Against odds, Germans warm to Cruise in Nazi film

Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:31am EST
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By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN (Reuters) - Tom Cruise has defied expectations and won favorable reviews from German critics for his portrayal of a Prussian army officer who tried to assassinate Hitler in 1944 in the Hollywood film "Valkyrie."

German reviewers who were initially highly suspicious have warmed to the film, describing it as a serious work, and Cruise has overcome unease about his suitability for the role.

"'Valkyrie' is neither scandalously bad nor the event of the century. Neither is it the action thriller we feared, but it is a well-made and serious film," said public broadcaster ZDF.

"Cruise plays his part decisively, coolly -- a solid performance, though he won't have a sniff at an Oscar."

The Hollywood actor plays Colonel Claus Von Stauffenberg, who planted a briefcase bomb under a table at Hitler's military headquarters in eastern Prussia on July 20, 1944. The heavy wooden table saved Hitler, who suffered only minor injuries.

Stauffenberg was executed the same night with his co-conspirators and his legacy helps ease the burden of guilt about World War Two and the Holocaust Germans still endure.


Initially, Germans baulked at the prospect of Cruise, star of blockbusters such as "Top Gun," playing Stauffenberg. Stauffenberg's son even called on Cruise to "keep his hands off my father" and go home.   Continued...

<p>Tom Cruise arrives for the premiere of the film "Valkyrie" in New York December 15, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>