Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend (1992) Review by RevTerry

Loneliness and movies make a good pair. One of my favorite theater moments happened during a showing of Her (2013) a few years ago. The Spike Jonze film had already been out for a while, and some friends and I were catching a showing at the last discount place in town. As often was the case at this particular location, we almost had the house to ourselves, the only other party being a lone gentleman seated in the front row. Our fellow patron was a rugged twenty years older than my crew of young looking thirty-somethings, and he did his best not to acknowledge us as we entered loudly. Once the movie started, I quickly forgot about him and settled into the hip, emotional science fiction on screen. I'll admit I got into the sappy mainstream feels. What can I say? I'm a sucker for man-machine love stories. I wasn't the only one. Later in the film, I started to hear an odd noise, which seemed out of place in the film’s audio mixing. I barely noticed at first, but the organic sound got louder with each depressing turn in the story. It wasn't until the movie’s final twenty minutes that I was able to discern what I had been hearing. The single man in the front row had been letting out sobs through the sci-fi drama's many sad parts. Never quite becoming cries, his somber whimpers fit so well with the mood, they just felt like part of the production. For the rest of the showing I listened closely during the moments I felt strongest about hoping for validation. I don't think I will ever truly know if that film was actually effective or if I was just in the middle of some kind of cosmic sadness triangle involving Joaquin Phoenix and a random fellow moviegoer. Whatever the fuck it was, it was beautiful. Isolation is a driving force for the film medium. Sad people make great art, and as a viewer, it feels good to know you're not the only piece of shit floating around. Extreme cases of the infliction make people do crazy things, and that's always entertaining (if not relatable). For another high-class example of the marriage between loneliness and film, only with much less of Scarlett Johansson's voice and a lot more hookers, we can look at  Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend (1992).
Marcus Templeton (Andren Scott) is unhappy and alone. He lives in a rundown apartment (with thin walls) which he pays for with an unfulfilling job as a nighttime security guard. At a hard thirty-one, his health is declining, and he has become overweight, due in part to a diet consisting of TV dinners and Slim Jim's. Seemingly unable to make meaningful relationships, his time is spent alone with only his television for company. The closest thing he has to a sex life is a hearty porn addiction and his peeping Tom habit. To make matters worse, it's getting harder and harder to reach an erection, which threatens to strip away one of his few daily activities. On one occasion, he stumbles upon an escort ad, and after some low balling, invites a call girl over to his place. Not quite the girlfriend experience, but a better waste of money than infomercial products, Marcus begins hiring the service regularly and recording the events for later use. Two weeks, a venereal disease, and his entire life savings later, Marcus has no regrets.
Told almost entirely through internal dialogue, Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend chronicles a lazy downward spiral into greasy human obscurity with blunt humor. There isn't really a story structure, just a sad waltz between bad decisions and repeat activities as Marcus meditates on his world, making thin excuses when he can. Starting with “When did things get this way?”, the film follows its subject’s musings like a diary, broken into interconnected vignettes. From off-screen, Marcus talks through his thought process as the viewer watches those ideas dissolve into impotent realization. Intercut between the details of Marcus's stagnant lifestyle are chunks of the outside influences he receives through softcore porn, religious propaganda, and disapproving manifestations of his father. The deep, dark humor is always there, but it's hard to laugh at and almost impossible to explain. It's a very funny movie, however, the comedy is going to hit everyone at a different angle, and it's probably going to be uncomfortable despite the consistent silliness. It parodies the ugly parts of being human that get scrubbed from the usual lovable scumbag male trope.  An authentic creep, Marcus isn't a good person, just great depiction of human garbage built from equal parts empathy and harsh judgment. Each goofy or wince-inducing ingredient has ties to reality, far removed from the outlandish hijinks of the normal exciting, eccentric slacker. He is someone we have all met before, a person we know well or can identify with (whether you want to or not). The character is so broad that only the luckiest among us would miss finding a raw nerve in the trash pile. You don't have to be a pervert with an addiction to hookers to reflect on the self-inflicted plight, any kind of piece of shit will do. Nothing is ever drastic, or momentous. Things get gradually worse with no fateful crash or “Falling Down” moment of realization. Its tone is slow, aimless and sometimes seems intent with just being there drenched in quirky misery. The end comes across as abrupt without satisfactory resolution. Undignified, the story concludes with no meaningful change or a point, and Marcus leaves a negligible impact on the world around him-- it took me a while to realize how perfect that was.
Apart from the thick padding of homemade striptease footage, the movie is essentially a deviant slob’s memoirs recorded over his contemptible daily routine. Marcus is rarely seen talking on screen. The bulk of his dialogue is heard while he emotes on a couch. When interacting with the various paid women he brings home, the camera avoids him or moves to his point of view for an interview-like conversation. It's hard to tell where some things are happening as most scenes have the same decor (nothing). The cut between Marcus, his fantasies, and what's on television are undefined and blur together with only partial intention. Its assembly resembles a frugal documentary making do with limited sources. Almost half of the film is dingy looking footage of bored women taking their clothes off. Its non-existent budget is evident in every aspect of the production, but it only stands to strengthen the theme. The Fluctuating audio, lighting and camera work just make it feel more authentically gross, like a tape found under a neighbor's couch you should never have watched. Aside from the naked women, the film could have been made in the late 80s with ten bucks for jerky and a really good friend. Altogether It is bottom of the barrel production levels, with disreputable content and an unsavory name that wouldn't work any other way.
The film was shot and put together by artist Ronnie Cramer from a script by David Manning (based on a story by T.G. Baker). A painter, musician and experimental renaissance man, Cramer produced a range of film projects in the late 80s including animated shorts, Avant-garde visual pieces, and documentaries. Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend is his most noted work to date receiving national notoriety as well as a shout out from Joe Bob Briggs. The film's small crew was made up of frequent collaborators, and Cramer’s band Alarming-Trends supplied the soundtrack. The soul of the picture lays in Andren Scott, a longtime friend of Cramer who had appeared in his previous film Back Street Jane (1989). Scott’s dry delivery, telling facial expressions, and chronically average appearance create depth from very little. Putting a lot on display (including most of his naked body) the vulnerability in Scott’s performance brings cringe-inducing authenticity to an awesomely fucked up role. Sadly, in 1994 after appearing in only two releases, he was fatally shot at a Denver 7-Eleven while working as nighttime clerk. A sequel was in the works at the time of the tragedy, and released posthumously, as The Hitler Tapes (1994). The majority of the cast lists this film (and its sequel) as their only acting credit. Everyone looks and speaks like someone you could find in an average city, with performances that seem more disturbingly natural than amateur.
Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend (1992) is a no-frills cautionary tale told through your creepy uncle's unlabeled tape collection. Bare bones and offbeat, it is a beautifully disgusting study of the male human animal pre-pornhub. Not a film for everyone, It is as painful to watch as it is funny and could possibly make you ashamed to own a dick (if you have one and weren't already). The entire thing feels personal like a sweaty, discarded poem that wasn't meant to be seen. There is nothing like it--I would call it a masterpiece, but no one would believe me. From up close, the film showcases the somewhat extreme effects of loneliness with dark humor. It's not horror, but there is a good chance it is the scariest movie I have reviewed. With the right circumstances and some bad decisions, any ordinary asshole could become a version of Marcus. Now that I think about it, I wonder if that sad stranger in the front row is coming around. At the very least I hope he has a handle on his hooker expenses.
1h 38min | 1992
 Director: Ronnie Cramer
Writers: T.G. Baker (story), David Manning 

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Review by:
RevTerry

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