An account of the last days of the Nazi leadership as they were hunkering in a Berlin bunker, waiting for the end – and for Adolf Hitler to understand that the war was lost. Based on the findings of journalist James P. O’Donnell, the first American to enter the bunker after the war, the film dramatizes events in a reasonably believable way, from the different perspectives of those who were there. A lion’s share of the story focuses on the relationship between Hitler and Speer and how the latter defied the Fuhrer’s desperate final plans to punish his people for not winning. A taut, claustrophobic drama, with Anthony Hopkins compelling as a frail, distracted Hitler.
1981-U.S. Made for TV. 154 min. Color. Produced and directed by George Schaefer. Teleplay: John Gay. Book: James P. O’Donnell. Cast: Anthony Hopkins (Adolf Hitler), Richard Jordan (Albert Speer), Cliff Gorman (Joseph Goebbels), James Naughton, Michael Lonsdale, Piper Laurie… Susan Blakely, Julian Fellowes. Narrated by James P O’Donnell.
Trivia: Michael Sheard and Tony Steedman played Himmler and Jodl also in the British TV movie The Death of Adolf Hitler (1973).
Emmy: Outstanding Actor (Hopkins).
Last word: “One of the producers said to me after viewing the dailies: ‘You’re kind of making him a nice guy. Could you make him less human?’ I said ‘What do you mean? He was human, that’s what’s so horrific about him!’ They walk among us. We all have that in us. There was a man, his name was Schuschnigg. He was Chancellor of Austria. Just before the Germans marched into Austria to take it over, Schuschnigg was summoned to Berchtesgaden to meet with Hitler. He said Hitler was quite charming, and he even let him smoke, and Hitler despised cigarette smoke. So they all had lunch: he, Hitler, Eva Braun, Goehring, Goebbels, everything was fine, but he knew something was up. So lunch was over and Hitler showed Schuschnigg into his office, locked the door and proceeded to scream at him for 90 minutes, just absolutely salivating. Schuschnigg said ‘I knew then and there that I was in the presence of the devil.'” (Hopkins, The Hollywood Interview)