6.8/10
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118 user 50 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:

Andrew V. McLaglen

Writers:

Reginald Rose (screenplay), Daniel Carney (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Burton ... Colonel Allen Faulkner
Roger Moore ... Lt. Shawn Fynn
Richard Harris ... Capt. Rafer Janders
Hardy Krüger ... Lt. Pieter Coetzee (as Hardy Kruger)
Stewart Granger ... Sir Edward Matherson
Winston Ntshona ... President Julius Limbani
John Kani ... Sgt. Jesse Link
Jack Watson ... R.S.M. Sandy Young
Frank Finlay ... Father Geoghagen
Kenneth Griffith Kenneth Griffith ... Arthur Witty
Barry Foster ... Thomas Balfour
Ronald Fraser ... Jock McTaggart
Ian Yule ... Tosh Donaldson
Patrick Allen ... Rushton
Rosalind Lloyd ... 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

Plot Keywords:

bird | fowl | value | operative | troop | See All (173) »

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Switzerland | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 November 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Los gansos salvajes See more »

Filming Locations:

Tshipise, Limpopo, South Africa See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,423,104, 31 December 1978
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (London premiere print)| Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer Euan Lloyd hesitated before offering the role of 'Witty' (the homosexual medic) to his longtime friend Kenneth Griffith. When finally approached, Griffith said "Some of my dearest friends in the world are homosexuals!" and accepted the part. The character was widely condemned as a stereotype (despite the fact that there are and were people just like him in the real world). See more »

Goofs

During Fynn and Coetzee's first meeting in the pub, the volume of beer in their glasses increases and decreases between shots. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Shawn Fynn: I may have a job for you.
Lt. Pieter Coetze: Thanks, I went to prison once, I didn't like it.
See more »

Alternate Versions

NBC edited 12 minutes from this film for its 1982 network television premiere. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Sir Norbert Smith, a Life (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

Flight of the Wild Geese
Written and Performed by Joan Armatrading
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
These two English wannabe-snobs are way off base.
28 September 1999 | by SquirePMSee 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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