Netflixable? Nazis and German townspeople fight over “Blood & Gold”

“Blood & Gold” is a sadistically funny German Spaghetti Western set in the last days of World War II.

Suspenseful and violent, with brawls, booby traps, impalings and machine gunnings, it’s damned entertaining in the ways it finds to kill people, and in the ironic tunes that often accompany the violence — German pop of the war years by Marlene Dietrich and others, and melodies from real Westerns.

Stefan Barth’s script and director Peter Thorwarth (“Blood Red Sky”) fold in gold, greed, grief and guilt, the savagery of Naziism and the “blood rage” of combat as it mashes up “Kelly’s Heroes,” “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and “Inglourious Basterds” for what boils down to a simple story of revenge.

What’s not so simple is how many people want it — the gold and the revenge — in tiny Sonnenberg, Germany in May of 1945.

“Blood & Gold” begins with a chase, capture and hanging. Combat veteran Heinrich (Robert Maaser, “1917”) has deserted. “The war is lost,” Allied planes buzz overheard and the lines are collapsing all around them. Widowed, Heinrich just wants to go find his little girl.

But the SS Lt. Col. von Starnfeld (Alexander Scheer) , a facially-deformed monster straight out of comic books, isn’t having it. And his dogged second in command, Dorfler (Florian Schmidke) hunts down the “coward” and has his minions hang him.

As in the Old West, not every hanging “takes.” The intervention of the intrepid farmwoman Elsa (Marie Hacke of “Outlander”) saves Heinrich and takes him home. But when that same unit comes to her farm looking for edible livestock, she and her special needs brother (Simon Rupp) are dragged into a shameful, genocidal war’s ugly ending.

Because what the SS wants is Jewish gold allegedly buried in a house in tiny Sonnenberg. When they get it, the Col. and his crew can slip through the lines and into new lives, right?

Surely the mayor (Stephan Grossmann) knows where the gold is. But the go-along-to-get-along innkeeper, donning his Nazi burgermeister uniform, “knows nothing about that (in German with subtitles, or dubbed),” or so he says.

Bet you he’s lying. Bet you the whole town was in on their mini “pogrom.” But maybe not.

The narrative serves up several points of view and competing agendas — murderous SS goons, Heinrich, Elsa, and townsfolk factions.

But everybody’s greed, temper and rash rage gets the better of them as the murderous uniformed men who murder in Germany’s name, after all, think nothing of torturing their countrymen, taking them hostage and even killing their fellow Germans over this cache of ingots.

There are just enough soldiers left to provide fodder for many a shootout, stabbing, grenading and pitch-forking as lines are crossed and blood is spilled that must be avenged.

The story has clever fight-scene choreography and problem-solving, and all the rational logic and mathematical competence — far more minions are killed than we count in their first group scene — of a B-movie, married to the murderous glee of your typical Tarantino film.

Maaser and Hacke are terrific, letting us see their characters pushed to violence, and damned good at it when they are. Schmidke is relentlessly vile, and Scheer a classic black-leather-trenchcoated Nazi monster.

Thorwarth doesn’t know when to drop the mike. That’s why they call it an “anti-climax,” kamerad. But if you like war movies where Nazis get what’s coming to them, “Blood & Gold” fills the bill and then some.

Rating: TV-MA, graphic violence including sexual assault, profanity

Cast: Robert Maaser, Marie Hacke, Florian Schmidke, Alexander Scheer, Stephan Grossman

Credits: Directed by Peter Thorwarth, scripted by Stefan Barth. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:38


About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.

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