The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot (Fantasia 2018 review)

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: Calvin Barr (Sam Elliot) is an obscure legend. Back in WW2, he infiltrated Nazi Germany and, in a top-secret mission, assassinated Hitler, but now lives a quiet small-town life with only his adoring brother (Larry Miller) to keep him company. But, when Uncle Sam comes calling in the guise of an F.B.I agent who needs him to hunt and kill none other than Bigfoot, Calvin finds himself unable to resist the call of duty.

REVIEW: Nabbing the world premiere of THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT is a major coup for the Fantasia Film Festival. While we might assume it would be a silly, pseudo-grindhouse actioner with a title like that, in reality, writer-director Robert D. Krzykowski’s movie is a far more genteel, elegiac tale, and impressive in its complete lack of silliness. From the first frame, you invest in Barr’s life and legend, thanks to a perfectly calibrated lead performance by the great Sam Elliot.

Still lean and muscular, despite being in his seventies, Elliot looks every inch the icon, and the movie has a great opener with him in a bar circa 1987, hair metal blaring, and being hassled by some punks who want his car. Big mistake – with his still-lethal moves all the proof the U.S government needs to press him back into service so he can kill the Bigfoot, who carries a plague that’s put Canada in danger of being nuked (nuts!), and to which Elliot just so happens to be immune.

Any other actor might have opted for a tongue-in-cheek, campy performance, but that’s not what we get here. Instead, Elliot plays him as a man deeply conflicted by the choices he made in his life, choosing duty over a quiet life with the woman he loved (Caitlin FitzGerald). While Elliot is replaced in the flashback scenes by “Poldark’s” Aidan Turner (doing a good Elliot impersonation), this remains very much his film. In particular, he has a lengthy monologue midway through where he tries to explain to a hero-worshipping FBI agent (Ron Livingston) just how futile his Hitler assassination way, that ranks with his best-ever work. A movie like this is probably too low-key to ever get any awards attention, but Elliot sure as hell acts like his in contention for an Oscar.

If THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT has any failings, it’s that the Bigfoot stuff seems tacked-on. I suppose a degree of action was needed to give this a hook so it could be sold to genre audiences, but watching Elliot chase around a less-than-believably realized Bigfoot (blame the budget – not the talent involved) is far less compelling than seeing him in his small town life. I wish a smaller-scaled adventure had been worked-in, especially with it distracting from what, to me anyway, is the heart of the movie – his relationship with his little brother, played by an amazing Larry Miller, a family man whose life is what Barr really wanted.

That all makes for a bit of an uneven film, but much of THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT still works really well. This is a low-budget charmer that deserves a chance to be seen and is one fans should keep their eyes peeled for. It might get a little lost in the shuffle, with Elliot getting Oscar buzz for his turn in A STAR IS BORN (in fact – he showed up at Fantasia wearing a Lady Gaga t-shirt), but his performance here deserves a moment in the sun.

The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot (Fantasia 2018 review)




About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.