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OK, to respond to the "review" from Richard WA.
The movie is of course based on Jack Higgins' bestseller of the same name and like many debut books, is by far the best book he wrote - being written over a period of years as Higgins worked as a schoolteacher. It is meticulously researched and a fine read.
Now the film.
First, Of course an historically illiterate US teen would barely comprehend that history existed pre World War II or understand that the USA doesn't have a monopoly of the eagle as a national symbol. I read the book back in the mid-70's and never even thought about moon landings. For war movies/books, "eagles" are forever associated with Germany & that the USA also uses an eagle as a national symbol is purely coincidental.
Richard WA can relax in the knowledge that few outside his peer group experienced his confusion.
Second, By telling the story from the German perspective, we get a new appreciation of the German fighting man's view. Just as "Das Boot" gave us an insight into the German mind, so too does this. A similar experience can be had watching the WWII POW camp movie "The McKenzie Break" where German POW's try to escape from a British camp - quite interesting really. But I guess if you're only interested in rooting for the Red, White and Blue, this is not your thing.
Third, The accents are brilliantly done. It was decided for the movie that the comical Hollywood "German" accent would not be used. The "Ve haff vays of making you tork you schweinhund" is nowhere to be seen, instead the German characters use perfect accentless English to great effect.
Fourth, Sutherland's Irish character, Devlin, is not a Nazi sympathiser. He agrees to support the operation because the Germans offer to pay him a fortune to do so. Money for the cause etc.
Fifth, The pre-operation phase of the movie is actually too short - as the producers wanted more of an action flick than the book delivers. In the book, the planning of the operation is analysed to infinite detail, down to the uniform details and relative attributes of allied versus German parachutes. I guess if your experience is computer games, then exposure to any kind of pre-operation detail is not something you're used to.
Sixth, A newcomer in WWII Britain would certainly raise suspicion and Sutherland's character certainly does do that - not really a flaw of the book/movie but an operational problem that the Germans just had to accept given the timeframes involved.
Seventh, Jenny Agutter's character is completely unbelievable. Try to ignore that part of the movie - thankfully she's there for purely aesthetic purposes.
Eighth, The 5th columnist who already lives in the English village is actually a South African survivor of the British concentration camps - as explained in the movie. Perhaps Richard WA thought they were a German invention or more likely he's never heard of the Boer War and sleepwalked through that part of the movie.
Ninth, The "battle" scene is deliberately short to emphasise the gulf in class between German paratroops and National Guards. When the Germans are confronted by real soldiers, they're defeated in short order. Larry Hagman's character is a poor caricature and serves only to supply a comic element that's not needed - something the movie suffers from as if the producer was scared to make the movie too gritty. Richard WA's last point is most revealing. Why should Germans fight for Germany when everyone knew that they were going to lose and were on the wrong side anyway. Who ever heard of a brave German soldier fighting to the end anyway? Despite what many think, Americans don't have an monopoly on patriotism either - I doubt if he ever wonders why Steve McQueen never settled for a comfortable life in a German POW camp!
Tenth, Yeah, the tunnel is something of a contrived device...it's not in the book BTW.
Eleventh, The reason for not spiriting "Churchill" away after the attempt to kidnap him was precisely because the British wanted Germany to think he was there and not in Tehran! The whole point of a decoy is that it's visible and attracts the attention while the real principal is concealed.
In summery, the Eagle has Landed is a solid attempt to film a great book. I doubt, given the plot, that a universally appealing movie could've been made but the greatest movies ever are not universally appealing. Movies you love as children are not regarded in the same way in adulthood.
The Eagle has Landed is in many ways like "The Day of the Jackal". Most of the action goes on inside the principals' heads. Deception, mental thought processes and subterfuge don't make good cinema. However the movie has some very good points:
Great locations. Great actors doing good jobs (Jenny Agutter excepted) - especially Donald Pleasance doing the best ever spine-chilling portrayal of Himmler. Good twist at the end. Challenging portrayal of "the enemy".
I recommend it - it's not "A Bridge Too far" but it's pretty good.
After the successful rescue of Mussolini by German Paratroopers, Col.Max
Radl is asked to prepare a feasibility study on an attempt to kidnap Winston
Churchill. At first this seems a preposterous idea, until a message arrives
from an agent in Britain which reports that Churchill will spend a weekend
in the picturesque Norfolk village of Studley Constable, which is only a few
miles from a deserted stretch of coastline. A plan is formulated to drop
Col.Kurt Steiner and his highly experienced unit into Norfolk to carry out
the mission, aided by IRA man Liam Devlin and respected local figure Joanna
Grey, who is a German agent and the source of the original
This film has been a personal favourite of mine since I first saw it on its TV premiere around 1979, aged 12. It is of course the screen adaptation of Jack Higgins bestseller. I must admit to never having read the book, so I can't testify how closely the film follows it. Produced by ITC in 1976, it boasts an impressive cast in Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasance and a pre-JR Larry Hagman. Veteran Hollywood Director John Sturges was at the helm - the man responsible for 'Bad Day At Black Rock', 'The Magnificent Seven' and 'The Great Escape' to name just three. The production values and technical credits are uniformally good.
As to the film itself, it remains an entertaining romp. Your interest is held throughout, and you find yourself half wanting the Germans to get away with it, as Michael Caine and his men are such decent chaps. Donald Sutherland is full of Irish charm as Devlin, Larry Hagman is intentionally funny as the incompetent Col.Clarence T.Pitts, Robert Duvall is convincing and sympathetic as Radl, and Donald Pleasance quite chilling as Himmler. Good though the film is, it might have been better. In his autobiography, Michael Caine talks about the fact that after shooting had wrapped, Sturges headed back to California and never returned for any of the editing or post production. Caine felt let down by this, for as he correctly states, a Director can do some of his most important work at this stage. However, he also remembers the shooting of the film as a very pleasurable experience. At that time he lived at Windsor, and much of the filming was done nearby on the beautiful Mapledurham Estate, during the longest, hottest summer that most of us remember.
I paid a visit to Mapledurham recently, during the fine summer that we've just enjoyed. It's instantly recognisible - the watermill, the church, the manor house, Joanna Grey's cottage - all as they appear in the film and well worth a visit. It always amuses me that the events are supposed to take place in November - a truly miserable month here - and yet its clearly mid-summer on screen.
I have one major gripe. Not with the film itself, but its availability on DVD. The UK version is to be avoided like the plague. Cursed with being distributed here by Carlton, its in 1.33:1 and worse is missing some 12 minutes of footage. The US version is at least in 2.35:1, but is still missing 3 to 4 minutes of the film. Thank heavens that I still have my complete version recorded from the BBC some 12 years ago, before they decided to cut some brief moments of violence. Its really annoying when a good film that did reasonable business at the box office gets such shoddy treatment on DVD. There really is no excuse for it.
When all is said and done, this is a good entertaining yarn and an intriguing idea (even if it does have echoes of 'Went The Day Well'). Maybe not a classic, but always good fun, professionally mounted and with some lovely locations. Give it a try if you haven't already seen it, just avoid that Region 2 DVD!
Based on a best-selling tall story by Jack Higgins, and featuring an
all-star cast that must've cost half the budget just to get to sign up for
the project, The Eagle Has Landed is an enjoyable but slightly overlong
German soldier Max Radl (Robert Duvall) comes up with an audacious plot to deliver a devastating blow to the Allied forces by kidnapping Winston Churchill from a Norfolk village. A team of deadly German spies, led by Kurt Steiner (Michael Caine), are smuggled into England to carry out this sinister scheme. Aided by an Irish mercenary (Donald Sutherland), the German forces rapidly and ruthlessly close in on their target. Only an inexperienced American garrison, posted in a quiet corner of Norfolk, can stand in the way of a devastating German victory.
The Eagle Has Landed is one of the few films where the all-star cast doesn't have a detrimental effect. In films like A Bridge Too Far and The Longest Day, the presence of so many stars actually results in a game of "star-spotting", and this diverts the audience's attention away from important plot developments. In The Eagle Has Landed, each actor brings depth and charisma to their strongly written roles (especially Sutherland as the devious Irish rogue, and Duvall as an eye-patch wearing Nazi). This film's faults lie elsewhere. The opening hour and a quarter goes on rather too much and ought to have been trimmed by at least fifteen minutes. Also, the plot rides its luck with increasingly less likely, less plausible developments (especially the unpersuasive "twist" ending). For these reasons, The Eagle Has Landed isn't quite the excellent film you might be hoping for. What it is, however, is an enjoyable, well-acted and very watchable slice of escapism.
"The Eagle has Landed" is a fine World War II fiction film placed in
England that deals with a German commando operation planned to kidnap
(or kill) Winston Chruchill.
The pìcture is most entertaining right from the start -when the plan is designed- and keeps up all along when it comes to the operation's achieving. A good script, excellent British outdoor locations, well made action sequences and a most competent cast are highlights of the film. Its also interesting that the German commandos are shown as decent and even likable men, professional soldiers that just like the allies fight a war for their country even if they don't agree with the Nazi regime that rules it.
"The Eagle has Landed" is also a good farewell from movies for director John Sturges (this is his last work in direction) a prolific man that gave us movie and western fans very good titles of the genre such us "Gunfight at OK Corral", "The Magnificent Seven", "Last Train from Gun Hill" and the more contemporary "Bad Day at Black Rock".
A most entertaining and enjoyable film in the genre.
Partially thanks to my father I've always been a fan of war movies and
that's how I already saw several of them as a kid. But of course as a
kid I wasn't as critical towards them as I am today. Several of the war
movies from the sixties and seventies now seem dated and very
unbelievable (think for instance of "Where Eagles Dare" from 1968,
which many people seem to like, but which lacks all realism as the
Allies seem impenetrable by German bullets). But that doesn't mean that
they all are bad. Take for instance "Cross of Iron", "All Quiet on the
Western Front" (the TV remake), "A Bridge Too Far",... which are one by
one excellent movies. If I have to give this movie a place in between
these two categories, than I would say right in the middle. It isn't
the best war movie from that time period, but it's far from bad.
Based on the novel by Jack Higgins, this movie tells the story of Colonel Steiner, a German parachute unit commander, who has been court-marshaled for opposing the SS in rounding up Jews. To avoid further imprisonment and certain death, he is offered the chance to go on an assignment in England. He and his unit will have to kidnap the British Prime Minister Winston Churchil on a covert mission. They decide to go for the seemingly impossible assignment and dressed as Polish soldiers on a training maneuver, they soon take over a small English town, waiting for the visit of the Prime Minister who will take his vacation there...
Even though I have read the book, I'm not really able to tell you whether the adaption to the movie has been a success or not. I read the book about ten years ago and it's impossible for me to remember all the details. However, as I already said, this certainly isn't a bad movie. The acting for instance is very nice. People like Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall,... all did a nice job. Especially Donald Sutherland stole the show playing the IRA militant and full time playboy Liam Devlin. What I also liked was that the 'Germans' didn't speak with some funny accent, but spoke fluent English. I prefer to hear the Germans speak German, but when that it isn't possible, this option is the best to go for. There is nothing more hateful than a well-known Hollywood actor who tries to make you believe that he speaks a language other than English (it never works and only brings down the quality of a movie).
Overall this is a good WWII movie that shows the war from a different perspective, namely from the German side. For some that will probably make it uninteresting as they see the Germans as the stupid bad guys, unable of doing some daring operations, but for me it works. I really liked this movie and all its aspects. The story is nice, the action scenes look more than OK, the acting is very good,... I really liked it all and that's why I give this movie a 7.5/10.
In September of 1943, Col. Max Radl (Robert Duvall) develops a plan,
approved by Heinrich Himmler (Donald Pleasance), to kidnap or kill
Winston Churchill in England. The rebel Col. Kurt Steiner (Michael
Caine),who is arrested with his men due to insubordination, is invited
to participate, since he has had a British education. They would have
clean records and recover their military patents again. The condition
not negotiable of Col. Kurt to accept the mission is that his men wear
the German uniform below their costumes, since they are soldiers and
not spies. The group, dressed like Polish soldiers, together with the
Irish Liam Devlin (Donald Sutherland), goes to a coastal town, where
Churchill is supposed to pass through. An incident with a girl reveals
their plot to the local civilians, jeopardizing their mission.
Having an outstanding cast and the direction of John Sturges, this movie is a great entertainment, having drama, suspense, action and some comedy in right doses. Fans of war movies will certainly like it. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): 'A Águia Pousou'(' The Eagle Has Landed')
I almost gave up on this film after the first hour. It was just too
slow for me and I was having difficulty picking up some of dialog with
the foreign accents (no subtitles are offered on the DVD).
However, once the "invasion" started the film was very interesting. The only ridiculous part was the role played by Larry Hagman. Liberal Hollywood loves to portray every Southerner as a gung-ho, out-of-control military freak. If I was from the South, I would have been highly offended at this stereotype.
What's really different about this film is that it's a World War II story told from the German side where the Germans are pictured as humane people. You don't see that too much from English-speaking filmmakers.
Michael Caine is the most likable of these people, one of those given the assignment of kidnapping Winston Churchill (interesting premise, off the best- selling book by Jack Higgins). Donald Sutherland plays an Irishman recruited to help in the kidnapping and he's fun to watch.
This is really a man's movie, something like "The Guns Of Navarone," but they inserted Jenny Agutter in here to give the viewers a pretty face and some romance, even though it has absolutely no bearing on the story.
Robert Duvall, Jean Marsh, Treat Williams, Donald Pleasance and Anthony Quayle are some of the other "name" actors who contribute. All in all, a pretty good movie if you can get by that first hour!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The German's hatch a plan to kidnap Churchill. Using a local citizen
sympathetic to the German cause and an IRA operative, the Nazis move a
group of specially trained commandos into England disguised as Polish
paratroopers. But their cover is quickly blown while on maneuvers when
one of the German soldier's true identity is revealed after he jumps
into a canal to save a little girl. It's up to some U.S. National Guard
troops stationed nearby to root out the Nazis and save Churchill.
It's hard for me to put a finger on it, but there's just something about The Eagle Has Landed that's not quite right. I've narrowed it down to a couple of things that really distract from my overall enjoyment of the movie. The first is obvious Larry Hagman's performance as Col. Pitts. To be blunt, he's terrible. For whatever reason, John Sturges had Hagman play his character as comic relief. It's completely out of place and really harms the mood of the movie. A "straight" performance would have been much more preferable.
The second thing I find distracting about the movie is very difficult to explain, but it has something to do with the overall look of the film. Other than a few shots of gore as the American soldiers are being hit by bullets, much of the movie has a cheap, made-for-TV look to it that also takes away from the tone of the movie. It's not as "gritty" looking (for lack of a better word) as it should be. The battle scene doesn't look as real as it should. The soldiers look like actors.
That's not to say that I don't find things enjoyable about The Eagle Has Landed. Other than Hagman, the acting is first-rate. Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, and Donald Pleasence give terrific performances. The plot is an interesting idea although I would have preferred more on the planning of the kidnapping. Not being much of a student of history I have no idea how much is true, but it certainly seems feasible as presented. And finally, I really enjoy the Nazi operative played by Jean Marsh. The look on her face after her cover is blown and the local priest confronts her is priceless. It's a nice moment of acting.
This is an exceptional war movie about a supposed plot by the Nazis to
kidnap Churchill. Michael Caine is a German officer who speaks perfect
English and leads a team of paratroopers who are disguised as Poles.
The cover story is that they are a Free Polish regiment on maneuvers in
Britain. At the same time, IRA leader Donald Sutherland helps lay the
groundwork for their arrival.
The story is very complex and the acting is first-rate. Provided you don't think too much, this is a highly entertaining film. Sure, the Nazis didn't attempt such a mission, but I enjoyed this alternative history movie.
The concept of the movie is both great and original but however the
execution of it is not exactly done in the best way possible.
The movie starts of very slow and even perhaps a bit boring. Thankfuly the second halve of the movie is much better once the action and story really start and take more pace and form. It might not be as entertaining and good as other WW II/action movies, meant as entertainment, such as "Where Eagles Dare", "Kelly's Heroes" and "The Guns of Navarone" but it does have some great moments in it which still helps to make "The Eagle Has Landed" a bit of a must see for the fans of the genre.
The story is just great and its interesting to see a movie for once from the perspective of the German side. For once the Germans are not portrayed as ruthless villains but as soldiers with valor and courage instead. The movie is perhaps a bit moralistic in the first halve of the movie (basicly every German soldier shown in the movie openly hates Hitler and is against the deportation of Jews to the concentration camps. It feels too forced all) but nevertheless the perspective the movie is told from is great and works good for the movie. It's too bad that the movie is told needlessly slow at times, while it could had been a great fast paced action-movie.
The movie has a great cast but this is not really an actors movie, meaning that the movie wouldn't had been any better or worse with some other lesser known names in it. It was weird to hear Donald Sutherland talking in an Irish accent and Robert Duvall with a German one. Also Treat Williams in one of his first movie roles was horrible as the American soldier Capt. Clark. On the other hand, it was great to see Donald Pleasance as Heinrich Himmler. Other big names in this movie are Michael Caine, Anthony Quayle and Jean Marsh.
The action sequences are good and definitely the best part of the movie. The movie is somewhat entertaining to watch and it does have some well placed humor at times but its not quite enough to truly uplift this movie to a level of greatness.
This last movie from director John Sturges is a memorable but not perfect one.
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