Series: Streamliner

Director: Gordon Douglas
Producer: Glenn Tryon, Hal Roach
Screenplay: Al Martin
Photography: Robert Pittack
Editor: Bert Jordan
Art director: Charles D. Hall
Sound: William Randall

Stars: Alan Mowbray, Bobby Watson, George E. Stone, Joe Devlin, Marjorie Woodworth, Douglas Fowley, Herman Bing
Company: United Artists
Released: 20 November 1942
Length: 5 reels
Production No.: F-46
Filming dates: March 9 - May 1942
Rating: -/10

The Devil With Hitler

Available on DVD:

No review available.

Copyrighted August 6, 1942.
Premiered on October 18, 1942.
Also listed for October 22, 1942.
The opening title sequence in the credits has the flames of Hell burning over the title card.
Marjorie Woodworth takes 5th billing, yet is the lead actress in the film. This was her sixth appearance in the 'Streamliners' series, and her eighth film credit for Hal Roach.
Hal Roach planned to make four 'streamliners' featuring Hitler, Mussolini, and a fictionalized leader of Japan named Suki-Yaki in slapstick situations, but only two were made: The Devil with Hitler and Nazty Nuisance.
Shooting for The Devil with Hitler began on March 9, 1942 under the working title Hitler's Valet.
This streamliner was director Gordon Douglas's last job with Roach after many years at the studio, having started there as a teenaged production intern.
One wonders if Hal Roach took a special interest in Joe Devlin's Mussolini portrayal; a few years earlier, Roach had formed a production company called "R.A.M." (Roach and Mussolini) with Benito Mussolini's son. The venture was disbanded because MGM, Roach's distributor, felt the association was not in keeping with their wholesome American image, and they ultimately forced Roach to pay his way out of the venture.
One week into shooting, Hal Roach flew to Chicago for the annual United Artists sales meeting, where he tried to drum up interest for his new slate of streamliners. Early into the event, Roach and an associate interrupted the convention beating pans and wearing sandwich boards announcing that whatever was being said about UA's product was "bunk" and the salesman should just wait until they heard about Roach's streamliners, which were to be featured at the conference the following day. When Roach went in front of the convention to introduce his 1942 slate with a humorous presentation, according to Variety, "he found each gag met by stony silence, every man in the room yawning in unison, everyone applauding wildly at times when there was no reason for applauding, and similar antics. Finally, when everyone suddenly got up, took a glass of water and began talking loudly to his neighbors, Roach turned to (his associate) Sears and asked for a recess." It seems that overnight, one of the conference organizers - seeking revenge against Roach's sandwich board escapade - had painted large signs with instructions for the audience such as "remain silent" or "yawn now" and the like, and he planted himself behind Roach during the presentation and waved the signs to cue the salesman. But Hal got the last laugh. The ever-resourceful studio owner arranged to ship the signs home to his studio where he planned to steal the stunt for an upcoming picture.
While Hollywood's production schedules in early '42 were largely skewed toward war-related and patriotic fare, no studio went so far as to portray the world leaders as fools. During filming, word got out that Roach was making a comedy film to lampoon the evil leaders and portray them as fools and many in Hollywood thought Roach might be crossing the boundaries of good taste. The interest went as far as Washington, where the federal government was debating the potential effectiveness of such 'propoganda' films as a tool to influence national sentiment. Wrote Variety, "This will be the first film made during the war that goes so far in its excoriation of Hitler, especially via a humorous vein, and thus there's double interest in it academically."
Legendary Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons mentioned the shooting in her column, writing: "The title, "Hitler's Valet," suggests all sorts of comedy and it probably will be nonsense of a high order since it's a Hal Roach movie. It's Glenn Tryon's first production assignment for Hal and, thank goodness, Mr. Roach has gone back to comedy - the thing he does so well and which gave him his reputation as a producer. The plot of "Hitler's Valet" is being kept under lock and key, but we are told the ex-paper hanger, Hitler, the former strike-agitator, Mussolini, and the yellow-hued Hirohito will all be with us in their true colors."
The film was shot in March 1942 but not released until October.
Upon its release, reviews were mixed. Variety liked the picture, while the New York Times critic absolutely hated it. His review carefully strung together as many incendiary words and phrases as his limited column would allow, calling the streamliner "malodorous," "an appalling disregard for the temper of these times," "infantile," "humorless," and "crude." He ended his review by calling the effort, "an affront to public taste and the public interest."
The movie opened at the Globe at 205 West 46th Street in New York (now the Lunt-Fontanne Theater), where the triumphant marquee announced "1942's Laff Panic." Inside the theater, a life size image of Hitler hung from gallows in the lobby and it was poked and punched repeatedly by many servicemen who entered. The thing took such a beating that a crew from United Artists was forced to hang a sign on the figure reading "Please Don't Touch the Louse." Still, during the course of the run the Hitler effigy required the nose to be changed four times while a crew was brought in to iron out other dents on his face. Not every serviceman punched or struck it - some just spat at it.

Alan Mowbray
Bobby Watson
Adolf Hitler
George E. Stone
Suki Yaki
Joe Devlin
Benito Mussolini
Marjorie Woodworth
Linda Kraus
Douglas Fowley
Walter Beeter
Herman Bing
Sig Arno
Rudolph Anders
Nazi officer at Hitler's filmed speech
Sven Hugo Borg
Gestapo guard
Jack Chefe
Tom Coleman
Gestapo officer
Arno Frey
Gestapo guard
Kit Guard
Doorman in Hell
Gestapo guard
Eddie Hall
Gestapo officer
John Miljan
Chairman, board of directors in Hell
John T. Murray
Member of board of director in Hell
William Ruhl
Gestapo guard
Hans Schumm
Gestapo guard
Philip Van Zandt
Gestapo officer
Ellinor Vanderveer
Hans Von Morhart
Gestapo guard
William Yetter Sr.
Gestapo guard
Wolfgang Zilzer
Otto Schultz

CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

Gene Sorkin (help)
Greg Wilczek (extensive research and most of the trivia notes)

This page was last updated on: 01 January 2024