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"A rollicking comedy with black edges" --The Guardian (U.K.)
Based on the true story of the Hitler diary hoax
Based on a true story, this uproarious farce dramatizes the making of a modern-day publishing fiasco. Emmy® nominee Jonathan Pryce (Brazil, Pirates of the Caribbean) stars as Gerd "The Bloodhound" Heidemann, a German reporter who sniffs out a scoop that will revive his stalled career: the lost diaries of Adolf Hitler. Gerd manages to convince Stern magazine to pony up millions for the documents, not knowing that a small-time forger (Alexei Sayle, The Young Ones) keeps churning them out from a shop in Stuttgart. The scheme hoodwinks eminent historians, Newsweek magazine, and even Rupert Murdoch--until the truth leaves everyone pointing fingers in fury.
With a pitch-perfect ensemble cast that includes Barry Humphries (Dame Edna), Alison Doody (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), Tom Baker (Doctor Who), and Alan Bennett (Beyond the Fringe), Selling Hitler mercilessly lays bare the greed, self-delusion, and stupidity behind 20th-century journalism’s most shocking scandal.
Top Customer Reviews
It also has willfully goofy moments that leaven a ghastly subject with highly-appropriate satirical humor.
"Selling Hitler" is a very stylish 4-hour British miniseries of just such a story. As insane as it seems now, the story is true. It happened in 1985, and if you're too young to remember, I will not give away the ending. The fun is in the telling, with corporate greed battling the ethics of good journalism, with common sense flying out the window.
Jonathan Pryce is wonderful as unstable journalist Gerd Heidemann, obsessed with both the good life and Nazi memorobilia. Heidemann acquires Hermann Goering's old yacht, but his Stern Magazine editors demand a productive story. That story leaps when he meets shady Conrad Fischer - a smart man with access to Hitler diaries. Heidemann has the bait, his editors take the hook. Then it gets rather complicated.
No action scenes, but the film digs up plenty of tension. The action is in the passion. Everyone in this story wants the Diaries on their terms at their price. Boardroom negotiations turn into smiley warfare, promotions and threats. The atmosphere is so crazed that even discredited English historian David Irving makes a memorable appearance.
At 3 1/2 hours, the delight in detail can swamp you - Rupert Murdoch vs. Newsweek, Newsweek vs. Stern Magazine, editors against each other, journalists against sources, forgers against sources, David Irving against everybody - "Selling Hitler" is a cutting character study of paranoia, hucksters and good old scheming. Perhaps it's better to watch this over 2 days. Or not - I watch it straight through every time, exhausted but grinning. The pace is excellent.Read more ›
There are two versions available, the latest, unedited 5 episode Acorn release and an earlier version, edited into 4 episodes and running at around 50 minutes less. Normally, going with an original, uncut vesion would be a no-brainer but in this case it's a tough call. The edited version is tighter and in many ways better. It's biggest advantage is to have lost the awful "On last week's show..." narration by Alexei Sayle that opens each episode. This may have been part of the original TV series but it's a tonal disaster that dumbs the whole thing down. For the rest, it's nice to see all the minutiae, the little moments that were edited out of the first version but they don't really add to the story. If I were recommending one vesion, it would be the 4 episode, with the uncut version in reserve for a second viewing. My 5 stars were for the 4 episode cut. I'd give the longer one 4 stars. PQ is similar in both.
The most imaginative writers of comic fiction could hardly invent characters like Konrad Kujau ("call me Connie", alias Fischer), a professional dealer in his own prolific forgeries of Nazi memorabilia; the senior German magazine journalist Gerd Heidemann, obsessed with Nazi memorabilia, who "collected" Hermann Göring's yacht Carin II and his daughter Edda; the German, British and American media moguls fooled into paying millions of dollars for some 60 forged "diaries" obtained by Heidemann from Kujau; the ex-wartime intelligence boffin and interrogator turned eminent historian, Hugh Trevor-Roper (Lord Dacre), who initially was fooled by and authenticated the forgeries; or the Texan multi-millionaire collector of Nazi art, Billy F. Price. But these are merely some of the very real cast of colorful characters of 'Selling Hitler', who are played by mostly British actors, headed by Jonathan Pryce as Heidemann and comedian Alexei Sayle as Kujau. The strangest casting, on paper, seems Australian comic performer Barry Humphries as media mogul Rupert Murdoch, but even this works, because Humphries, like the others, is a skilled actor. Other notable performers in 'Selling Hitler' include Tom Baker and Peter Capaldi, both well-known to viewers of British television drama in the lead role of the long-running sci-fi fantasy series 'Dr Who'; and the glamorous Irish actress Alison Doody, who played Dr. Elsa Schneider in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' and Jenny Flex in the Bond movie, 'A View to a Kill'.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great TV production, if a little too long when all put together. First-class casting and tight scripting, follows Harris' book faithfully.Published 20 months ago by Mr. Stephen J. Brook
This story was so weird and unreal that I couldn't believe it, so after watching part of it I stopped and looked it up on the Internet. (The library even filed it under 'Fiction. Read morePublished on August 26, 2013 by Loyd Eskildson
Dramatized renditions of true past events are often very intriguing, and this was no exception. Jonathan Pryce was excellent as a hero-worshiping dupe who fell for a... Read morePublished on January 17, 2012 by Robert D. Woods
Konrad "Connie" Fischer (Alexei Sayle), a.k.a. Konrad Kujau, was a con man who knew his mark. A "con man" or "confidence man" is a sophisticated cheat who uses fraud to deceive a... Read morePublished on August 6, 2011 by classicalsteve