August 1, 2002
Der Fuhrer on Der Screen
Adolf Hitler is no stranger to big screen and small. Charlie Chaplin first parodied Adolf Schickelgruber in the 1940 movie "The Great Dictator," and since then Der Führer has become a part of screen history. Mel Brooks poked fun at him in the movie "The Producers" in 1968 which was robustly reincarnated as a musical on Broadway.
On screen in the '40s, Robert Watson made a career sticking on that Hitler mustache -- six times at least. Luther Adler did him in 1951 and Richard Basehart a decade later. Anthony Hopkins strutted in the 1981 film "The Bunker" and Frank Finlay and Alec Guinness have both donned the jackboots over the years.
The Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) lists Adolf Hitler as having appeared in some 200 films -- most of them playing himself in gigs like Woody Allen's "Zelig," usually in flickering, black-and-white archival footage.
While much interest will be focused on who is hired to play him in the CBS miniseries, there are other two other Hitler films in the works. "Max," an independent picture, has John Cusack playing Max Rothman, a Viennese art teacher who befriends an aspiring art student who turns out to be a mass murderer. Hitler in that film is played by English musician Noah Taylor. Robert Downey Jr. is reportedly in line to play Hitler as the struggling artist in another film for the BBC.