1960s Where Eagles Dare (1969)

Published on November 8th, 2007 | by Chris

1

Where Eagles Dare (1969)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On November 8, 2007
Last modified:October 6, 2012

Summary:

Where Eagles Dare might be on a lot of "must see" classic war movie lists, but not mine. I just couldn't bring myself to like it. It's just too long and involved, trying to be a complicated mystery/espionage thriller, only to turn out to be a lame formula action chase in the end.

Where Eagles Dare (1969)Alright! An epic, classic, World War II flick with Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton! This has to be good!

Well, I have to admit to never seeing Where Eagles Dare until last night.  And I have to say I was very underwhelmed by the whole thing.  A lot of "lists" put this near the top of the all-time war movie classics, and I just don't get it.

Why? Because frankly the whole thing is quite, well, tedious.  Major Smith (Richard Burton) gets tapped to head a top secret commando raid on a German castle high atop a mountain in the Alps, reachable only by cable car.  Lt. Schaffer (Clint Eastwood) is the only American in the bunch.  Why really isn't made clear.  I think it was mentioned, but it really isn't clear at all.

Well they parachute in, followed covertly by another British agent, one Mary Ellison (Mary Ure.)  Why this was done in total secrecy, even from the group isn't obvious, nor is it explained, but until the big "reveal" its one of those things you wonder about.

Anyway.  They manage to worm their way into the village at the foot of the mountain, and find out they've been discovered.  Two of their team have been mysteriously killed before, and then they up and turn themselves in.

There's more cloak and dagger stuff, as Smith meets up with his inside contact, Heidi (Jawhol!... I mean, Ingrid Pitt) who helps Mary to infiltrate the castle separately.  Unfortunately she attracts the attention of the local Gestapo stooge, who seems to sense something is wrong.

Well, this and that happens, and Smith and Schaffer end up around the dinner table in a totally confusing game of Clue with their German adversaries.  Really, if you didnt' know what was happening until now, even a little, your head will explode as Smith creates about five different stories about what is actually going on.  Only some of it is true, namely that the three remaining enlisted men in their group are *all* German agents.  (Whoops! Spoiled it!)  Sigh.  And thus concludes about the most interesting part of the movie.

From there we spend roughly an hour plus getting out of the castle, with numerous shootouts and explosions, and any number of extremely bad-with-a-gun Germans getting knocked off while our heroes escape with only a scratch.  There's lots of shots of Germans running about, yelling in German.  Lots of it.  Really during this last part you really start to wonder when its going to end.  At least the first half, before the "dinner table" scene, you were trying to follow the twists in the plot.  Afterwards it just gets mechanical.  And in the end we wind up on the same plane the team flew in on, for the anti-climactic big reveal....

Yes there is the infamous cable car scene, which really isn't all I was expecting it to be.

So overall I can't say it was a great experience.  Burton is his usual staid and stoic self, as is Eastwood.  And the soundtrack, man I've not heard a more pomp-and-circumstance (not in a good way) theme.  Ever.  I think it must've served as the inspiration for the main theme to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" as well, as I kept waiting for the obligatory airy trumpet blast, the two are that similar.

Where Eagles Dare might be on a lot of "must see" classic war movie lists, but not mine.  I just couldn't bring myself to like it.  It's just too long and involved, trying to be a complicated mystery/espionage thriller, only to turn out to be a lame formula action chase in the end.

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Description

TENSE AND SUSPENSEFUL WORLD WAR II ADVENTURE IN WHICH TWO ALLIESMUST RESCUE A CAPTURED AMERICAN GENERAL BEING HELD IN A FORTIFIED GERMAN CASTLE BEFORE THE NAZIS GET SECRET INFO ON HIM.

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Brand: Warner Manufacturing
Manufacturer: Warner Home Video
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Richard Burton
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Mary Ure
  • Patrick Wymark
  • Michael Hordern

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best WWII movies starring two of the greatest hunks of past years, November 13, 2016
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This review is from: Where Eagles Dare (DVD)
Oldie but goodie starring two of Hollywood's finest. Richard Burton really does a fine job (almost to the end of the movie) of keeping one guessing as to whether or not he is a true Allied soldier or a Nazi mole. A young Clint Eastwood turns in a stellar performance, one of just many to come during his stellar acting career. Both roles were made believable by these two fine actors whose acting abilities truly complimented each other throughout the film. During one of our European assignments, we actually traveled to the area in Austria where this movie was filmed and was, by sheer luck, able to tour the actual mountaintop fortress featured in the movie. Our visit was made even more surreal since a fresh, heavy snow had fallen the night before. Local villages outdid themselves by making our visit and overnight stay in their local Gast Hause (Guest house) a visit to truly remember. We were regaled with stories from locals (one old gentleman was well over 90) who were (and still... Read more
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clint at His Coldest - Awesome, if Improbable, War Flick!, October 5, 2012
By 
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This review is from: Where Eagles Dare (Amazon Video)
If you liked Inglourious Basterds, you will love Where Eagles Dare.

For those who try to keep up with the Eastwood Canon, this is a movie that is occasionally overlooked. It is, however, one of the best of the adventure style WWII movies made in the 1960s & 1970s. The movie is based on an original screenplay by Alistair MacLean. MacLean wrote the screenplay at the request of the film's producer and later wrote the novel based on his screenplay. It was his first screenplay and the producers were amazed that the script needed very little work after it was delivered by MacLean.

Richard Burton was the first recruited to star in the film, but he had to be sold on Clint Eastwood who was somewhat of an unknown, at least to Burton, in the supporting role of Lt. Morris Shaffer. Director Brian Hutton wanted Eastwood and also Leslie Caron for the role of agent Mary Ellison but Burton wanted Mary Ure for that role, so they traded off and settled for each others choices... Read more
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film but falls a little short in the presentation .(where's the intermission and corresponding Entr'act music??), July 2, 2014
By 
john robinson (Los Angeles) - See all my reviews
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One of the great WWII action movies from the sixties. I remember seeing this in London when I was a student. The transfer on this Blu-Ray is superb. Great contrast and enough dark detail to be totally absorbing. My only disappointment was that the Intermission was cut from this release unlike the excellent LaserDisc version which also included Ron Goodwin's compelling Entr'Act music. I'm hoping that there will be a future release with the original road-show version, Intermission and all. That will be the one to buy.
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Where Eagles Dare (1969) Chris

Summary: Where Eagles Dare might be on a lot of "must see" classic war movie lists, but not mine. I just couldn't bring myself to like it. It's just too long and involved, trying to be a complicated mystery/espionage thriller, only to turn out to be a lame formula action chase in the end.

2.6


User Rating: 4.6 (1 votes)


About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



One Response to Where Eagles Dare (1969)

  1. kevin says:

    One of the best, Period.

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