A young Bill Nighy as Helmut Hoffmann
The two-part TV movie Hitler’s SS: Portrait in Evil crystallizes that evil by concentrating on two Berlin brothers. In 1931, Helmut Hoffman (Bill Nighy) a brilliant student and self-styled opportunist, joins Hitler’s SS. At the same time, his younger brother Karl (John Shea), a top athlete and idealist, becomes a chauffeur for the “S.A.” (storm troopers). When the SS topples the SA from power, Karl ends up in Dachau. He is rescued through his brother’s influence–if you can describe sending Karl to fight on the Russian Front a “rescue.” As he watches the Third Reich deteriorate, Helmut at long last suffers pangs of conscience. As if the story of the rise of Nazism needed any further melodrama, Hitler’s SS shoehorns in a romantic triangle involving Karl, Helmut, and beautiful nightclub-singer Lucy Gutteridge. The all-star supporting cast of Hitler’s SS includes Carroll Baker as the Hoffman brothers’ anguished mother; Tony Randall as an androgynous entertainer named Putzi (shades of Cabaret’s Joel Grey); and David Warner, repeating his Holocaust role as SS head man Heydrich.