The asylum, called the Temporal Displacement Foundation and presided over by avuncular Dr. Sam Cohen (Rene Auberjonois giving a delicious perf), specializes in dealing with patients who fantasize they’re famous historical characters. Inmate Michael Davidson (MacFadyen) is convinced he’s Hitler, and knows every intimate detail about the Fuhrer. As part of his therapy, Cohen encourages Davidson, and other inmates with Nazi leanings, to act out their fantasies.
Resulting film oddly resembles John Farrow’s wartime “The Hitler Gang,” which also explored the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. In Mora’s film, the diminutive Austrian convincingly bullies his way to the highest echelons of power in a defeated and divided Germany, railing against Communists and Jews, and convincing businessmen and community leaders that he has the answers to make Germany strong again.
He assembles his gang of supporters, with Brion James a standout as the uncouth Goering, and, as his power increases, ruthlessly eliminates opposition. Meanwhile, his sexual life is depicted in scenes with his young niece (Mena Suvari), who mysteriously dies after complaining about her uncle’s unnatural acts; with actress Renate Muller (Claudia Christian), who is threatened by Goebbels when she starts complaining about Hitler; and with the compliant Eva Braun (T.C. Warner).
These therapy sessions are often interrupted in amusing ways — once because Hitler’s uniform is at the dry cleaners and Davidson has difficulty playing the part without the trappings, and, on another occasion, when a patient who thinks he’s Pablo Picasso (Mick Fleetwood) stumbles onto the scene.
“Snide & Prejudice” is, by its nature, dominated by dialogue and performance, and could have worked equally well onstage. But despite what seems to have been a modest budget, Mora’s skill in exploring the lives and times of these evil characters should not be underestimated. Pic is often savagely funny, and MacFadyen’s Hitler is an astonishingly vivid characterization.