Where Eagles Dare has been given the status of one of the best war movies ever produced. I think that statement is going a little too far, but I found the movie to be an effective war film and one of the better ones from an era in which seemingly hundreds of movies focused on World War II were released. Despite the acclaim it has received, it has received notice for historical inaccuracy. Personally I don’t mind because the value of a movie is entertainment, not truth. On top of that, this story which was written by Alistair Maclean as a pet project for Richard Burton so it’s a work of fiction, so history accuracy should not matter here. The movie is rather lengthy as it clocks in a tad over two-and-a-half hours, but I felt the time flew by quickly. There are plenty of action sequences and most of them are convincing and entertaining. Who wouldn’t want to see Allied personnel lay waste to a bunch of Nazi scum? Despite this being a piece of fiction, I was washed over by a feeling of pleasure watching these Allied troops infiltrate a Nazi stronghold.
During the war, a British aircraft was shot down over Nazi territory leaving only one survivor, an American general. The Allies are fearful because he knows all about the D-Day invasion, which holds the key to their success in achieving victory. They decide its best that he not divulge any information to the Nazis, so they plan a rescue mission. The team is led by Major John Smith (Richard Burton)-I know, such an original name right?, and his second-in-command, Lieutenant Schaffer (Clint Eastwood) who happens to be the only American in the rescue group. After the parachute drop goes wrong, it becomes clear to Schaffer that the mission is more important and more secretive than originally thought.
The performances seem to be low-key despite the starpower in the main roles. You know, the one and only Richard Burton and the main famous for his manly scowl, Clint Eastwood. They all did well in their roles, even if their roles are not the best they have ever done. Burton does well in anything he does so it’s no surprise he does so here. I like Clint Eastwood, and he puts his action chops to good use here. I read that he thought the screenplay was horrible and he wished to be given less speaking lines. So director Brian G. Hutton gave more of his lines to Burton and allowed Eastwood to focus more on the action. In the end, I think that worked out well.
Where Eagles Dare is a very fun, entertaining movie. The movie has lots of muscle to it, but it surprisingly has a good amount of brains to it. That scene in the headquarters meeting room with Burton revealing some traitors, that was an incredible scene. Burton’s character was messing around with the heads of everyone in the room, friend or foe. The action is consistent and they do a solid job. From the beginning with that parachute drop to the infiltration of the Nazi headquarters, to the grand escape with a bunch of Nazis on their heels-it was all good fun watching Smith and crew act smarter than the Nazi’s. The movie itself is nothing special, but it’s fun, entertaining, and a war thriller that doesn’t take itself seriously. Not everything about the film plays off as rational, but does it really have to be?
My Grade: A-