The Angry Hills (1959)

The Angry Hills casts Robert Mitchum as an American foreign correspondent embedded to use today’s terminology with the British troops who are evacuating Greece after the German invasions blitzkrieg catches them flat footed in the summer of 1941. The Germans were invading to pull their Italian ally’s chestnuts out of the fire as the Italians got bogged down in the Balkans. This took needed troops from their Russian invasion and in my personal opinion it was the point where Hitler started losing the war.

But who knew that then. Mitchum comes into possession of a list of underground contacts and the Nazis in the person of SS Colonel Marius Goring and Gestapo head Stanley Baker spend the entire picture covering both Athens and the countryside in search of him. Neither Baker or Goring are too squeamish in their methods.

I think the film might have been better had Mitchum been a bit more interested in the project. According to Lee Server’s comprehensive biography on him, he was most indifferent. For the usual reasons with him he was on the film simply for a Greek vacation.

The supporting players took up some of the slack and the ones to watch out for are Baker and Theodore Bikel. Especially Bikel he was truly hateful as Nazi collaborator who pimps out his sister to Baker who has her children as hostages. The sister is Elizabeth Mueller who in turn is pimped out to Mitchum to draw him into a Nazi trap.

Bad or mediocre pictures never prevented Mitchum from having a good time. Server’s book tells a rollicking story of Mitchum and Stanley Baker matching drinks with Mitchum a clear winner. Baker was no slouch in the hell-raising department, but apparently he was outclassed.