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Not rated
Copyright 1963 Crown International Pictures
Reviewed by Greg Smalley on 2 July 2008

The Characters:  

  • Mr. Van Pelt - A bigwig at the Central Intelligence Department (C.I.D.). Secretly a mole for Mr. H, intent on stealing the antidote to G-gas. Tries to sabotage the investigation of the documents' disappearance by assigning incompetent agents to the case; ironically, they kill him.
  • Vic Gilbert - The C.I.D.'s top agent assigned to the El Camino beat. Seems to be the protagonist, until he dies 30 minutes into the movie in stock footage.
  • Toni Gordon - Gal secret agent. Likes to wear revealing miniskirts and complain about how she doesn't get any respect as an intelligence operative. Shot by a Blues Brother.
  • The Blues Brothers - Mr. H's American hit men, working for Van Pelt. They pioneered the black suits and sunglasses look years before Belushi & Ackroyd thought of it. They like to blow things up, kidnap random characters, and shoot C.I.D. agents. Disappear 1/3 of the way through the movie.
  • Prof. Coleman - He's the only one who knows the antidote to G-gas. Kidnapped by Mr. H's thugs and taken to Mandoras for torture by Theremin. His character has all the flavor of a tofu sandwich on white, hold the mayo.
  • Phil Day - Coleman's son-in-law; a square-jawed, wisecracking C.I.D. agent. He kills Hitler's brain.
  • Kathy "K.C." Day - Phil's wife, Coleman's daughter. Tags along on the perilous top-secret mission to save the world, and makes sure to get in some shopping along the way. Only in the movie to give Phil someone to be condescending to.
  • Teo - One of Hitler's personal physicians. Not especially Aryan looking. Shot in a drive-by and stuffed into a phone booth.
  • Camino - Teo's twin brother, though nobody in the movie comments on the resemblance. Apparently unemployed; he hangs around Mandoras all day playing cloak and dagger.
  • Suzanne - Coleman's other daughter. Abducted by the Nazis and taken to Mandoras. Best thing that ever happened to her: she treats the kidnapping as an indefinite spring break. Enjoys drinking, dancing, and making out with her brother-in-law.
  • Mr. H - Cutsey nickname for the head of Adolph Hitler. Since being decapitated, he doesn't speak much, although he can bark out the occasional German sounding syllable or two if pressed. Acts mostly with his bushy eyebrows. Melted by a grenade.
  • Dave - Suzanne's ex-boyfriend. His Nazism and attempts to kill her family eventually drive a wedge between them. Shot in an alley by the Mandoran chief of police.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

There are a few films where the story of the making of the movie is more entertaining than the movie itself. "They Saved Hitler's Brain" is the textbook example. In 1963, director David Bradley made a modest, yet confusing, little film called "Madmen of Mandoras" about the preserved head of Hitler leading a group of South American Nazi refugees in an attempt to take over the world. Several years later, in the early 1970s, American TV stations were desperate to buy any type of movie to fill in the two hour gaps in their schedules. Fitting the definition of "any type of movie," "Madmen of Mandoras" would have been a candidate, except that it was only 60 minutes long. With typical American ingenuity, "Madmen"'s distributors hired a bunch of UCLA film students to create 30 minutes of additional footage that they intercut with the original film to make it suitable for TV viewing. "Madmen", with its large cast of poorly introduced characters, had been confusing enough. The new material, which adds new characters, twists, and incongruous hairstyles, makes things much, much worse. If plot holes were nickels, you could buy a gallon of gas with "They Saved Hitler's Brain."

The film begins with a Mr. Van Pelt, a mole inside a top secret agency called the C.I.D., ordering his henchmen to blow up Dr. Bernard's car while the plans for an antidote to the deadly "G-gas" are on him. The killers dress inconspicuously in black suits, hats, and sunglasses in a look that would be ripped off by the Blues Brothers years later. Soon Van Pelt learns that another scientist knows the antidote, a Professor Coleman. Van Pelt assigns agents Vic Gilbert and Toni Gordon to investigate Dr. Bernard's death, and makes plans of his own for Coleman.

Agent Toni shows up at Vic's house in striped tie and a scandalously short miniskirt. For the next ten minutes they read some dossiers about the South American country of Mandoras and the escaped Nazis that live there, debate the proper role of women in the C.I.D., drink tea, investigate the El Camino Technological Institute, and finally proclaim, "Well, that was a wasted afternoon."

Next we cut to a lecture by Professor Coleman where he briefs a bunch of military-industrial types about the dire effects of G-gas. In the corridor outside the briefing room, a mustachioed Hispanic man pleads with a guard to speak to the Professor, but slinks away when a random civilian walks by. After the briefing, Coleman gets a muffled phone call saying someone or other was kidnapped. In the middle of the night, he goes to an apartment and finds some guy named Dave knocked out on the floor. In a scene that begins a long sequence of day-for-night shots, Coleman and Dave leave the apartment looking for a phone to call the police and are immediately kidnapped by the Blues Brothers. Fortunately, Agent Toni happens to be driving aimlessly by this random apartment in her VW bug just as the abduction takes place. She follows the crooks back to the suburban home they're renting as a secret hideout, but they catch her eavesdropping and chase her to a phone booth, where she manages to call Agent Vic and gives him the address of the hideout just before the Blues Brothers pull up and pump three slugs in her.

Vic goes to the address Toni gave him, where Van Pelt surprises him with a drawn gun. As the traitor is about to kill Vic, Toni shows up and puts a bullet in his back. Just after she expires, the Blues Brothers pull up outside the house. (Where were they lollygagging while Toni was painfully dragging her bullet-riddled body back from the phone booth?) Vic runs away, but is shot in the arm as he flees into his car. The Blues Brothers pursue him in a chase that switches back and forth between day and night several times, until Vic finally falls asleep and crashes into a power generating station. Thus ends the subplot added by the UCLA film students.

Meanwhile, back in "Madmen of Mandoras", Professor Coleman's daughter KC and her C.I.D. agent husband Phil are abducted by the mustachioed Hispanic man, who tells them that Coleman has been kidnapped and taken to Mandoras. Before he can tell them more, the Blues Brothers pull up and shoot him. Phil pulls the car over, and when the couple figures out their Latin passenger is dead, they leave his corpse in a nearby phone booth and hop the next flight to Mandoras.

When they arrive in Mandoras, they are met by the chief of police, who escorts them to the country's only hotel, where reservations have already been made for them by parties unknown. Due to his expert C.I.D. training, Phil becomes suspicious, so he tackles the very next guy who sneaks into their hotel room without knocking. After a scuffle, it turns out that the intruder is Camino, the brother of the mustachioed man whose lifeless body they left in the phone booth back in the US. He just stopped by to give them a neighborly hello and tell them the tale of how his brother used to be one of Hitler's personal physicians and assisted him in making clones to avoid assassination. Oh, and also that Mr. H (as Camino calls him) ordered his own head cut off, for some reason, and is "not dead."

After Camino helpfully points out the assassin named Vasquez (who's hanging out outside their window), KC and Phil go out shopping and then sample the local nightlife. Who should they find in Mandoras' only nightclub but KC's sister Suzanne, a crazy chick who it turns out was the person kidnapped from that apartment to lure Professor Coleman to Mandoras. In her nutty beatnik lingo, Suzanne explains that after the Nazis kidnapped her they gave her a hefty bankroll and told her to go out drinking and dancing every night, just as long as she didn't call home. As an oblivious Phil leers at a lady dressed like a Chiquita banana spokeswoman (who shakes her mangos in his face while doing the cha cha), Vasquez walks in and prepares to shoot Phil. When the assassin fires, the saucy senorita jumps in front of the bullet, and the club erupts in chaos.

When things calm down, KC and Suzanne have disappeared, and the Mandoran Chief of Police arrests Phil for the murder of Vasquez. Instead of taking Phil to jail, he takes him to the Presidential palace to meet up with the girls and the Presidente of Mandoras and an American businessman named Mr. Sharon. El Presidente and Sharon explain that they are working with the Nazis, and that they have cells all over the world that are apparently ready to release G-gas (or something) in a couple of hours, which will help them take over the world, somehow. Then the gang is taken to see Professor Coleman, who the Nazis are torturing by blaring Theremin music at him. Then some Nazis, including Suzanne's old boyfriend Dave, walk in and take the captives to see Hitler's head, preserved in a jar and currently perched on top of some sort of radio console, looking like he's just woken up from a nap.

The prisoners decide to escape, but are caught by the police chief and El Presidente as they try to break out. But it turns out these two hate the Nazis as well, so everybody escapes together, taking two cars. Meanwhile, the Nazis initiate "Plan G" and with great ceremony they add handles to Hitler's jar so they can take his head along in the car. Dave, Phil, and KC drive to an alley where Dave gives some more nonsensical details about the Nazis plans before the chief of police shows up and shoots him. Later, Hitler, his chauffeur, and Mr. H show up and find Dave's corpse, which makes Sharon mad because Dave was his son, so the chauffeur shoots him, an act which Hitler's head finds wickedly delightful.

The chief of police explains that a couple of German generals are flying in tonight. The whole gang rendezvous at the landing strip, along with Hitler and his army, which consists of a half dozen Nazi soldiers. The chief of police has stored a bucket of grenades in a nearby cave in case of just such an emergency, and after Suzanne makes out with Camino, he and a pal throw some grenades at the two generals (after they land) and at the remaining Nazi soldiers, killing them all. Meanwhile, Phil realizes that everyone else forgot to kill Hitler, so he takes it upon himself to lob an explosive in the direction of the bodyless dictator's limo. Seeing incoming, the chauffer hops back in the car and tells Hitler there's been a change of plans, but he's too late. The limo explodes and Hitler's head goes up in flames and melts as if it were made of wax. Then the gang meets back at the Hotel Mandoras, and reminisces about saving the world, while Camino and Suzanne get married.

Of course, this ending leaves a couple of loose ends floating about. Like, what happened to project G? Did the worldwide sleeper cells release their canisters of G-gas on schedule, destroying the entire world except for Mandoras? Why did the Nazis even bother to capture Professor Coleman, since they never got the formula from him and went ahead with Plan G anyway? Wouldn't they have been better off if they just ignored him, since all the scheme did was lure a C.I.D. agent to their country to foil their plans? Why did Agent Gordon wear such a revealing skirt if she wanted to be taken seriously as an intelligence operative? And exactly why did Hitler order his head cut off back in Berlin? Unfortunately, because the brains of the screenplay writers were never saved, the viewing public may never learn the answers to these questions.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Simple lab tests can reveal if top-secret documents were on a body when it was blown up.
  • When someone shoots a passenger in your vehicle, just drop off the corpse in a nearby phone booth - they'll find him soon enough. That's the way the pros do it.
  • Hitler spoke very harshly to his clones, maybe because he was jealous that they were all so much taller than him.
  • A good way to live forever is to cut off your head and stuff it in a jar, as long as no one ever thinks to throw a grenade at you.
  • Never glum a pony in the tonsils.
  • A South American dancing girl will gladly throw herself in front of a bullet to save a rich American tourist.
  • The national hat of Mandoras is the sombrero.
  • Against soldiers, grenades are old fashioned, but effective.
  • When Hitler got nervous, his eyes rolled around in their sockets uncontrollably like he was having an epileptic fit.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 2 mins - Is that Ron Jeremy's first onscreen appearance in a mainstream movie?
  • 8 mins - Dude, you're SO not getting any tonight...
  • 11 mins - Well, that was a wasted scene.
  • 18 mins - This movie's really starting to kick in; I've lost all sense of time. Is it the middle of the night, or late afternoon?
  • 22 mins - Maybe they'd respect you more as a secret agent if you actually made some sort of move to defend yourself.
  • 24 mins - Bet they wish they had checked to make sure Agent Gordon was dead, instead of stopping off for a bucket of fried chicken before returning home.
  • 26 mins - So, if I have the sequence right, they chase Vic from late morning until the middle of the night, then he crashes the car, then they drive up to the crash site the next morning?
  • 31 mins - It's creepy the way the movie constantly associates phone booths with death, no matter who's directing at the moment.
  • 45 mins - Why is it important to put electrodes on someone's nipples if you're just going to slice their head off anyway?
  • 50 mins - He put the mute on that trumpet on way too tight, you can't hear a single note he's playing.
  • 63 mins - Hitler has no body, his soldiers have no heads… there's symbolism in there somewhere.
  • 65 mins - Funny, if you look at that flag in a mirror, it looks just like the symbol of the Nazi party.
  • 70 mins - I bet the Chief of Police just blew Prof. Coleman's mind with that response.
  • 73 mins - Couldn't they just pick something more dignified, like a pet carrier?
  • 91 mins - I give Camino 36 hours until he files for an annulment.


  • Vic: "Well, that was a wasted afternoon."
  • (Loud gunshot)
    KC: "Oh, Phil, pull over to the side; something's wrong!"
    Phil: "What's wrong?"
    KC: "I don't know!"
  • Phil: "Now, listen to me, Suzanne; this is very important. What do those guys look like who kidnapped you?"
    Suzanne: "Like the craziest!"
    Phil: "No, no, no. What I mean to say is: how did they act? Did they say anything?"
    Suzanne: "They were very nice! They pulled a gun on us, told David to split, those shaved cats that they wouldn't hurt me if I behaved."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note hitlerbrain1.wav Vic: "I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were a woman. I guess they didn't figure this was gonna to be a very dangerous assignment."
Toni: "You better call Van Pelt and tell him to get someone else."
Vic: "What do you mean?"
Toni: "I don't want you to feel obligated into working with a woman."
Vic: "Obligated? I think it'd be fun!"
Green Music Note hitlerbrain2.wav Camino: "The rumor was that Hitler was getting his daily shots of hormones from a battery of doctors, but the truth was worse than that. He had a tremendous fear of death, and created a succession of Mr. Hs. There were attempted assassinations. None of the assassinations failed to kill someone, but not Mr. H."
Green Music Note hitlerbrain3.wav KC: "Hitler, alive? It's...incredible!"
Camino: "I didn't say that, Senora. I said he is not dead."
Green Music Note hitlerbrain4.wav Police Chief: "They've been planning the conquest of the world for eighteen years, and now that...that, thing says that the time has come."
Prof Coleman: "Do they really follow its orders?"
Police Chief: "Does it give orders, Senor Coleman? Does it really give orders?"

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Cliphitlerbrain1.mpg - 5.1m
Wouldn't it have been funny if one of the scientists tripped and dropped Hitler's head?

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