promised in the title, this is indeed the story of the man who killed Hitler and the Bigfoot. However, I feel the title implies a certain level of campy fun, senseless violence, and/or terrible special effects, but it fails to deliver on any of this.
This is more of a character study, which is fine considering the character is played by Sam Elliott (accompanied by the cutest dog). It feels quite a lot like a Western too, given Calvin’s ambivalence towards heroism, status as a legend and rugged loner, and old-fashioned sense of honor. There’s an element of romantic drama here as well–but like all of the other genres this film falls into, it almost gets there but never quite works as any of these stories. It’s rather disjointed and feels like several unrelated stories.
It doesn’t help that the supporting characters are so pointless. Admittedly, it’s virtually impossible to measure up to Sam Elliott, but these characters are so 2-dimensional it hurts. Maxine is ridiculously boring, the FBI agents are aggravating, and even Calvin’s brother Ed isn’t particularly memorable. Standing ovation for that dog, though.