6.8/10
9,839
119 user 52 critic

The Wild Geese (1978)

A British banker hires a group of British mercenaries to rescue a deposed African president from the hands of a corrupt African dictator.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
Reviews

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ON DISC

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
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Lt. Pieter Coetzee (as Hardy Kruger)
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Sir Edward Matherson
Winston Ntshona ...
President Julius Limbani
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Sgt. Jesse Link
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R.S.M. Sandy Young
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Kenneth Griffith ...
Arthur Witty
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Thomas Balfour
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Jock McTaggart
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Tosh Donaldson
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Rushton
...
Heather
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Storyline

A British multinational seeks to overthrow a vicious dictator in central Africa. It hires a band of (largely aged) mercenaries in London and sends them in to save the virtuous but imprisoned opposition leader. Written by Richard Young <richy@vnu.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Dogs of War. The Best D*** Mercenaries in the Business! See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

11 November 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los gansos salvajes  »

Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(London premiere print)|

Color:

(Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Patrick Allen (Rushton) also narrated the UK trailer of this film. He also was the narrator of the trailer for Wild Geese II (1985). See more »

Goofs

During the final battle, hundreds of shooters fire thousands of rounds at each other, yet not a single person is seen reloading. See more »

Quotes

[as the enemy attacks]
Esposito: We're dead!
RSM Sandy Young: Esposito, you're not dead until I TELL you you're dead.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in PROFILE: Hardy Kruger (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Rafer's theme
by Aleksandr Borodin (as A. Borodin)
Arr. Roy Budd (as Budd)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
These two English wannabe-snobs are way off base.
28 September 1999 | by (Birmingham, Alabama) – See all my reviews

The Wild Geese surprised me in the theater back in the late 1970's. As a former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger and Vietnam vet, I had mixed feelings about it. But I keep watching it every couple of years and it has become one of my favorite films.

Yes, it's a fanciful story, romanticizing the boring, grubby, dangerous lives of the very few mercenary soldiers in the world. But its daring small-unit tactics are actually pretty good, and they do illustrate the chaos and devastation a well trained special ops force can cause in an enemy's rear area. It also illustrates the ease with which such a small unit can be wiped out if the enemy can locate it and bring real forces to bear against it.

And, interestingly, it shows very clearly the effectiveness of even a single small, armed airplane against an infantry unit unequipped with anti-aircraft capability. So whoever wrote and advised on this film had some genuine experience. There are many examples of true combat reality in various parts of the film.

However, there are also some of the usual war-movie-making gaffes and there were some really silly, amateurish attempts at special effects in the theatrical release, most of which have been edited out in the cable movie versions. So it's still a mixed bag but overall very effective.

The other aspects of this film are universally wonderful. It has a plausible enough story line once you've decided to accept the premise, and from there it progresses nicely indeed. Several of the subplots are intense and very moving, some are a little comical and some are downright funny. Burton's last line to Emile, "Let's talk about your father." is as fine a line as can be written.

The depth of the cast is remarkable: dozens of very good actors, some speaking only one or two lines, but so well delivered! (There are also some awkward lines that just don't work at all. As I said, this film is a mixed bag.) Even in the small rolls, Jock, Tosh, Esposito, the village priest, Jesse and others, the quality just shines.

The movie doesn't shy away from the unglamorous, gut-wrenching realities of the consequences of mercenary operations, either. There are some very troubling scenes about the responsibilities of leadership in such a unit.

There is not another movie like The Wild Geese.

I couldn't end without saying this one last thing. The theme song "The Wild Geese," sung by Joan Armatrading is simply marvelous. It is worth the price of admission, and is played in its entirety during the closing credits. I recommend that you close your eyes and just listen.


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