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In 1942, in Warsaw, a Polish prostitute is murdered in a sadistic way. Major
Grau (Omar Sharif), a man from German Intelligence that believes in justice,
is in charge of the investigation. An eyewitness saw a German general
leaving the building after a scream of the victim. A further investigation
shows that three generals do not have any alibi for that night: General Tanz
(Peter O'Toole), Maj. Gen. Klus Kahlenberge (Donald Pleasance) and General
von Seidlitz-Gabler (Charles Gray). They three avoid a direct contact with
Major Grau and become potential suspects. As far as Major Grau gets close to
them, he is promoted and sent to Paris.
In 1944, in Paris, this quartet is reunited and Major Grau continues his investigation. Meanwhile, a plan for killing Hitler is plotted by his high command; a romance between Ulrike von Seydlitz-Gabler (Joanna Pettet) and Lance Cpl. Kurt Hartmann (Tom Courtenay) is happening and Insp. Morand (Phillipe Noiret) is helping Major Grau in his investigation.
The story ends in 1965, in Hamburg, with another similar crime.
The first time I watched this film, I was a teenager and I recall that I left the movie theater very impressed. Two days ago, a friend of mine saw this movie again and sent me an e-mail. I decided to watch it again, on VHS, since it has not been released on DVD in Brazil. This movie is really an excellent and very underrated European super production, having a spectacular international cast. Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif, from `Lawrence of Arabia', have another outstanding performance working together, highlighting the role of Peter O'Toole as a deranged man. It is amazing how Omar Sharif was a great actor in the 1960's. The story has war, mystery, crime, romance, drama and thriller, in right doses. Further, the character of Omar Sharif, as an ethic man who believes and pursues justice, no matter the price, is exciting. The reconstitution of the period is also fantastic, specially the scene of the madness of General Tanz in a block of Warsaw, when he burns and destroys many buildings. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): `A Noite Dos Generais' (`The Night of the Generals')
An overlooked little gem that gets better with each viewing. Murder mystery set in the German Army during World War II, involving 3 generals who are suspects. Entire cast in good form; fine ensemble acting. Peter O'Toole in top form as a fanatical SS general suspected in the murders. Donald Pleasence and Charles Gray portray the other 2 generals with secrets to hide. Omar Sharif does an excellent job as the Army colonel investigating. Film set in both 1942 occupied Poland, and 1944 occupied Paris. Also neatly ties in the July, 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler, with a cameo appearance by Christopher Plummer as Field Marshal Rommel. Recreates the actual bombing of Hitler's headquarters, and the efforts by the Paris generals to unseat the SS and Gestapo. Highly recommended viewing.
"What is admirable on the large scale is monstrous on the
It's Agatha Christie meets "The Battle of the Bulge" meets... oh you get the picture. Great cast lead by the always fabulous Peter O'Toole who delivers a memorable performance as General Tanz. Also nice to see French veteran actor Philippe Noiret in an ensemble that includes Omar Sharif, Tom Courtenay, Donald Pleasence and Christopher Plummer.
It is tense all the way mostly thanks to the great use of first Warsaw (and the atrocities performed there) as a backdrop for the story and then we move to Paris where the plot to kill Hitler is nicely interwoven.
"The Night of the Generals" is at parts predictable, yes, (with the great exception of Omar Sharif's final scene) but I guess that's also what makes it kinda' enjoyable at times - at least in the very last scene - when you know what's coming (and boy does it feel good).
Some may find it a bit tedious and yes it is long, but when it was over I knew I would definitely see it again sometime in the future so in short: it works! If you think this movie is your cup of tea, based on the IMDb-information, you're probably right.
"Night of the generals" is big Anglo-French production of 1966, which
talks about dramatic facts in a dramatic period (World War II). Two
prostitutes are assassinated (in Poland and in France respectively) by
a mysterious killer. A colonel of the German army (Omar Sharif)
investigates and suspects three generals -two of them (Charles Gray and
Donald Pleasence) are involved in a plot to kill Hitler, the other one
(Peter O'Toole) is the most crazy and dangerous-. Twenty years later
the same French inspector (Philippe Noiret) who helped Sharif in the
inquiry faces another case of a murdered prostitute, the crime is
executed in the same way as the previous ones...
This film is excellent. With a supercast (O'Toole, Sharif, Pleasence, Gray, Courtenay, Noiret) director Anatole Litvak directs a classic, a masterpiece. This film, maybe, is not as famous and as remembered as it should be... It deserves to be rediscovered, thanks to the recent DVD release.
Well, if nothing else, we can agree that they don't make 'em like this
any more. A cast of super-prestigious actors, including a reunion of
Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif from Lawrence of Arabia, is employed in a
huge, unwieldy Euro-pudding of a production about Nazis, murderers and
a Nazi murderer.
This isn't an easy movie to summarize, since there are at least three major plot-lines going on at the same time. In one, someone is killing prostitutes in occupied Warsaw and Paris, and Omar thinks the murderer is one of three leading Wehrmacht generals. In the second plot, various high-ranking officers are conspiring to overthrow Hitler and bring the war to an end. And in a third plot, Tom Courtenay's corporal is getting very close to the daughter of Charles Gray's untrustworthy General Gabler.
All three plots intersect, sort of, but I can't help wishing that someone had made up their mind just what sort of movie they wanted to make and stuck with it, rather than trying to make three at once. Courtenay's romantic sub-plot is entirely redundant, and should have been cut out completely, thus shortening the movie to a manageable two hours or so. And was there really any need for Christopher Plummer to saunter on in a minuscule cameo as Rommel? His appearance adds nothing to the story, and the only reason for him being here at all was presumably in order to employ every great British actor alive at the time. I'm only surprised that Laurence Olivier didn't turn up as Goebbels, or Himmler or someone.
And yet, despite the bloat, despite the stunt casting, despite the fact that Philippe Noiret is more wooden than the Black Forest, it works. I watched it for two and a half hours without getting bored, and I loved a lot of things about it - the characters interact beautifully, the tension in the conspiracy sequences builds up to near-unbearable levels, and the look of the thing is sumptuous in the extreme. You really feel you're there with these people, and you can't help but care about them and how the story comes out. In the end, that's what movies are supposed to do, isn't it? Night of the Generals is a long way from perfect, but it just about forced me to like it.
Warsaw, December 1942. When a prostitute is savagely murdered, German
Intelligence Officer Major Grau is called to investigate. An eyewitness
who caught a glimpse of the perpetrator through a crack in a door,
reveals that the killer wore grey trousers with a red stripe down the
side - the uniform of a Wehrmact General. Grau quickly narrows the
suspects down to three men whose whereabouts on the night in question
cannot be accounted for.
Having been aware of this film for many years, I finally managed to catch a rare screening of it last night on British TV. Part of my curiosity to see it was due to the sheer weight of the cast:- Omar Sharif as Major Grau, Peter O'Toole, Donald Pleasence and Charles Gray as the Generals, plus Christopher Plummer, Tom Courtenay, Philip Noiret, Gordon Jackson, John Gregson, Harry Andrews, Nigel Stock and Patrick Allen - phew! The film itself starts quite promisingly as a murder mystery and maintains the interest while based in Warsaw. It features an impressive sequence involving the flushing out of Polish Resistance fighters in the city. An interesting side-note at this point is that the armour used here appeared to be either real Tiger tanks, or pretty good replicas. This attention to detail was quite unusual for a film made in 1966. Usually, contemporary armour was used in war films of this vintage - I'm thinking particularly of 'Battle Of The Bulge', 'The Bridge At Remagen' and even 'Patton'.
However, once the scene shifts to Paris in the summer of 1944, the film starts to lose focus, meandering off on sub-plots about the Hitler assassination conspiracy and Tom Courtenay's character's love life. For long stretches Omar Sharif disappears altogether and the momentum is lost. Another distraction is the way the film jumps forward at intervals to the '60's, where we find Philip Noiret's Policeman interviewing some of the secondary characters in an attempt to solve the mystery. But by this point the killer's identity has become all too clear.
The film is by no means a total waste. It is in part an interesting study of German senior officers. The acting is good throughout, and to see stalwarts of British war films like Harry Andrews and John Gregson playing Germans is both curious and original. The script is literate, production design handsome, and the 1.78:1 presentation on ITV3 gave a tantalising glimpse of how good Henri Decae's photography would look in it's full 2.35:1 Panavision frame. But overall I was left feeling that with tighter handling regarding the killer's identity, and more emphasis on the central plot, the film could have been a far more satisfying whole.
Wartime Europe - Warsaw 1942: A Polish man visiting the communal toilet
in his tenement block hears the screams of a local prostitute being
killed in the flat above. A few minutes later he hears footsteps coming
down the stairs and he peers through the crack in the lavatory door and
is shocked to see the uniform of a German general coming down the
stairs. He reports the murder to the authorities and the investigating
officer Major Grau believes him and establishes that only 3 of the
German generals in Warsaw were without alibi on that night - Generals
Tanz, Kahlenberge and Gabler. He begins his investigation but just as
he is getting close to the truth, he is transferred to Paris by higher
authority. Two years later in July 1944, another prostitute is murdered
and Major Grau establishes that once again all 3 generals - Tanz,
Kahlenberge and Gabler are all in Paris on the night of the murder. The
hunt for the killer is on.....
An excellent murder mystery full of intrigue and suspense set against the background of wartime Europe, The Night Of The Generals is one of few movies incorporating historical fact with fiction and succeeding admirably. As well as the fictional murder storyline, readers will be treated to the cleansing of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto (1942) and the infamous July bomb plot to kill Hitler (1944) which are both incorporated into the story. Anyone who likes war or murder mystery movies will not be disappointed by The Night Of The Generals.
I agree with the above general sentiment that the story strays a bit
too much at times, especially with the rather useless bombing of Hitler
as a detour. I do however understand why it's there - it's because by
attaching the "good" German generals to the plot of killing Hitler,
they let the audience not feel bad for rooting for them. Simple trick,
but all in all detrimental to the momentum of the story.
The film is brimming with exceptional acting - O'Toole turns in a particularly vicious and strong performance as General Tanz, but everyone holds their own. It's rare to find a villain so distasteful and yet so intriguing - most filmmakers just content themselves with giving the villain an evil shtick without much character development - not so here.
I saw a newly mastered DVD in full 2.35:1 widescreen presentation and the the cinematography by the late Henri Decae is wonderful in all its glory.
Very interesting movie, please see it.
I remember seeing this film in the theater when I was a kid and being fascinated by it. When I finally located a copy on VHS, I was able to enjoy it once again. Do not over analyze it. Just enjoy Peter O'Toole as the nutcase Tanz, Donald Pleasance as the General-with-a-conscience, and especially Omar Sharif as the dogged, honorable military investigator. Charles Gray as General Gabler (and Coral Browne as his wife) are perfect as oldschool Wehrmacht junkers. ("We are well suited, aren't we?") Yet another film that needs to be released on DVD.
Omar Sharif is excellent in this film. The fact is that the film needs
to be restored to its widescreen version and released on DVD.
The acting is fantastic throughout and the locations are perfect.
The point I wanted also to make is that, unlike your "factual errors" there were in fact several Regular German Army units and soldiers who were later brought into the Waffen SS. Several of the foreign volunteer units were brought into the SS as well.
There were foreign volunteer units that were in the Leningrad area in 1941-42 and later became Waffen SS in whole or in part.
The movie does a great job of making almost perfect copies of German material and when it gets to France even has a shot of tanks made up to look very much like Panthers, in addition to the many kubelwagons and schwimwaggons.
Grau is one of the best characters in cinema and he should have had more screen time. A great film! A great indictment of the Nazis.
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