FILM REVIEW – THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT. With Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Caitlin FitzGerald, Larry Miller, Ron Livingston. Written by and directed by Robert D. Krzykowski. Not rated. 97 minutes.
It’s safe to say that although this is only February, THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT is one of the year’s oddest releases. Its lurid title belies a solid cast and production values, and what turns out to be a moving portrait of the regrets of old age. Of course, it also has Hitler and Bigfoot.
The distributors must have leapt for joy when the film’s star, Sam Elliott, snagged an Oscar nomination as Bradley Cooper’s older brother in “A Star is Born.” We first meet Elliott as Calvin Barr, nursing his drink at a bar. In short order we see him mugged by a trio of thugs thinking the old man is easy prey, and then him taking out all three predators. Clearly there’s more to him than meets the eye.
In flashblacks we see Calvin (played by Aidan Turner) in a complex plot to assassinate Hitler, as well as falling in love with Maxine (Caitlin FitzGerald), a local schoolteacher. Meanwhile in the present – which is presumably the ‘80s or ‘90s given the character’s age – Calvin is recruited by the U.S and Canada to take out Bigfoot, believed to be the carrier of a deadly plague. Calvin confides his reluctance to his younger brother (Larry Miller), but eventually is in the Canadian woods tracking the monster.
There are two stories here and they don’t always serve each other well. The first story focuses on the pulpy exploits indicated by the title. Although the film’s themes of loss and regret play out here, it will get in the way for some viewers who can’t get beyond the over the top trappings. The second story is about Calvin’s life, which starts out with promise that is never quite fulfilled. What seems to concern writer/director Robert D. Krzykowski – making his feature debut – is how Calvin deals with the life he hopes for versus the life he ends up having.
In spite of the title, this is no trashy exploitation film. Krzykowski has assembled a talented crew in front of and behind the camera. Elliott brings a stoic dignity to his role, and is moving in his scenes with Miller as his brother. Miller is good as well, although another recognizable actor, Ron Livingston, is underutilized as the government agent sent out to recruit Calvin. Adding to the film’s emotional weight are Turner as the younger Calvin and FitzGerald as the woman he woos. Their scenes add depth to Elliot’s portrayal of a life of loss.
There’s no question that “The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot” is a real curio. It will disappoint those looking for cheap thrills and cause some bafflement for those there for the drama, especially when Bigfoot arrives. If you’re able to buy into the admittedly odd premise, this is a movie that defies expectations.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His latest novel, Father of the Bride of Frankenstein, has just been released. He is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award given by the New England Science Fiction Association. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.