Douglas Sirk – Hitler’s Madman (1943)
Hitler’s Madman is based on an all-too-real wartime atrocity. John Carradine portrays Heydrich, the vicious SS officer put in charge of Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Heydrich is killed by the Czech underground, prompting the Nazis to plan a horrible retaliation. The Gestapo selects the Czech village of Lidice for annihilation: They kill all the male villagers, throw the women and children into concentration camps, and torch Lidice into nonexistence. The victims of Nazi tyranny become martyrs to the underground cause, ending the film on a note of triumph. Based on a narrative poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Hitler’s Madman was produced by the “poverty row” PRC studio, but was sold to MGM and given a class-A presentation at choice theatres throughout the U.S.