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  1. #81
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Geoff Dyer on Where Eagles Dare





    * Geoff Dyer

    * The Observer, Sunday 6 December 2009





    I keep waiting for the day when Where Eagles Dare begins to pall. I mean, how many films can stand up to multiple viewings over such a vast span of time (about 40 years)? In fact, the opposite seems to be happening � it gets better, yields deeper layers of meaning, every time I see it.





    Adapted from the novel by EM Forster� no, hang on, that's Where Angels Fear to Tread, but there's a point to be made here. Where Eagles Dare is a great title, anticipating the widespread popularity of the SAS motto "Who Dares Wins", even though it was made years before the storming of the Iranian embassy in 1980, of which the film could be seen either as a prophetic allegory or a direct inspiration. And the title is not just a sonorous bit of rhetoric plucked from Shakespeare. No, the castle scaled by Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood et al is called the Schloss Adler, the Castle of the Eagles. So the title is literally true, thereby cleverly inverting or � as is said in the world of agents and double agents � "turning" the intended sense of the lines in Richard III: "The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch." How cool is that!



    I last watched Eagles the day after seeing Disgrace, the latter serving as a textbook demonstration of everything that is wrong with a certain kind of dutiful film-making. What a plod! JM Coetzee's great novel is ploddingly translated into a script that is in turn ploddingly transferred to celluloid. It's not a movie at all, it's a ploddie, whereas Eagles is a piece of perfect cinema, in that the script dissolves into the film. (Alistair MacLean wrote the script and then turned it into a novel.)



    But what a script it must have been! What a plot! How do people dream up twists and turns like that? The key turnaround comes in the castle's Great Hall and involves Burton crossing, double- and triple-bamboozling everyone in sight. In the script the dialogue was divvied up more evenly between Eastwood and Burton, but it ended up with Eastwood doing more of the shooting and Burton more of the talking. Good call. Burton admired Clint's "dynamic lethargy", but in this scene calls him a "punk � and a pretty second-rate punk at that". It's a devastating bit of verbal jujitsu since, effectively, Burton takes Eastwood's signature line � "Ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" � and turns it back on him, before Clint's even landed the part of Dirty Harry.



    As for Burton, was he ever better than in Eagles? It's a masterly display of how to boss people around. Do this, do that! Everyone else � Mary Ure, the German agents, even Eastwood � they're all just Burton's bitches. Like all bossy people, Burton ultimately resorts to "I'd better do it myself" mode. So when the German agents kick Eastwood unconscious and escape by cable car, it's the ageing, alcoholic Welshman who jumps on the roof and settles their hash � big time! One gets an ice-axe in the arm, the other falls into the valley after clinging so desperately to one of Burton's legs that it must have ended up a foot longer. Naturally, it's Burton who drives the bus at the end � and even then he's still barking out orders: "Take out the control tower!"



    Clint and Mary duly obey. That's another forward-looking aspect of Eagles: from King Kong onwards the role of women was often just to swoon, scream, look threatened and, ideally, get their kit off; here Mary Ure blasts away with a machine gun like she's the Baader Meinhof Gang's Gudrun Ensslin. In fact, now I think about it, I see that the film is a premonitory account of the impending guerrilla war on the impregnable fortress of the German state apparatus with its concealed roots � all those twisting tunnels and corridors � in the Nazi past.



    In keeping with this, although the concealed intention of the mission is to weed out top-ranking double agents, its most immediate consequence is gratuitous murder and mayhem on a huge scale. They trash the schloss, wreck the surrounding infrastructure (the cable car is a write-off) and, by the end, are so addicted to the thrill of vandalism that, instead of driving politely through the entrance to the airfield, Baader � I mean Burton � smashes through the perimeter fence (I love the way it gets dragged along after the bus) before achieving the ultimate goal of any self-respecting 1970s terrorists: destroying some stationary planes.



    And here we get to the most intriguing paradox of the film. If Milton was of the devil's party without knowing it, then the writers, cast and crew of Eagles were secretly on the side of the Germans, whom they ostensibly outwit, terrorise and slay in large numbers. Everything in the film is German. It's practically an advert for the superiority of German manufacturing. They fly in and out on a Junkers Ju 52. They rely exclusively on German weaponry (predominantly the MP40 Schmeisser submachine pistol). We do not see a British gun until they're on the way home and Patrick Wymark pulls a Sten on Burton. And guess what: the firing pin's been removed � it doesn't frigging work. Finally, and most stylishly, the stars all wear German uniforms. How come Hugo Boss has not reissued those super-cool � ie cosy � retro winter anoraks? Vorsprung durch Technik!

  2. #82
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    Geoff Dyer on Where Eagles Dare

    * Geoff Dyer

    * The Observer, Sunday 6 December 2009

    "I keep waiting for the day when Where Eagles Dare begins to pall. I mean, how many films can stand up to multiple viewings over such a vast span of time (about 40 years)? In fact, the opposite seems to be happening – it gets better, yields deeper layers of meaning, every time I see it."
    A great review from Geoff Dyer here - but in terms of why it never pales, but instead improves, I believe it is because a film like this is a warm comfort blanket - especially for people of my generation who saw it originally in the flicks . . .



    Its also reassuringly enjoyable and escapist, with great visuals and even better music. And nowadays with a blu-ray player enhancing the picture of even a standard DVD on a good HD screen, its like watching it for the first time - again.



    So speaketh a devoted fan of WED

  3. #83
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    I can join the club of WED fans, it gets a viewing at least twice a year and I never ever tire of it. To me it is Airfix kits, Commando comics, Dinky toys, and playing "war" in the back garden, distilled and brewed into an almost faultless piece of escapism. Given that I make my living as a WWII tour guide I should reel at the postwar helicopter, the never emptying MP40 magazines and absurd plot twists, but I don't. It's like licking the icing from the mixing-bowl, staying out later than you promised your parents, it's a 100% guilty pleasure. It's not Citizen Kane, makes no statements about the tragedy of war and is what it is, and is all the better for it.



    Broad Sword calling Danny Boy, Broad Sword calling Danny Boy.........do you read me?.....over

  4. #84
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    I can join the club of WED fans, it gets a viewing at least twice a year and I never ever tire of it. To me it is Airfix kits, Commando comics, Dinky toys, and playing "war" in the back garden, distilled and brewed into an almost faultless piece of escapism. Given that I make my living as a WWII tour guide I should reel at the postwar helicopter, the never emptying MP40 magazines and absurd plot twists, but I don't. It's like licking the icing from the mixing-bowl, staying out later than you promised your parents, it's a 100% guilty pleasure. It's not Citizen Kane, makes no statements about the tragedy of war and is what it is, and is all the better for it.



    Broad Sword calling Danny Boy, Broad Sword calling Danny Boy.........do you read me?.....over
    Brilliant! That just sums Where Eagles Dare up perfectly.

    Whenever I watch it I'm 12 years old again

  5. #85
    Super Moderator Country: UK christoph404's Avatar
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    I can join the club of WED fans, it gets a viewing at least twice a year and I never ever tire of it. To me it is Airfix kits, Commando comics, Dinky toys, and playing "war" in the back garden, distilled and brewed into an almost faultless piece of escapism. Given that I make my living as a WWII tour guide I should reel at the postwar helicopter, the never emptying MP40 magazines and absurd plot twists, but I don't. It's like licking the icing from the mixing-bowl, staying out later than you promised your parents, it's a 100% guilty pleasure. It's not Citizen Kane, makes no statements about the tragedy of war and is what it is, and is all the better for it.



    Broad Sword calling Danny Boy, Broad Sword calling Danny Boy.........do you read me?.....over
    very nice summing up, I'll second those sentiments.



    oh..and its released on Blu Ray this summer (June 2010) I've pre-ordered mine on Amazon!

  6. #86
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    There was a segment on The Film Programme last Friday on Radio 4 examining Ron Goodwin's themes to this and 633 Squadron. Might still be on iplayer if you're quick - it was a very interesting piece.

  7. #87
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    I can remember many a time I recreated the battles in the castle with my Air Fix German paratroopers and nominated Clint and Burton figurines

  8. #88
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    Thanks to all the posters on this thread for a very entertaining look at a very entertaining film.

    Not sure how many of you will have been reading Empire film magazine in the last couple of years, but they've been running a "Done in 60 Seconds" competition, where readers remake a spoof version of films in one minute. This year, my friends and I decided to remake Where Eagles Dare in one minute (as it was snowing!), and I'm delighted to say that we've been chosen as one of the finalists in the competition.

    I hope it's an affectionate spoof on the film, with most of the key elements (parachutes, cable car, impenetrable plot exposition, Ingrid Pitt's chest) present and correct.

    You can see our film here Jameson Empire Awards 2010 | Empire | www.empireonline.com. I hope you enjoy it, and if you like it, please vote for us!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMxxhE1gQ6M


    Take care,



    "Schnorbitz".



    EDIT: Ah, i didn't realise it would embed from Youtube. Hope that's OK.



    Another online friend brought up a great memory about this film.



    Where Eagles Dare has special memories for me as we watched it at the cinema during the Seventies in three day week (Ewell Odeon, I believe) and an already dark film was virtually invisible as the power was low (tell the youngsters today about brown outs and power cuts and they think you come from the Dark Ages... ). We had to strain our eyes to distinguish Clint from Burton.

  9. #89
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    Thanks, a very entertaining 60 seconds!

  10. #90
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Where Eagles Dare was such a fantastically entertaining film that I was prepared to overlook the obvious gaff in it of the Germans flying a helicoptor in the early 1940's. Apart from that, the film was perfect...Burton and Eastwood's best in my opinion.

  11. #91
    Senior Member Country: England markrgv's Avatar
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    I love Where Eagles Dare. I've seen it more in the last 15 years than any other film. Fantastic entertainment. Nothing better to watch on a winter's day.

  12. #92
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    The perfect night in for me - a beer, a curry and Where Eagles Dare.

  13. #93
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    The perfect night in for me - a beer, a curry and Where Eagles Dare.
    And a good book at bedtime!

  14. #94
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    Saw it in the cinema when it came out - the most adrenaline-charged movie it was possible for a small boy and his pals to see!

    I have it on DVD and me and my son try to recite the script before the actors do - but we still love it - especially the music and the camouflaged Junkers 52.

    Back to being that kid, that German actress - Ingrid something - she began the stirrings of other, eh . . . anxieties, shall we say . . .the first time I saw her in that film, with her low cut top, and her skirty-thing and, well . . . I think I should stop now.

    But seriously, the only other movie I ever saw her in was as a terrorist up against Lewis Collins in Who Dares Wins - was she ever in anything else?



    My word, Missus!

  15. #95
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    I interviewed Derren Nesbitt on stage at last years' Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films (He played the blond SS officer). Over a few drinks on the evening before, he told me something I'd never heard before - that Clint Eastwood hadn't been the actual first choice for Richard Burton's sidekick.



    It had been Rod Taylor.



    Stephen Laws

    The Midnight Man: The Official Website of the author Stephen Laws

  16. #96
    Senior Member Country: England markrgv's Avatar
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    I interviewed Derren Nesbitt on stage at last years' Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films (He played the blond SS officer). Over a few drinks on the evening before, he told me something I'd never heard before - that Clint Eastwood hadn't been the actual first choice for Richard Burton's sidekick.

    It had been Rod Taylor.

    Stephen Laws

    The Midnight Man: The Official Website of the author Stephen Laws
    Never heard that before... but hard to imagine anyone but Clint in the role.



    I guess like most films there are often actors considered for parts by the studios before one is signed up.

  17. #97
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    I would love to meet Darren Nesbitt - what was he like?



    'But I recall the cafe was on the other side of the square, of course its been a long time, I maybe mistaken....'

  18. #98
    Super Moderator Country: UK christoph404's Avatar
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    I would love to meet Darren Nesbitt - what was he like?

    'But I recall the cafe was on the other side of the square, of course its been a long time, I maybe mistaken....'
    Von Hapen; " Its funny, I seem to remember the Cathedral was on the other side of the square....."

    Its claimed on some WED sites that there is no Cathedral in Dusseldorf which is on a square, anyone that has been to Dusseldorf could shed light on that!! ( 85% of Dusseldorf was destroyed during the war by allied bombs so could be tricky to prove!)

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    My word, Missus!
    Thanks for this, Rick C, great find!



    But I can feel those old "anxieties" coming back again now though . . .







    On the DVD I have of WED, the extras have a short documentary with her about the making of the movie, and I believe this is a still from that documentary.



    Anyway, time for a big sigh from me . . . .

  20. #100
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    heres the rare quad for the film. this poster was rplaced early on with the other style we all know. Just got this after twn years of searching. Cost me a small fortune too

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