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One of the most average Italian war movies to emerge in the genre. A
great cast and some decent photography highlight this otherwise
The plot is pretty straightforward and familiar: A British commando team heads into France to blow up a German-held dam, while a British agent infiltrates the German garrison to give inside help. The twist is the British officer is replacing his twin German brother (!)
Giacomo Rossi-Stuart (The Greatest Battle), one of my favorite Eurowar co-stars, makes a pretty bland lead. He doesn't get to do too much, unfortunately. He is reduced to uttering boring dialog and leaves most of the real acting up to Richard Harrison (Thirty Six Hours of Hell), who plays both a German officer and his British twin. Klaus Kinski (The Liberators) has his usual glorified cameo role as a German officer, though his role lacks any of the weirdness which usually accompanies his part. He is a straightforward, evil SS type and nothing more. Unfortunately, he sports a dubbed English accent rather than a typically nasty, thick German voice. Pilar Velasquez (His Name was Holy Ghost) is the French resistance woman in love with Harrison. Finally, Antonio Casas (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) has a glorified cameo as the genius leader of the French partisans. In support, Frank Brana (The War Devils) plays a French partisan, and Claudio Biava (Battle of the Damned) has a juicy role of a skeptical British commando. Look fast for Herb Andress (The Rangers) as a German officer, and Geoffredo Unger (Hornets' Nest) as a British commando.
The whole course of the film is weighed down by some low production values that can easily kill a film. First of all, Vassili Koducharov's familiar score from Heroes in Hell, Thirty Six Hours of Hell and The Rangers is used once again. This piece of music is trash, and I don't get why so many films use it. The special effects are pretty bad, and one dam destruction sequence ranks as one of the worst miniature effects in film history. The movie is set in France in 1944, but looks like it was shot in an Italian rock quarry - maybe on some of the same locations as the earlier action flick Five for Hell.
On the plus side, the cast all do excellently and seem to be having fun with their parts. The script is excellent, with an unexpected conclusion for one of the main characters. Maurizio Pradeaux keeps the action flowing whenever possible. When nobody is getting shot on screen, people are moving about and so is the camera. Close-ups, pans and zoom-ins rule for the duration of the movie. The final combat scene is excellently-shot and tightly edited, with some fine suspenseful moments.
CHURCHIL'S LEOPARDS is a pretty average commando movie, with a good cast and fine camera-work but little else of value. It's an entertaining 90 minute piece, but no classic.
A tough team carries out a relentless assignment plenty of thrilling
action , risked adventures and hazardous feats . Spaghetti/War film
about a misfit outfit led by Richard Harrison who carry out a suicide
mission behind enemy lines . The mission: search out and destroy a dam
in Normandy before the D-Day invasion . The movie is set during World
War II in the days just prior to the D-Day invasion. A special
parachute unit is sent to destroy a German dam installation . A group
of two-fisted soldiers formed by various experts are drafted to go on a
near-suicide mission and attempt to destroy it . The volunteer
commandos, misfits from the American army do not care how its done and
will run over anyone who gets in their way . ¨Commando attack¨ or
¨Curchill's leopards¨ is an entertaining film with Richard Harrison as
a stiff officer posing as a Nazi lieutenant , his true brother , as his
father is British and his mother is German . Richard Harrison leading a
group of motley and eclectic soldiers for a dangerous assault on
strongly armored Nazi position . In the hands of hardboiled director
Maurizio Pradeaux , and a tough-as-leather cast , that's all the plot
that's needed to make one rip-roaring wartime flick . Harrison's
mission is two-fold and in violent and cynical style ; first turn his
G.I.s into a valiant fighting unit , being parachuted Major Powell ,
Giacomo Rossi-Stuart , then turn loose on a French location in Normandy
where they run into partisans -such as Pilar Velazquez , Frank Braña
and Antonio Casas- , helps them penetrate behind enemy lines . The
first half of the film allows the colorful cast of character actors to
have their fun as they get their tails whipped into shape and develop
shaky relationship with their leader . The final part is all action ,
as the brave commando wreak havoc and then run for their lives . The
dangerous mission includes a selected group formed by a motley and
varied squadron played by usual of Italian B-series . This is a rugged
WWII actioner concerning about an experienced officer , he's assigned
by Military staff to lead a group of valiant G.I.s , as they pull off a
extremely risked assignment called ¨Operation Over Edge¨ . At the end
they must participate in the suicidal mission behind the enemy lines ,
to wipe the German group by means of a violent assault over a strongly
protected position and put an explosive rocket into dam .
Richard Harrison in a double role as Lt. Richard Benson / Lt. Hans Müller assumes the character of commando leader along with Giacomo Rossi-Stuart as Major Powell in this ordinary wartime movie regularly directed by Maurizio Pradeaux . This moving film packs frantic thrills , perilous adventures , relentless feats , and buck-loads of explosive action and violence . The noisy action is uniformly well-made , especially deserving of mention the rip-roaring final scenes on the dam , including some spectacular shootouts , firing and bombing . Apart from the values of team spirit , cudgeled by Harrison into his varied group , the film is full of feats , shots and thrills though contains excessive dialog and a lot of night scenes . The notorious Spaghetti actor , Richard Harrison is good in his usual tough role , here playing the unshakable Lt. Richard Benson . Giacomo Rossi-Stuart as rough Major is fine as officer of the motley pack together thwart the Nazi schemes, as well as the largely secondary cast full of familiar faces as Spanish actors such as Pilar Velazquez , Antonio Casas , Helga Line , Frank Braña as Italian players such as Máximo Righi , Goffredo Unger and many others ; all of them habitual secondary players in multiple Italian/Spanish films and mostly playing brief interventions . Atmospheric and functional musical score by Franco Salina and aceptable cinematography in Eastmancolor filmed by Miguel Fernández Mila on locations in La Pedriza , Manzanares del Real , Madrid ; being necessary an urgent remastering because the film copy is washed out . This is a wartime typical vehicle and into the ¨warlike commando genre¨ , in USA style which also belong the American classics as : ¨Dirty Dozen (Robert Aldrich) ¨ Where eagles dare¨ (Brian G. Hutton) , ¨Kelly's heroes (Hutton ) , ¨Tobruk¨ (Arthur Hiller) , ¨Devil's Brigade¨ (Andrew V McLagen) and many others .
The movie was produced in enough budget by Ricardo Sanz who financed various Paella Western such as "My Horse, My Gun, Your Widow" , ¨4 Implacables¨ , ¨Bala Marcada¨ and "I'll Kill Him and Return Alone" .The film was professionally directed by Maurizio Pradeaux and some moments he gets a competent Italian war actioner . ¨Commando attack¨ or ¨Churchill's leopards¨ belongs to Spaghetti War sub-genre , whose maxim representatives are the followings filmmakers : Umberto Lenzi with ¨Battle of commandos¨ ,¨Desert commandos¨ , ¨Battle force¨ , Leon Klimovsky with ¨June 44 , Normandy¨, "Hell's Brigade: The Final Assault", "The Legion of No Return" ¨ , Alfonso Brescia with ¨Objective : Rommel¨ , ¨Misiones Ardientes¨ , ¨Hell in Normandy¨ , Albert De Martino with ¨Dirty heroes¨, Jose Luis Merino with ¨Hell commandos¨ , Armando Crispino with ¨Commandos¨ and Robert Bianchi Montero with ¨36 hours of hell¨ . ¨Churchill's leopards¨ rating 5'5/10 : Average but entertaining .
A routine Italian low budget war action movie about English dam busters
working in occupied France. Best feature in the film is, obviously, the
great Klaus Kinski whose SS captain brings a sinister edge to the final
All in all an interesting film that suffers from the same problem than most of its peers: lack of ambition. The only scene that stands out is the execution of the resistance leader (by Kinski's SS men), which makes one wonder why the rest of the film wasn't made with similar effort.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
British commandos parachute into Nazi-occupied France before the June
6th Allied invasion scheduled for Normandy against Fortress Europe to
destroy a dam in Maurizio Pradeaux's above-average World War II secret
mission movie "Churchill's Leopards," toplining expatriate American
leading man Richard Harrison and German character actor Klaus Kinski.
Pradeaux's serious-minded, behind-enemy-lines thriller duplicates the
familiar line-up of events that inevitably culminate in the
pyrotechnics at the dam at the end of the film. The chief problem here
is the hackneyed gimmick of identical twin brothers on which the
plausibility of the mission rests and mediocre special effects when the
dam is blown to smithereens. "Churchill's Leopards" generates
sufficient suspense to keep you interested. The two chief flaws are its
paucity of surprises and its cookie-cutter characters bereft of any
Italian peplum/Spaghetti western actor Richard Harrison plays dual roles in this Macaroni war movie. He is cast capably enough as both British Army lieutenant Richard Benson and German Wehrmacht officer Hauptman Hans Muller. We are told that Benson and Muller were the sons of a British father and a German mother. The mother ardently supported the policies of Adolf Hitler before she died.
Pradeaux immerses audiences with black & white, documentary World War II footage to establish the proper mood. As the movie opens, a sexy female French Resistance agent stabs Muller to death while he is making love to her in bed. Interestingly, Pradeaux doesn't show the cold, hard steel of the knife plunging into the German's flesh. Moments later, Benson steps into his death brother's boots with a twinge of regret. Later, he is informed that nobody could have been done to prevent Muller's death. The masquerade proves to be no picnic for Benson. He has to contend with the likes of an evil, sagacious Nazi Gestapo officer Captain Holtz (Klaus Kinski of "For A Few Dollars More") who persistently checks up on Benson and chides him about his lust for women. The only thing that differentiates Benson and Muller is a large, ugly scar on his lower right-hand side of his back. This identifying mark plays an important role later in the film.
Meanwhile, in England, the British plan to blast the huge dam with a sophisticated underwater drill furnished to them by the Royal Navy. "Because of the narrowness of the gorge and the position of the dam, it is impregnable to air attack," an older, superior British officer explains to Major Powell (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart of "The Revenge of Spartacus") in the usual briefing before the big mission scene. At least, Pradeaux gets this obligatory scene out of the way early. "If we can break it, the water released will wash away all the roads and important bridges for miles and miles around." The colonel adds that the supply lines of two Panzer divisions will be destroyed. When Powell asked about high altitude bombing as an alternative, his commander points out that the Americans advanced that argument initially, but the experts felt that it wouldn't have been as effective as place a charge in the dam.
The first moment of genuine suspense occurs 28 minutes into the picture when the good guys are hidden in a wagon piled high with hay that the Nazis decide to give the pitchfork test. Appropriately enough, complications make things none-too-easy for Powell and his commandos. The aerial drop took a toll on their explosives equipment. As a result, Powell has to impersonate a priest to confer with Benson about obtaining replacement parts. This hasty arranged rendezvous gets Powell in trouble when a Nazi patrol demands to see his permit and they have to kill them. Holtz selects twenty villagers to execute unless the killer or killers come forward. Pradeaux drums up some suspense in this scene as well as in the final part of the movie as the commandos laboriously drill a hole large enough into the dam to seat a large, cylindrical explosives charge. The Germans storm the dam with Holtz leading the charge.
Klaus Kinski could sleep walk through this role, since he played a similar S.S. Officer in Gianfranco Parolini's "Five for Hell." Incidentally, Kinski served in the German Army in World War II and the British took him prisoner in the Netherlands. Harrison gives his standard but sympathetic tight-lipped performance as a British lieutenant. He has been dubbed as was the entire cast. Unfortunately, the usually reliable Giacomo Rossi-Stuart comes off looking curiously bland. The scenery is spectacular and the dam looks impressive until the pyro-technicians provide a sloppy substitute for it when it explodes.
Wild East Productions has done a superlative job of transferring "I Leopardi di Churchill" to DVD; it's an immaculate widescreen print in 1.85.1 with crisp, clear colors. This formulaic, war-as-a-thrilling-adventure action yarn with the British whipping the Nazis once again, is paired on the Wild East DVD with the Klaus Kinski & George Hilton World War II movie "Salt in the Wound," a.k.a. "The Liberators." Yes, "Salt in the Wound" is more substantial than the superficial but competently staged "I Leopardi di Churchill."
This is a decent example of the Italian brand of war movies which, although they never quite reached the artistic heights or levels of influence which their peplums, giallos or Spaghetti Westerns had, frequently offer an offbeat, mildly diverting perspective on familiar historical events. This one here stars Richard Harrison (as an English agent posing as his dead German officer twin brother!) and Klaus Kinski as a sadistic SS official; the fetching female parts (on both sides of the fence, naturally) are personified by Pilar Velazquez and Helga Line', while Giacomo Rossi Stuart and Antonio Casas have key roles to play within the Resistance lines. There are no overwhelmingly spectacular action set-pieces or jaw-droppingly clever plot twists to speak of, but I found this to be an unassuming and adequately handled time-passer which, unlike some of its Italian war film contemporaries, does not heavily feature Hollywood has-beens in an attempt to pass for one of their productions and is, in any case, mercifully short.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Churchill's Leopards tells the story of a group of British paratroopers
sent to France to destroy a dam just prior to D-Day. The idea is that
the resulting flood will wipe-out German supply lines, thereby reducing
the effectiveness of German forces (never mind the destruction to the
French countryside). The British have a secret weapon Lt Richard
Benson (Richard Harrison) is posing as his recently deceased twin
brother, Lt Hans Muller. Muller is the commander of German troops
stationed at the dam. A German SS officer, Hauptsturmfuhrer Holtz
(Klaus Kinski), is suspicious and is the major obstacle in the way of
In order to enjoy Churchill's Leopards, you really have to put all logic on hold and ignore all the historical inaccuracies. You can't think too hard about the ridiculous twin brother plot point or the fact that Muller's position at the dam is uber-convenient or any of the inaccurate military insignia and hardware. If you can do that, Churchill's Leopards is a reasonably entertaining film. The movie does take a little while to get going, but most movies of this type do. Director Maurizio Pradeaux has filled the final 2/3 of the film with plenty of action and tense moments. The finale on the dam is packed with suspense as the Nazis bear down on our heroes. The tight, confined action here is expertly filmed. Churchill's Leopards also includes one dramatic moment that I wasn't expecting and it ended up being a highlight for me. On a scenic overlook (speaking of scenic, the locations used in Churchill's Leopards are stunning), Kinski has lined-up a group of French citizens and intends to execute them in retaliation for the deaths of two Nazi soldiers. A woman named Elise (Pilar Velazquez), Benson's love interest, is one of the condemned. The frightened look in her eyes as she's waiting to die, knowing that Benson can do nothing or he'll blow his cover, is gut-wrenching. The entire time this drama is playing out, Kinski is pacing impatiently, drawing on a cigarette as if his life depended on it. The scene is filmed beautifully with Leone-esque close ups and includes some very appropriately moving music. It's one of those moments in a film that I'll never forget.
There are, however, some problems with Churchill's Leopards that I cannot overlook (and again, I'm not talking about logic or historical inaccuracies). Some of the acting was spotty. I really didn't care for Harrison's Benson/Muller. Maybe it wasn't his fault, but he just seemed disinterested to me during much of the film. Also, I usually don't complain about special effects in a movie like this that was so obviously filmed on a shoestring budget, but the final dam scene is jarring it's so bad. Next, the credits prominently feature Helga Line's name. I always enjoy her work. Here, though, her screen time is limited to less than five minutes and I'm being generous with that estimation. Still, the whole thing is fun enough that I had no problem getting past these issues.
CHURCHILL'S LEOPARDS - great title, by the way - is yet another
addition to the wave of WW2 flicks that emerged from Italy in the late
1960s after the initial enthusiasm for the spaghetti western genre had
run dry. It's a very familiar tale about a group of soldiers on a
mission to blow up a dam in Nazi-occupied France.
What follows is routine in the extreme, a film with only a handful of memorable moments (like the bit where a crowd of collaborators are about to be executed, an exercise in tension). The action is sparse and when it comes it's a bit of a disappointment, but then director Maurizio Pradeaux had only made a couple of films previously so he was hardly a seasoned expert behind the camera.
The most interesting thing about the film is the cast. American strongman Richard Harrison plays the dual role of a Nazi officer and his lookalike who's brought in to help the team, while Klaus Kinski is the nasty Nazi bad guy. Giacomo Rossi-Stuart has a supporting role as another hero, while Euro crumpet Helga Line shows up (and is welcome) and Spanish actor Frank Brana (RETURN OF THE EVIL DEAD) has a cameo.
During the latter days of World War II, a British Special Forces unit
is sent behind enemy lines to destroy a dam key to the German war
It wouldn't be unfair to describe Churchill's Leopards as a pretty standard entry from the Italian war movie cycle that was popular circa late 60's. After all it focuses on a crack team of soldiers on a dangerous, borderline suicidal mission. Not only that, it features an even more specific detail that films from this sub-genre often bizarrely used - the lookalike who is used to fool the Germans. Movies such as When Heroes Die (1970) and Casablanca Express (1989) also used this slightly ridiculous gimmick. Richard Harrison is the guy here who plays the dual role of a British soldier pretending to be his identical brother who happens to be a Nazi officer, although the latter is admittedly killed within the first five minutes by a partisan woman, leaving the door open for the English brother to saunter in and take his place - completely silly of course but par for the course when it comes to Macaroni Combat movies. Another regular feature seen here is Klaus Kinski as a ruthless SS officer, although rather stupidly they have this German baddie dubbed with an English accent which makes no sense and unfortunately reduces his potency on screen somewhat. I found this one to be overall not too bad for this kind of thing. I've found these Italian war movies to not be exactly a guarantee of quality, with the majority hovering around the mediocre end of the scale. This one ultimately is no different although I did think it set things up slightly better than most. The best scene has to go to the tense, well-handled part where the Nazis gather a group of French citizens on a picturesque mountain in order to be executed as revenge for the killing of two of their men. This scene is paced really well and does have some good tension; it shows that it's more low-key moments such as this that can have more impact than the more typical, and a bit tedious, gun battles that seem to be part of the formula for this kind of thing and which compromise the latter stages of this one too. Events ultimately culminate perhaps unsurprisingly with the dam explosion, which most people seem to think was terrible but which I actually thought was pretty good.
The mission: search out and destroy a radio station in Normandy before
the D-Day invasion.
The volunteer commandos, misfits from the American army do not care how its done and will run over anyone who gets in their way.
Hasn't this been done a thousand times?
And isn't it STILL being done?
The music is weird.
The direction is spotty.
Over all not really a good movie.
Makes me wonder when the market fell out for spaghetti films that have one or two known American actors.
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