Boys from Brazil, The (1978): Ira Levin Novel on Screen, Starring Gregory Peck as Nazi and Olivier in Oscar Nominated Performance

Fox (ITC Entertainment)

In the transfer from page to screen, The Boys from Brazil, Ira Levin’s popular novel has been diluted, losing the bite and the little credibility of the book, which was kind of guilty pleasure reading.

Cast against type, Gregory Peck, usually playing heroic roles, is a Nazi geneticist (a Josef Mengele type) whose ambition is to create million of clones in the shape of genius Adolph Hitler.

Laurence Olivier steals every scene he is in as Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, a man obsessively committed to his cause.

Director Franklin J. Schaffner, who had made a much better job with the 1970 “Patton,” for which he won the Oscar, had the smarts of casting the secondary roles with skillful stage actors, such as Brits Rosemary Harris, Michael Gough, and Denholm Elliott, American Uta Hagen (better known as acting guru, in a rare screen appearance), Austrian Lili Palmer, and the always reliable James Mason.

Oscar Nominations: 3

Actor: Laurence Olivier
Score (Original): Jerry Goldsmith
Film Editing: Robert E. Swink

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context

This was Olivier’s tenth and last Oscar nomination; the winner was Jon Voight for “Coming Home.” The scoring Oscar went to Giorgio Moroder for “Midnight Express,” and the editing award to Peter Zinner for “The Deer Hunter.”