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Selling Hitler


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jonathan Pryce, Alexei Sayle, Alison Doody, Julie T. Wallace, Richard Wilson
  • Directors: Alastair Reid
  • Writers: Howard Schuman, Robert Harris
  • Producers: Andrew Brown, Paul Sparrow
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Acorn
  • Release Date: July 13 2010
  • Run Time: 256 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0039ZF8HI
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #71,333 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Based on a true story, this uproarious farce dramatizes the making of a modern-day publishing fiasco. Emmy® nominee Jonathan Pryce (Evita, Pirates of the Caribbean) stars as Gerd "The Bloodhound" Heidemann, a German reporter who sniffs out a scoop that will revive his stalled career: recovering 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, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) 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 Steadman (Pride and Prejudice), 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.

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Format: VHS Tape
What if Adolf Hitler kept a diary? What would it say? Would it give an excuse - a hint of reason - for why he did what he did? And if there was a diary, how much would the world media pay for an artifact all the world wants to see?
"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.
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By A Customer on March 29 2001
Format: VHS Tape
An interesting black comedy about a man who hears rumours of lost Hitler diaries, and his growing obsession to have these objects. Based on a true story of a German reporter, he eventually gets his magazine to shell out the money to purchase these documents. Of course he is soon to discover their are more, along with paintings and other items. He becomes submerged in a strange subculture of collectors, eventually purchasing Goering's boat and seducing his grown daughter. The diaries turn out to be frauds and he looses it all. An interesting commentary on the continuing interest in Hitler and the Third Reich.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A fantastic cynical tale marred only by a so-so print... July 1 2002
By Winthrop Harrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
What if Adolf Hitler kept a diary? What would it say? Would it give an excuse - a hint of reason - for why he did what he did? And if there was a diary, how much would the world media pay for an artifact all the world wants to see?
"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.
Still, I hope this film will find a DVD release, as that could eliminate my only complaint. The video print for this film is so-so, with slightly muffled sound, and visuals that seem underlit. This is a non-issue in the second half - much of which takes place in static media corporation light - but more so in the shadowy creepy early half. The film clearly wasn't released this way - DVD would be a good excuse to set this right. Still, "Selling Hitler" is perfect ammunition against those who say "Masterpiece Theater" is the best British TV has to offer. Highly recommended.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
top-notch March 31 2007
By Robert Platt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
A tawdry and twisted boardroom farce and journalistic spoof. Top notch performances throughout. Equal in caliber in every way to Robert Harris' book, which is a tremendous beach read with serious message. It's chilling to think that the history of Nazi Germany was almost re-written by a drunken gun-nut forger and his emotionally-unhinged dupe. Although very talky, it never drags. Pacing is carefully managed and a four-hour movie goes by quickly. Owing to the length, there is more than enough technical detail about business negotiations, document forensics, historical research, and tabloid journalism to satisfy any geek, but it's never overdone.

It also has willfully goofy moments that leaven a ghastly subject with highly-appropriate satirical humor.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, quite brilliant. March 4 2012
By johnklem - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This is British TV at its best. Hysterically funny almost from the start, this is a thinking man's comedy. Little visual jokes are everywhere, like the blink and you'll miss it Hitler jigsaw puzzle. The casting's near perfect and the acting uniformly terrific. Alison Doody is note perfect as the protagonist's girlfriend. The scene in which we first meet her is as nicely judged a piece of comedic acting as I've ever seen. I haven't read Robert Harris' book but this adaptation is a masterpiece in its own right. And it's all true!
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An Obsession With the Taboo March 29 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
An interesting black comedy about a man who hears rumours of lost Hitler diaries, and his growing obsession to have these objects. Based on a true story of a German reporter, he eventually gets his magazine to shell out the money to purchase these documents. Of course he is soon to discover their are more, along with paintings and other items. He becomes submerged in a strange subculture of collectors, eventually purchasing Goering's boat and seducing his grown daughter. The diaries turn out to be frauds and he looses it all. An interesting commentary on the continuing interest in Hitler and the Third Reich.
Fascinating Account of a Con Man Who Cashed in on the Public's Morbid Fascination with A. Hitler Aug. 6 2011
By classicalsteve - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
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 mark out of his or her money. In this case, the mark was the international press. Gerd Heidemann (Jonathan Pryce), a journalist for the German magazine Stern, was facing a stalled career. He became the perfect target for a series of hoaxes known as the Hitler Diaries. This film portrays one of the greatest literary cons of the 20th century.

Heidemann needed something to jump-start his writing career to get back on track. In the series, he is portrayed as something of an amateur war scholar who enjoys collecting artifacts once owned by tyrants of infamous regimes. First, he buys Hermann Göring's yacht which looks like it might have come out of the Battle of the Bulge. Göring, the most eccentric and grandiose of Hitler's inner circle, was head of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force during World War II. The journalist invests thousands of German marks to restore the vessel in hopes to invite former Nazis to board and tell stories about their experiences as budding Hitler youths. The boat does draw the former Nazis like a magnet, but the magazine Stern is unimpressed with Heidemann's results. They want something with more meat.

Heidemann then has a chance meeting with a Nazi memorabilia collector and sees an example of a supposed diary written by Hitler. After much persistence, the collector finally reveals his source, Konrad Fischer, a militaria dealer in Stuttgart. However, the collector balks at introducing them, but now the journalist has a name. Another of Heidemann's colleagues meets Fischer at a drinking party full of former Nazi sympathizers. They take old American songs and "arianize" them.

Heidemann finally meets Fischer and wants to see if there are more diaries with the possibility of acquiring them. Fischer shows him a few volumes. Convinced of their authenticity, Heidemann gets financing from his publication. Asked how he acquired them, Fischer tells him a story, which is a vital part of any con game. Fischer claims they are from his brother who is a high-ranking officer in East Germany which was then under the Soviet Iron Curtain. The diaries and other material were supposedly retrieved from a plane which crashed in 1945 containing much Nazi material, including paintings and supposedly an opera by Hitler. The diaries are smuggled out of East Germany to West Germany aboard a truck hauling pianos between the countries. Fischer finally agrees to give Heidemann several diaries for the princely sum of 200,000 marks per volume, about US $250,000 in 2010. Essentially, Fischer sells them to Heidemann who in turn sells them to Stern for a profit. Once the first sale is made, the hoax has been engaged, and Heidemann returns frequently with more money for more diaries. By the end, there will be 58 diaries in all.

Heidemann makes money as the go-between and becomes a major player in the publication. Stern is convinced they will make a fortune in their own publication plus they will sell the rights to international press markets, such as those owned by Rupert Murdoch and Newsweek in the US. Everyone is happy. Except there is only one problem. The diaries are complete fakes, forged by Fischer in a back room with a calligraphic pen and a host of literature regarding the Nazis which could be found at any library. There is no "brother" in East Germany and no evidence that the crashed plane contained the material supposedly found there by peasants.

However, handwriting experts and other scholars are convinced of their authenticity. Will this be the greatest literary find of the century, or the worst literary con played on the press who wanted to feed the public's continued appetite for all things regarding Hitler and the Nazis in Germany? A compelling chronicle of events of the Hitler Diaries, with strange Monty Python-esque interludes with Pryce looking like a character out of a Wagnerian opera. Not to be missed for those who like hoaxes and Hitler.


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