TV Cream

Films: H is for...

Hanussen

It sounds like the result of an especially uninspired round of ‘making up composite rubbish digital TV channels down the pub’, but this tale of psychic Nazis is better than its high concept sounds. When he waltzed up to the Coke boardroom in ’86, David Puttnam bandied the name of Hungarian director Istvan Szabo about to flaunt his longhair credentials. Money-mouth time came when the Magyar mogul was brought in to oversee this pan-MittelEuropean production, telling of the rise of a hypnotist-clairvoyant showman between the wars, who gets up to impressive mindbending frolics and predictions (including – yes – ‘I’m a chicken, Marge!’), until Hitler’s chums spot him getting the future all right, and make a proposition… Intriguing stuff, if a little visually threadbare (the First World War scenes look more like a half-arsed game of British Bulldog plus tin hats), but the commensurately meagre box office receipts failed in their mesmeric attempts to sway the opinions of Herr Coke.

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