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After the success of The Wild Geese (1978) novelist Daniel Carney was asked by producer Euan Lloyd to write a sequel. Carney originally refused has he could not think up a storyline until producer Euan Lloyd gave him one, this film's high-concept: the kidnap of Rudolph Hess from Spandau Prison. See more »
Richard Burton was to star in this sequel to the original Wild Geese, but he died before shooting started. Edward Fox was rushed in as his younger brother with a script change. The film was dedicated to Burton.
Probably a much better film could have been dedicated to Burton, I think he would have liked some Shakespearean production dedicated to him. Not that the first Wild Geese would ever rank among the great films of all time, but it was nicely done story about the comradeship of the military fraternity.
These guys headed by Fox and Scott Glenn aren't mercenaries, they're heist guys. And it's a who they're trying to heist not a what. The last prisoner in Spandau where all the surviving Nazis were contained, those who weren't hanged.
Sir Laurence Olivier takes out his mitteleuropa Albert Basserman accent for the last time to play Rudolf Hess, former Deputy Fuehrer of the Third Reich who escaped the hangman at Nuremberg because of insanity and the fact he'd flown to the UK and was captured there. He sat out World War II in a British jail while the Holocaust was going on. Hard to prove complicity in it in that situation.
Hess was a symbol to neo-Nazis everywhere, a last living reminder of Hitler's Germany. But the man himself was essentially a nobody. What he did do was attach himself early on to Adolph Hitler, served time in jail to him. As a faithful scribe he took down Hitler's prose in what later became Mein Kampf.
When Hitler came to power, he gave Hess a nice high falutin' title of Deputy Fuehrer, a reward for services rendered. But Hess was never in the inner circle of things and gradually moved farther and farther out of Hitler's orbit as he consolidated power in Germany.
So in 1941 poor Hess cooked up this whacko scheme to fly to the United Kingdom on his own to try and negotiate a separate peace. Of course when it was realized that he spoke for no one, the British clapped him jail. It was a sad pathetic attention getting gesture by a very mediocre man, shoved aside by those in power.
The premise of this story is that Glenn and Fox are hired to spring Hess out of Spandau so he could tell what he knew about Hitler to the world. The plot gets needlessly complicated as the Russians, the Palestinians, and the IRA all get involved.
Knowing what we know about Hess the question to all this is why bother?
Even Laurence Olivier doing a part by rote is better than most players giving their all. The rest of the cast just goes through the motions as Olivier does.
Not a great tribute film for Richard Burton.
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