Thursday, 15 July 2010

Daring Eagles

Where Eagles Dare 1968 US
Directed by Richard G. Hutton
Warner Brothers DVD Region 2

I should have probably seen this movie already but I’m really not big on War films and when I was a kid it seemed to be playing every other week on TV back then... so I sort of avoided it like the plague. My curiosity was piqued, however, when I bought the limited edition Film Score Monthly soundtrack release a few years back. I was quite impressed with Goodwin’s score and the write up of the film in the always excellent liner notes that FSM put out really made me want to give the movie a watch.

Fast forward to my holiday this year and it turns out the house I’d rented had, not only two DVD players, but also a copy of Where Eagles Dare. So made some time on my holiday to sit down and watch what I’d assumed would be a 90 minute movie... only to find the beast was at least two and a half hours long. And it really didn’t need to be.

For the few people other than me who have never bothered to watch this movie, Where Eagles Dare stars Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood and assorted other high profile character actors in the story of a unit that go on a rescue mission to a snowbound German castle behind enemy lines to pull out a British soldier who’s supposedly been shot down by the Nazi’s. But really, this film gets so convoluted and twisty-turny that by the end of the film I had no idea who to trust and who not to. Almost everyone in the film other than Clint Eastwood seems to be not what they seem and I almost lost track of the double agents who turned out to be treble agents etc. Ha! Shot down plane my ass!

Though impressive in intent and scope, I did find this epic movie a bit of a drag and quite unnecessary in some of its ponderous action and suspense sequences, especially towards the last half hour.

The acting by Burton and Eastwood was good (although Eastwood had a deliberately minimalist kind of role, more in keeping with the image he’d recently cultivated in his films for Sergio Leone) but I didn’t really think much of the silliness of some of the things happening. This reached it’s apex for me quite early in the film when Burton and Eastwood decide to get rid of their crashed jeep by pushing it off a cliff edge. Even before the guys have finished pushing it almost, the thing caught fire and burst into flames. Why? For what reason do things burst into flames in these 70s movies? There’s really no need and it defies physics!

I think, at the end of the day, my verdict on Where Eagles Dare is that it’s an overlong but not unentertaining movie which could have used some judicious pruning.

Oh... and it’s got a great score!

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