Movie Club: The Eagle Has Landed

Discussion in 'Introductions & Off Topic' started by LiamABC, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    WELCOME EVERYBODY TO THE LATEST DISCUSSION THREAD OF MOVIE CLUB. A big thanks to everyone that are joining us through all of this.

    This week we're covering the classic war film The Eagle Has Landed.

    Remember any ideas for films to discuss are most welcome, and should be made on the Movie Club Introduction thread (the sticky one), and anyone is welcome to add their thoughts about movies already discussed on their respective threads.

    Just a friendly reminder to everyone that, whilst fans are obviously welcome to passionately discuss and give their views on these movies, please remember to keep things on a friendly footing and respect your fellow posters.
    Also, please do not post where or how to find the full movie online. And do not post asking others to PM it to you. You are however allowed to watch the movie in whatever manner you want.
  2. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    What a great movie based on one of Jack Higgins' best and most famous novels.
    I read the book in 2007 a couple years before I scene the movie and thankfully the movie is very faithful to the book.
    I am not a big fan of WW2 movies but of the few I like this is probably my favourite.

    Michael Caine is brilliant as Kurt Steiner. I like Michael Caine but I find a lot of his films to be quite hit and miss.
    I also enjoyed Donald Sutherland as Liam Devlin. A great actor who has been in all sorts of movies.
    Donald Sutherland also acted in two other WW2 movies I liked ''Kelly's Heroes'' and ''The Eye Of The Needle''.
    Jenny Agutter was also very good as Molly. She has had quite a lot of different roles in a broad range of movies and TV shows. One of the most recent high profile roles being in Avengers Assemble and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
    The whole cast are great.

    The plot is very believable.
    Steiner is an interesting character as we get to see at the start of the film he may be a soldier but he is not a monster when he helps the Polish girl.
    One of the best scenes is when one of Steiner's troops saves the child, but in doing so reveals his German uniform.
    In some ways the setting in the small town of Studley Constable in Norfolk reminds me quite a bit of Dad's Army. :D

    I really wish they had made a move of the sequel novel ''The Eagle Has Flown''.

    Overall a really good film and one of the best WW2 movies.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
  3. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    I saw this film once about 15yrs ago, and have just seen it for the second time.

    The problem going in is that it's up against history. We focus, from the point of view of the villains mainly, on this plot to assassinate Churchill. Unfortunately, we know this didn't happen to Churchill so we know this mission is doomed to fail from the outset. Unless you add a time-travel element to this story, in which someone goes back in time to assassinate Churchill and then someone else goes back to stop the assassination, there's really no suspense. The Day Of The Jackal suffers from the same problem. They try to shock the audience at the end, with Captain Clark believing for a minute that Steiner has actually succeeded in his mission, but we know from history that this can't be the case, so the audience reaction is not "oh my god he's killed Churchill" so much as, "hang on, that can't be right!"

    Still, if you can put that aside, there's a lot of good elements in this film. To be fair to the would-be assassins, their plan is only foiled by the most fantastic stroke of luck, one of them accidentally dying while saving the life of a child. Up until that point, there is a strong vibe of "nothing can possibly go wrong" - although of course you know something has to.

    The music by Lalo Schiffrin is outstanding, and I recognised immediately the hand that penned the score for one of the two Musketeers films from 1973-4 - they were scored by two different composers, The Three Musketeers was scored by Michel Legrand, while Schiffrin scored the second half of the story, i.e. The Four Musketeers, and the two scores are remarkably close in style so I couldn't be certain which of them it was scoring this until I saw the credit about a minute or two into the film.

    There are some great lines, and the interplay between the German officers is good - Anthony Quayle and Donald Pleasance both playing real-life figures, we all know who Himmler was, but also Admiral Canaris was the chief of German intelligence during WW2. I like the way that the plan is initially conceived as humouring the Fuhrer, but elements fall into place to make it suddenly seem plausible to Colonel Radl to make a genuine attempt.

    The cast are pretty decent too, Michael Caine here is a far cry from any of his other famous roles. His second-in-command is played by Sven Bertil Taube, who I know from his starring role in "Puppet On A Chain", one of the more faithful film adaptions of an Alistair MacLean novel. Jenny Agutter is famous mainly for The Railway Children, but also appeared in Logan's Run alongside Michael York, and an episode of Red Dwarf in the 1990s. Anthony Quayle I know from a couple of other WW2 films - The Guns Of Navarone, which we discussed on here a while back, and The Battle Of The River Plate, which was based on real historical events, he played the commodore in overall command of the four British ships - but also he was in Alfred Hitchcock's true-life thriller The Wrong Man as the lawyer. Donald Pleasance of course needs no introduction, from Blofeld to The Great Escape, not to mention the 1970s TV movie of The Count Of Monte Cristo. And Jean Marsh is another name I know from a Hitchcock film, 1972's Frenzy. Not one of his best, but still...

    So yes, this film has its moments, but the concept is iffy going in. It's good but it's built on a flawed premise.
  4. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    @LiamABC all WW2 films have the same problem. We know who wins.
    The only WW2 films I like are stories about missions not essential to the victory of the war.
    The plot though about assassinating Churchill is an odd one as we know it didn't happen but, I guess that's the plot twist at the end with the Churchill they did kill being a fake.
    It's kind of like the Usual Suspects in a way...except the ending wasn't as predictable.
  5. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Sure we know who won the war, but at least most war films aren't asking you to get behind a group of bad guys who are trying to accomplish a very specific thing that you know didn't happen.

    This film is asking us to invest emotionally in a group of Nazis. OK, so at the beginning they have this scene where Steiner helps a Jewish girl in her attempt to escape, like that's meant to make us root for him. We can respect that he's a soldier following orders but has a conscience of his own, but no more. We can't actively get behind his team on their mission. Now, if he was going to ultimately switch sides, that would have been different, but that's not what happened. We have no grounds for getting behind him in his mission. So we're spending two and a quarter hours following someone we're not supporting on a mission we know he is ultimately going to fail at.

    The plot twist about the dead man being a double for Churchill isn't that much of one, because you knew that despite what Steiner thought, and what Clark thought, that that Winston Churchill had not just been assassinated. So ultimately it's rather more predictable. The ending to The Usual Suspects may have been guessable, but the editing montage at the end that shows how he did it makes it work beautifully.
  6. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I guess it is a bit hard to root for them on their mission overall. Although they aren't really given much of a choice n taking the mission.
    Also they don't exactly fail, he does assassinate Churchill...just not the real one. ;)

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