Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Where Eagles Plummet

One of my first blog posts proposed a film festival of all those WWII films with lots of mountain climbing. I finally got around to the second (and last?) film in that series: Where Eagles Dare (1968). It stars Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood as leaders of a group of commandos infiltrating an impregnable Nazi castle.

It starts real slow, with the team parachuting into the Bavarian Alps, with just a hint that something else is going on behind the mission. For one thing, Burton seems to have brought along a spare sex kitten (Mary Ure) that no one else knows about. For another, team members start dying and Burton is awfully cagey about it.

The mission is to get into a castle and recover a captured general before he can reveal the secret plans. The castle is on a hill, surrounded by a wall, approachable only by cable car. So, quite a bit of commando work - riding the top of the cable car (as if you couldn't guess), climbing walls with ropes (holy Batman re-runs!), skulking along roofs, etc. I loved this kind of stuff when I was a kid, but since I saw it for the first time now as an adult, I enjoyed it while being annoyed at the unlikely parts.

Things start to pick up in two ways: the plot starts to twist and the body start piling up. There is a lot of combat from hand-to-hand to machine gun melee to dynamite bombs. Eastwood kills a remarkable number of Nazis, and none of the good guys get more than a scratch. Plus, double-, triple-, who-knows-how-many-crosses. Alistair MacLean can really write the hell out of this kind of thing - like Guns of Navarone.

So, starts off slow, picks up after a while, but it's still 2-1/2 hours long. Wish I'd seen it when I was a kid and could appreciate it.

In conclusion, lots of people falling to their death in this movie. Where eagles dare, indeed.


mr. schprock said...

"Wish I'd seen it when I was a kid and could appreciate it."

Well, I saw it as a kid, back when the movie industry began using a rating system. This one was rated "M," for mature audiences, because it was violent and showed lots of blood. I remember the traitor in the group was revealed as a Nazi because, while masqueraded as a low-ranking Nazi, and actual Nazi showing a higher rank saluted him, giving away the fact that he was a real Nazi who ranked higher than the higher-ranking Nazi - or else, why would a higher-ranking Nazi salute a lower-ranking Nazi? Maybe I'm not explaining that well. Let me try again. Oh, never mind, you saw the movie. Good to know it still holds up.

Beveridge D. Spenser said...

I always thought I had seen this movie, and now I wonder if it was because you told me about it.

I noticed the salute, but strangely didn't get the importance.