Published on November 8th, 2007 | by Chris1
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.
Where Eagles Dare
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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 InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Brand: Warner Manufacturing
Manufacturer: Warner Home Video
Original Release Date:
- Richard Burton
- Clint Eastwood
- Mary Ure
- Patrick Wymark
- Michael Hordern
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.