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The Boys from Brazil (film)

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Title: The Boys from Brazil (film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Franklin J. Schaffner, Gregory Peck, Heywood Gould, 51st Academy Awards, ITC Entertainment
Collection: 1970S Science Fiction Films, 1970S Thriller Films, 1978 Films, 20Th Century Fox Films, Adolf Hitler in Fiction, American Films, American Science Fiction Films, American Thriller Films, British Films, British Science Fiction Films, British Thriller Films, Cloning in Fiction, English-Language Films, Film Scores by Jerry Goldsmith, Films Based on Science Fiction Novels, Films Based on Works by Ira Levin, Films Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, Films Set in 1978, Films Set in 1979, Films Set in Austria, Films Set in Brazil, Films Set in Pennsylvania, Films Shot in England, Films Shot in Lisbon, Films Shot in Pennsylvania, Films Shot in Vienna, Itc Entertainment Films, Mad Scientist Films, Political Thriller Films
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Boys from Brazil (film)

The Boys from Brazil
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
Produced by Martin Richards
Stanley O'Toole
Robert Fryer
Screenplay by Heywood Gould
Based on The Boys from Brazil by
Ira Levin
Starring Gregory Peck
Laurence Olivier
James Mason
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Henri Decaë
Edited by Robert Swink
ITC Entertainment
Producer Circle
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • October 5, 1978 (1978-10-05)
Running time
125 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $12 million[2]
Box office $19,000,000[3]
$7,600,000 (rentals)

The Boys from Brazil is a 1978 British-American thriller film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. It stars Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier and features James Mason, Lilli Palmer, Uta Hagen, Denholm Elliott, and Steve Guttenberg in supporting roles. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Ira Levin and was nominated for three Academy Awards.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Filming locations 3.1
  • Release 4
  • Award and nominations 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Young, well-intentioned Barry Kohler (Third Reich war criminals holding clandestine meetings in Paraguay and finds that Dr. Josef Mengele (Gregory Peck), the infamous Auschwitz doctor, is with them. He phones Ezra Lieberman (Laurence Olivier), an aging Nazi hunter living in Vienna, Austria, with this information. A highly skeptical Lieberman tries to brush Kohler's claims aside, telling him that it is already well known that Mengele is living in Paraguay.

Having learned when and where the next meeting to include Mengele is scheduled to occur, Kohler records part of it using a hidden microphone, but is discovered and killed while making another phone call to Lieberman. Before the phone is hung up with Lieberman on the other end, he hears the recorded voice of Mengele ordering a group of ex-Nazis to kill 94 men in different countries, including Austria, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Great Britain and the United States.

Although frail, Lieberman follows Kohler's leads and begins travelling throughout Europe and North America to investigate the suspicious deaths of a number of aging civil servants. He meets several of their widows and is amazed to find an uncanny resemblance in their adopted, black-haired, blue-eyed sons. It is also made clear that, at the time of their deaths, all the civil servants were aged around 65 and had cold, domineering and abusive attitudes towards their adopted sons, while their wives were around 42 and doted on the sons.

Lieberman gains insight from Frieda Maloney (Uta Hagen), an incarcerated former Nazi guard who worked with the adoption agency, before realizing during a meeting with Professor Bruckner (Bruno Ganz), an expert on cloning, the terrible truth behind the Nazi plan: Mengele, in the 1960s, had secluded several surrogate mothers in a Brazilian clinic and fertilised them with ova each carrying a sample of Hitler's DNA preserved since World War II. Ninety four perfect clones of Hitler had then been born and sent to different parts of the world for adoption.

As Lieberman uncovers more of the plot, Mengele's superiors become more unnerved. After Mengele happens to meet (and then attacks) one of the agents he believes is in Europe implementing his scheme, Mengele's principal contact, Eduard Seibert (James Mason), informs him that the scheme has been aborted before Lieberman can expose it to the authorities. Mengele storms out, pledging that the operation will continue.

Seibert and his men destroy Mengele's jungle estate after killing his guards and servants. Mengele himself, however, has already left, intent on trying to continue his plan. He travels to rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where one of the Hitler clones, Bobby Wheelock (Jeremy Black), lives on a farm with his parents. There he murders the boy's father (John Dehner), a Doberman dog breeder, and waits for Lieberman, who is on his way to the farm to warn Mr. Wheelock of Mengele's intention to kill him.

The instant Lieberman arrives and sees Mengele, he attacks the doctor in a fury. Mengele gains the upper hand and shoots Lieberman. He taunts Lieberman by explaining his plan to return Hitler to the world. Then, with one desperate lunge, Lieberman opens the closet where the Dobermans are held and turns them loose. The dogs corner Mengele and attack him. Bobby arrives home from school and, despite telling from the carnage that something is wrong, calls off the dogs and tries to find out what has happened.

The injured Mengele, having now encountered one of his clones for the first time, tells Bobby how much he admires him, and explains that he is cloned from Hitler. Bobby doubts his story, and is also suspicious of Mengele because the dogs are trained to attack anyone who threatens his family. Lieberman tells Bobby that Mengele has killed his father and urges him to notify the police. Bobby checks the house and finds his dead father in the basement. He rushes back upstairs and sets the vicious dogs on Mengele once again, coldly relishing his bloody death. Bobby then helps Lieberman, but only after Lieberman promises not to tell the police about the incident.

Later, while recovering from his wounds, Lieberman is encouraged by an American Nazi-hunter, David Bennett (John Rubinstein) to expose Mengele's scheme to the world. He asks Lieberman to turn over the list (which Lieberman had taken from Mengele's body while Bobby was calling for an ambulance) identifying the names and whereabouts of the other boys from around the world, so that they can be systematically killed before growing up to become bloody tyrants. Lieberman objects on the grounds that they are mere children, and he burns the list before anyone can read it.



According to producer Martin Richards, Robert Mulligan was originally offered to direct the film.[4]

Peck agreed to portray Mengele only because he had wanted to work with Olivier.[5]

Mason initially expressed interest in playing either Mengele or Lieberman.[6]

The altercation between Lieberman and Mengele took about three or four days to film due to Olivier's ailing health at the time. Peck recalled that he and Olivier "were lying around on the floor" laughing at the absurdity of having to film such a fight scene at their advanced ages.[7]

To prepare for the roles of the European clones, Jeremy Black was sent to a speech studio in New York by 20th Century Fox to learn how to speak with both an English and a German accent.[8]

Filming locations

Despite its title, none of the film was shot in Brazil. Instead, the film was shot in Portugal, London, Vienna and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The scenes that were set in Massachusetts were shot in London.[8]


The film had 25 minutes cut when released in West Germany, theatrical as well as all subsequent TV, video and some DVD releases. In 1999, by Artisan Entertainment, and 2009 by Lionsgate Home Entertainment, the film was released uncut on DVD in the U.S. and uncut in Germany on its DVDs.

An end segment with Bobby in a darkroom was added to some versions in later years.

Lew Grade who partly financed the movie was not happy with the end result, feeling that the ending was too gory. He says he protested but Franklin Shaffner, who had final cut rights, overruled him.[9]

In 2015, the Shout! Factory released the film on Blu Ray.[10]

Award and nominations

Academy Awards Nominations
Golden Globe Awards Nomination
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Award Nominations
  • Best Science Fiction Film
  • Best Actor - Laurence Olivier
  • Best Director - Franklin J. Schaffner
  • Best Music - Jerry Goldsmith
  • Best Supporting Actress - Uta Hagen
  • Best Writing - Heywood Gould


  1. ^
  2. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p258
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Gary Fishgall, Gregory Peck: A Biography, Simon and Schuster, 2002 p300
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Lew Grade, Still Dancing: My Story, William Collins & Sons 1987 p 248
  10. ^ “THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL” (Blu-ray Review)

External links

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