the fresh films reviews

S I N C E   1 9 9 7



Where Eagles Dare (1968)

Brian G. Hutton
158 minutes
Elliott Kastner
Alistair MacLean

Cast includes:

Smith Richard Burton ½
Schaffer Clint Eastwood
Mary Mary Ure ½
Turner Patrick Wymark
Rolland Michael Hordern
Christiansen Donald Houston
Berkeley Peter Barkworth -
Thomas William Squire -
Carnaby Robert Beatty -
von Hapen Derren Nesbitt ½
Heidi Ingrid Pitt -
Col. Kramer Anton Diffring ½



This mother of the modern action movie was more or less commissioned by Richard Burton, whose children wanted to see him in a classical action-adventure. He approached producer Elliott Kastner, who hired Scottish thriller writer Alistair MacLean, and the result became a film which encapsulates just about everything that is fun about movies. Everything from the brilliantly convoluted plot to the upliftingly carefree execution is edge-of-your-seat stuff. Burton and Eastwood didn't seem to take the story all that seriously, but that may well be one of this timeless semi-masterpiece's many strokes of genius. Their nonchalant, machismo performances set the tone for how their characters' otherworldly brilliance and bravery took care of the constantly short-sighted (but never short-staffed) nazis. What makes it work so well as a suspense movie, however – both then and now – is that even though the characters' execution is effortlessly flawless, Alistair MacLean's script is so tightly wound and clever in its simplicity that it keeps you pinned even after decades of repeated viewings. If the action genre was ever perfected, it was with this film with its equal measures of well-applied cliches and creative brilliance. And if you're one of the few unfortunate who cannot look past the simple dichotomy and inauthenticity of post-WWII war films, you will at least enjoy the immensely fantastic musical score by Ron Goodwin, which is the real star of this show. From the opening titles and until the very end, it is his drums and strings that drive the suspense forward and create the seductive, chauvinistic ambience that makes you want to join the military and fight Nazis with Major Smith's suave intelligence and Schaffer's unassailable confidence.



Smith: You enjoyed your trip?
Mary: Horrorly. I nearly froze to death in that damned plane. Why couldn't you supply hot water bottles and an electric heated suit? I thought you loved me.
Smith: I can't help what you think.

Smith: Take your clothes off.
Mary: But I...
Smith: No, no. Take. Your. Clothes off.
[Smith starts kissing Mary. Mary agrees.]
Smith: Relax. I didn't mean it that way. You're going up to the castle tonight as... well... yes as a domestic.
Mary: How? Naked?
Smith: Not a bad idea, but a bit too obvious.

Smith: Lieutenant, in the next 15 minutes we have to create enough confusion to get us out of here alive.
Schaffer: Major, right now you got me about as confused as I ever hope to be.


Unofficial Swedish website in English.

Re-reviewed: Copyright © 24.10.2016 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review:
Copyright © 10.1.2000 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang