Movie Club: Where Eagles Dare

Discussion in 'Introductions & Off Topic' started by LiamABC, Sep 7, 2017.

  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    A big thanks to everyone that are joining us through all of this.

    This week, we're looking at another classic WW2 movie, "Where Eagles Dare".

    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 episodes, 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. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Well, if nobody has anything to say, I'll share my comments.

    This movie was, back in my mid-teens, my first introduction to Alistair MacLean as a writer. It's based on his book, and he wrote the screenplay at the same time, after being asked by his friend Richard Burton if he could write something that he (Burton) could take his 12-yr-old son to see in the cinema. Burton of course ended up starring in the movie, and I wonder if MacLean had him in mind from the get-go . . .

    MacLean wrote his own screenplay for the movie at the same time as he wrote the book, so I'm sure I won't surprise anyone when I say this is the most faithful film adaption of any of his books. Curiously, he himself was a little disappointed by the film. And while I will concede that maybe they could have trimmed off a 15-20min without losing anything of substance, it's still brilliant, and as film adaptions of his books go, it ranks second only to The Guns Of Navarone, which we covered a few months back.

    The major difference between the book and the film is the body count - it's much higher in the film, they don't go shooting everyone pretty much on sight in the book. I don't regard this as a major issue, after all, they're fighting for their lives trying to get out of the castle, it's the law of the jungle. Speaking of body counts, this movie is Clint Eastwood's highest on-screen body count as an actor!

    This has a major twist on the "one of us is a traitor" cliche, which is something MacLean did well as a writer, certainly in his earlier work, there's be scenes in the books where you'd think, "oh, I know what cliche is coming up here" and then it wouldn't. (Some of his later books were a little weaker in that respect, and I had the ending of "Circus" figured out before I was even halfway through.)

    It's something that really needs to be watched a second time to fully appreciate all the twists and turns in the story. Or maybe I'm just saying that because the first time I saw the film was late at night, my mother recommended staying up for it, and it finished at about 1am, so I wasn't at my best by then!

    Michael Hordern as Admiral Rolland is worth a mention here, because yes, that's the same man who narrated the original animated adaption of Paddington Bear! Hard to believe! He and Patrick Wymark (Colonel Turner) have some great scenes together, although there's one line in the book from Rolland to Turner that sadly didn't make it to the film. I won't repeat it here simply because it sort of gives a clue to the ending.

    One thing I can never stop myself from doing when I show this film to someone is, when Major Smith (Burton) rendezvouses with Mary Ellison (Mary Ure) for the first time, say, "if that's what she looked like after jumping from a plane and trudging through miles of snow, no wonder he was so eager to see her!" Of course, his own line when he rejoins his team, "I ran into this fabulous blonde" - is pure gold, because we know he's telling the truth, but we also know, as does he, that there's no way it will be believed! That line isn't in the book, and I wonder if he only thought of it after the book came out (the book was 1967, the film 1968).

    This film (and book) actually influenced a scene in one of my Visionaries fanfics, "Foreign Eyes". There's a scene I wrote in it where Witterquick basically does with the Darkling Lords what Major Smith does in this with the Germans.

    In any event, yes, this is a great film!
    Mark M likes this.
  3. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    What a great movie.
    Burton and Eastwood were great in this movie.
    If I had to pick a favourite scene it would probably be the escape from the castle.​
    LiamABC likes this.
  4. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    Sorry. I had honestly forgotten that I had not yet posted my views of the movie. Once threads stop appearing on the front forum page they kinda slip my mind.

    I enjoyed the movie immensely!! I had only seen bits of it when I was young. This is the first time I saw it properly form start to finish. There are no doubt numerous fans of the "1960s WW2 Action movies" genre. I have only seen one other movie in that group and that is "The Great Escape", another very enjoyable movie! I am still waiting to watch "Lawrence of Arabia".

    Coming back to "Where Eagles Dare", even though the whole plan seems a bit far-fetched (almost like the "Ocean Eleven" movies where everything has to work perfectly at the perfect time in the perfect place), one does not get time to linger too much on that. The fast pace, crazy action and funny antics are enough to keep anyone amused.

    Burton is the epitome of cool. He doesn't appear to get nervous even for a second, no matter how dangerous the situation he may be in. His banter with Eastwood is just hilarious. "Broad sword calling Danny boy" is now part of Hollywood lexicon.
    LiamABC likes this.
  5. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Absolutely. The nature of what the heroes are really after does seem odd, and like I said, needs to be viewed a second time, or at least with a sharp mind the first time, to fully appreciate. British intelligence going all the way to Germany to flush out a mole of their own does seem like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but it's entertaining enough. If you ask any Alistair MacLean fans what their favourite film adaption of one of his books is, the majority will be split between this and The Guns Of Navarone, which we did on here a while back. If you get the time, have a watch of that one and let me know what you think.

    About half of MacLean's books were filmed.

    The top two, like I said, are undoubtably:
    The Guns Of Navarone
    Where Eagles Dare

    The next echelon for me consists - not coincidentally I'm sure - of the other ones where he wrote his own screenplay:
    When Eight Bells Toll
    Puppet On A Chain
    Breakheart Pass

    Then we have a group of adaptions that were pretty faithful but didn't quite have the same spark, these ones are still worth a watch:
    The Golden Rendesvouz
    The Satan Bug
    Fear Is The Key

    Then coming in bottom we have those that took too many liberties with the book, or departed from it completely:
    Ice Station Zebra
    Caravan To Vaccares
    Bear Island
    Force Ten From Navarone

    Those are all the ones I've seen. I haven't seen, so can't comment on:
    The Secret Ways (the book was called The Last Frontier)
    The Way To Dusty Death (made over 20yrs after the book, and a decade after MacLean's death)
    River Of Death (a dodgy book, I've heard that the film is even worse)
    Wilycub likes this.
  6. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    Couldn't have said it better myself! :biggrin It definitely seems like an overly convoluted plan to flush out the mole, especially since they had their suspicions about who the culprit was. There are definitely plenty of simpler ways that they could have employed to nab the mole, but then it would have made for a very boring film! ;)

    I'm sorry I missed "Guns of Navarone". I will check it out whenever I can. I actually have a VHS of it that my dad bought many years ago. :)
    LiamABC likes this.
  7. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    The Guns Of Navarone is the better of the two. Curiously enough, there's an episode of Spiral Zone that borrows rather heavily from it, one of the episodes I'm going to include in the highlights in ROCKS.
    Mark M likes this.
  8. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I am not a big fan of WW 2 movies but there are some really good ones. Sticking with the war theme perhaps next we could do The Eagle Has Landed.
  9. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Not a bad idea. I've seen it once, about 15yrs ago.

Share This Page