|Index||9 reviews in total|
When Dr Nils Ahlen develops a device that can capture and utilise the
energy of sound he naturally becomes the target of the government, be
it in the energy field or weapons development. Having convinced his
employers of his discovery, Ahlen returns to his home to get his full
files only to find that his wife and his partner have gone missing
along with information vital to the development of the technology. With
the help of the local police (Inspector Peterson), Ahlen sets out after
the two to prevent them getting the information into the hands of the
In the opening ten minutes of this film things look good the tone is dark, the wartime plot looks like it will produce a slick and exciting conspiracy/chase thriller and I must admit I settled down for a good "romp". However, not long into the chase the film decides to dump all this silly stuff and becomes some sort of wilderness adventure instead. At this point I tried to stay with the film but it became too stodgy and uninteresting for its own good and the melodrama of the whole affair failed to engage me. The script is pretty talky and, without character development, it didn't keep me with it; instead it throws in wolves and vultures and elements of "savage" life but not in such a way that is fun or entertaining in any sense of the word.
The cast can't do much with it and they come off pretty clunky and wooden. McCallum and Warner have the hardest jobs as they try to lead the film but, from their performances I can only assume that they were as unconvinced and as bored by the whole thing as I was. Dawson and Wood have potentially interesting characters and Wood does have some good scenes but the film doesn't help her by developing those around her to support her emotions within her marriage. The direction is OK but the stock footage is far too obvious and obtrusive.
Overall this starts out well but then becomes a plodding adventure story in the snowy wilderness; near the end it tries to look at the emotions of Ahlen's marriage briefly but it doesn't spend the time on it that that thread deserved. The end result showed potential but the majority of it is boring and flat and produced a film that is watchable at points but mostly not really worth a look.
The storyline is typical of post second world war drama, with an
inventor's electrical creation being stolen by his wife. Jack Warner
gives the film strength with a solid performance as a police Inspector,
and John McCallum gives a good account of himself as the inventor.
This film scores heavily with magnificent snow scenes, the mass of reindeer, being chased by wolves, and the eagles then combating with wolves. The avalanche brings you the power of nature.
At first, I could not place Nadia Gray, but then I remembered her from earlier films.
The storyline appears to drift between a Cold war story, a detective investigation, and a broken marriage.
It could have been better, but Valley of Eagles was a good effort.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My friend Dave Sindelar, who has viewed and reviewed something like
2,300 fantasy and science fiction films by this point, calls this kind
of movie a "Gizmo McGuffin". That is, the plot device is an invention
that sets the events in motion, and then is hardly ever seen again,
except as an excuse to move onto the next bit.
The "gizmo", in this case, is a "barium record" which can convert converted/recorded sounds into electricity, but once the device is introduced and demonstrated, it is stolen by the wife (and assistant) of the scientist who invented it, and the rest of the movie is essentially a chase to get it back.
"Valley of the Eagles" has a very odd feel to it. Filmed in black and white and set in Sweden (or Norway - the opening exposition seems to conflict a little with the geography - call it "Scandanavia" for the sake of discussion), the movie starts out as a noir crime story featuring a science fiction element and the most stoic, wooden acting from the principals you could possibly imagine. The scientist (played by John McCallum) never exhibits any emotion stronger than mild irritation in the first 15 minutes, and the police detective in charge of the investigation barely registers more than bemusement.
Then the screenplay takes a unexpected turn as the fleeing thieves take to a cross country flight for the USSR border, and the "heroes" join a band of Lapplanders who guide them across the Northern wildernesss. And the next hour is essentially a "safari" film, with Lapplanders and elk (or reindeer?) standing in for the native tribes and elephants, wolves standing in for crocodiles and lions, and the Arctic circle standing in for Africa. The scientist and the policeman remain stoic, unruffled and unemotional in the face of difficulty and disaster, although it seems to me that McCallum allows himself to play a little looser near the end of the trip when he finally confronts his wife and admits that he seems to have forgotten why he was so worked up about the theft of the device in the first place. (The screenplay implies that the journey has changed him, but the change is mostly in the dialog, not McCallum's delivery.)
All of us who were watching this for the first time agreed that all the ingredients were there to make this movie suck, and we really should have hated it. Instead, we found it, well, mildly enjoyable. The scenery was spectacular and it was obvious that the director and cinematographer knew how to shoot and compose a scene (even with the blurry print, "broadcast quality" taped copy we had). Even though the lead actors were not especially demonstrative, this actually served to make the heroes seem unflappabl, uncomplaining and admirable. There were actually some witty lines; two of the supporting character actors steal most of the scenes they appear in. There's a bit of pathos, and an even handed treatment of the price the nomads paid for the way they choose to live. And whoever wrangled and trained the animals must have been a genius; the "payoff scene" where the attacking wolf pack is driven off by trained eagles (!) is unlike any animal stunt scene I've ever watched.
There are problems, of course, and they keep me from rating it higher than a "6". The first 15 minutes are deadly slow and dull - even a small walk-on part by Christopher Lee can't punch up the interest factor. The screenplay makes the odd choice to cut back and forth between the pursuers and the pursued for the first part of the chase, and then remains with the chasers for nearly 50 minutes, as if it had lost interest in the wife and the assistant scientist once they got the actual chase started. And the ending made no sense; in spite of the fact that McCallum's confrontation with his wife in the valley of Eagles ends amiably enough, (and he gets his device back), the next morning she is "fleeing" once again with guides from the village across the mountain face of the potential avalanche. Why is she running? And what native guide would be stupid enough to endanger his life by trekking across the snow-face that has threatened his village with extinction for decades (if not centuries)? Just way too irritating and contrived for me to swallow; I wouldn't buy it in a "Tarzan" movie and I can't buy it here.
But still, it's worth seeing once if some classic movies channel decides to revive it. The director went on to make "Dr. No", and "From Russia With Love", two of the all time classic James Bond films, and in spite of the problems and odd choices, it's nice to see talent shining through archaic plotting and old school film devices.
Valley of Eagles recently came on BBC2 one afternoon so I set the video
and was certainly pleased I did.
A scientist who has invented a machine that can convert sound waves into electrical energy has this stolen by his wife and assistant and this results in a chase across the frozen wastes of Lapland. The scientist teams up with a copper and they join a party who is transporting reindeer the same route. They face many dangers on the way: blizzards, a pack of hungry wolves and avalanches. A lot of the wolves are killed by some eagles that Laplanders use for killing instead of guns to reduce the risk of an avalanche which would result in their village being destroyed. The scientist catches up with his wife and assistant and escape and once the assistant stars shooting a gun, this results in an avalanche and both are killed but the village is safe. The scientist also finds a new love at the end.
Valley of Eagles contains some fantastic scenery in Lapland and has a good score too. Animal lovers probably won't enjoy this though. The snow scenes remind me of the Wilderness Family movies.
The cast includes Jack Warner (Dixon of Dock Green, The Quatermass Xperiment), John McCallum, Anthony Dawson and Nadia Gray. Horror legend Christopher Lee (Dracula) has a small part as a copper.
Valley of Eagles is certainly worth seeing, just for that scenery. Excellent.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
VALLEY OF EAGLES starts off as a typical and oh-so-British spy
thriller, with a scientist inventing a new type of machine that will
serve mankind. Before long his secrets are stolen after he's betrayed
by his own wife and assistant, so he must give chase. Where the film
differs from the ordinary thriller template is that the action shifts
to the snowbound locales of Sweden and an outdoor adventure follows.
Be warned: if you're an animal lover, you'll probably hate this film. Adventures undertaken by the central characters include encounters with reindeer, wolves, and eagles, and plenty of the poor beasts are executed or killed by the time the credits roll. However, the stark black and white photography is a nice match for the icy backdrop, and the film looks great at least. There's even some not-bad avalanche footage achieved on what is obviously a low budget. Watch out for Christopher Lee's cameo as a detective.
I watch this by accident, wet Sunday waiting for a visitor. Yep plot
weird, wife and lover soon forgotten, reason for chase soon lost,
wooden performances...but...it was different.
The safari part watching the reindeer herding and their loss in the ravine, the the arrival of the hunting eagles it was interesting, no CGI, pre Gortex and some of the cast could actually ski.
The somewhat novel idea that people are not savages because they have different standards is interesting as is the acknowledgement of how near the brink people living traditional lives can be. The herd is lost so the herders must work for minimum wage in the logging camp to scrape together enough money to start another herd. The situation is the same now for many previously nomadic communities.
How many other films are set in Lapland and feature the Sami and their way of life?
Suspend your disbelief and watch it on a wet Sunday afternoon.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the one where the scientific formula/piece of new technology/vital ingredient that could win the war/prevent the war/save the planet perm any two from three is stolen in the first reel and paves the way for a 'quest' movie. In a half decent movie we actually care about more than the chase, in a movie like this we don't even care about the chase. The acting is as wooden as the Christmas trees the Norwegian government sends to London every year. Jack Warner once chased John McCallum all over the East End in It Always Rains On Sunday now they're comrades in arms chasing after McCallum's wife and assistant who are on their way to Russia with the end product of McCallum's research. Eventually they stumble onto a valley where the residents shun guns as hunting weapons lest they cause an avalanche; instead they breed eagles and train them to kill wolves. It's different, I'll grant you, but not enough to rescue this inept, ineffectual film that I doubt if anyone involved would wish to flaunt on their CVs.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This thriller starts conventionally enough as protagonist, Norwegian
scientist, Dr. Nils Ahlen leaves his wife Helga and assistant Sven
Nystrom to speak at a lecture. He is giving a talk about his new method
of storing electricity. When he gets back he finds the place has been
ransacked and Helga and Nystrom missing along with the key to his lab.
When he goes to the lab he finds key components of his invention are
missing; he can only assume that somebody has kidnapped them and forced
them to help get the valuable parts. He reports this to the police but
is initially unimpressed with Inspector Peterson's handling of the case
so sets out to find them on his own. He has one clue that leads him to
believe they have been taken into Lapland in an attempt to leave the
country. Travelling with the inspector they follow a lead but it
becomes difficult when they find the ferry is out of commission; it is
at this point that he learns there is no mysterious third party: Helga
and Nystrom stole the parts. The next day a blizzard covers the area in
snow; to follow they join a party of Lapp reindeer herders for a
perilous journey where the environment will provide the greatest danger
This is a very unconventional thriller; it started out typically but it wasn't long before the antagonists were all but forgotten as the protagonists, their Lapp guides and a female school inspector with two children to look after struggled in the frozen wilderness. In many ways it felt more like a western than a thriller as animals provided the only viable transport and they had no modern conveniences to help them. The camera-work in these scenes brilliantly captured the frigid beauty of the place as well as its dangers; the scene where much of the herd stampedes into a snow-filled ravine in particular captured the danger of the area. The eagles that give the film its title were equally impressive as they swoop from their owners' poles onto a pack of wolves. By the end when they finally catch up with Helga and Nystrom it is almost anticlimactic as they'd almost been forgotten about! The cast did a decent job; it may seem a little wooden to modern eyes but was the expected delivery for the time. While this is by no means a classic it is different enough to make it worth watching if it is on television.
A below par British action thriller. I use both words in their broadest
terms as what is supposed to be a chase across the Finish mountains
turns into a nature film on the lives of the Laplanders for a large
length of the film.
The lead characters deliver their lines so woodenly that if you closed your eyes they could be reading out loud from a drawing room in Hampstead Heath, so any attempt at pace is lost, not that there was much of an attempt in the first place.
If anything you have to sympathise with one of the villains, on the grounds that they want to 'get away from it all'.
Only worth while if it is on TV on a wet afternoon, when it is marginally better than watching rain hitting the window.
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|