Hitler in Hollywood -- Film Review

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KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic -- The premise of Frederic Sojcher's mockumentary "Hitler in Hollywood" -- that the U.S. government conspired with Hollywood to destroy the European film industry when it tried to displace Tinseltown during World War II -- is more amusing than the film turns out to be.

Maria de Medeiros ("Pulp Fiction") plays a director ostensibly making a documentary about the life of French actress Micheline Presle, who stumbles upon a secret plot to prevent a major studio from being created in Europe.

Movie buffs will be intrigued and entertained in a mild way by the film's conceits and participation of not only Presle but also a great many other big names from French filmmaking. But "Hitler" lacks zest and could have been a great deal more outrageous. Attention likely will be limited to film festivals.

Such actors as Francois Morel, Michael Lonsdale, Nathalie Baye and Arielle Dombasle as well as Babelsberg filmmaker Volker Schlondorff show up for interviews or to natter during cocktail parties.

De Medeiros is goofy and charming as she follows clues that take her throughout Europe in search of people involved in a lost Presle film and a Hitler-backed project labeled Hollywood Hits.

With her cameraman (Wim Willaert) in tow, she scoots from Paris to Berlin to London and back, blithely walking into institutions labeled MI5 or Stasi Archives to dig out lost documents and film footage.

There's a sinister pursuer who might be from the CIA, and some witnesses who know of the conspiracy start to disappear or die, though of course they're all getting on.

Scenes at the Festival de Cannes, complete with former director Gilles Jacob, and a secret soundstage on the island of Malta that is down for some overdue bombing add energy. There also is a neat running gag lampooning filmmakers' affectations in which De Madeiros and Presle are the only people in the frame shown in full color.

What might have been a delightful shot across the bow of domineering Hollywood studios, however, falls a bit short.

Venue: Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Production: Saga Film
Cast: Maria de Madeiros, Micheline Presle, Wim Willaert
Director: Frederic Sojcher
Screenwriters: Renaud Andris, Lionel Samain
Producers: Hubert Toint, Jean-Jacques Neira, Christophe Mazodler, Marrio Mazzarotto
Director of photography: Carlo Varini
Production designers: Frederic Delrue, Francouse Joset
Music: Vladimir Cosma
Editor: Ewin Ryckaert
No rating, 85 minutes
Sales: Saga Film
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