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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.


Andrew V. McLaglen


Reginald Rose (screenplay), Daniel Carney (novel)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




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 ... Arthur Witty
Barry Foster ... Thomas Balfour
Ronald Fraser ... Jock McTaggart
Ian Yule ... Tosh Donaldson
Patrick Allen ... Rushton
Rosalind Lloyd ... Heather


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


Soldiers of Fortune... Modern Musketeers. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Sir Roger Moore recalled in his autobiography, that Richard Harris played a prank on him by placing a rubber snake in his bungalow. He didn't scream, no doubt to Harris' annoyance. Moore got him back by putting a real snake in his bungalow, which caused him to scream. See more »


The hammer on R.S.M. Sandy Young's Colt .45 is still down after he fires a round into the dirt to get the exhausted soldier moving again during the training sequence. See more »


RSM Sandy Young: Some of you know me already! Those of you who don't are in for a great, big fuckin' surprise! For those of you who do can expect an infinitely more horrible time than they can remember! Any man here who steps out of line and I will kill stone dead, it will not worry me in the slightest! There are no Queen's regulations here! When I say jump, you ask how high,Do I make myself clear? I want to hear it! Do I make myself clear? RIGHT! On the command Right and Left turn, A and B squads turn to the ...
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Alternate Versions

In the version shown on UK television, Sandy shouts abuse at one of the men who has collapsed during training and doesn't want to get up due to exhaustion. Sandy then pulls out his pistol and tells him to "Get up you lazy abortion" yet the words do not match the lip synching. This would indicate that the original dialogue was something even more offensive and had to be toned down and dubbed for TV broadcast. See more »


Followed by Wild Geese II (1985) See more »


Rafer's theme
by Aleksandr Borodin (as A. Borodin)
Arr. Roy Budd (as Budd)
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User Reviews

„The Expendables" of it's time, but as far as mercenary-flicks go, „The Wild Geese" hasn't been topped yet
16 November 2014 | by t_atzmuellerSee all my reviews

What makes this movie the classic it is, is the chemistry between lead- and supporting actors, all among the finest of their time: Roger Moore essentially plays his cool James-Bond-persona in camouflage (indeed, the jovial manner in which he offs his opponents while chomping a cigar makes one believe he still owns a "licence to kill"). Burton convinces as boozed-out, aging and fallen out of fortune mercenary, Harris as his reluctant buddy and Krueger (although his sudden conversion from racist Afrikaner to moderate is more than a little sudden and implausible), Krueger plays the redneck Boer with a heart to a tit.

The rest of the cast is similar formidable: Stewart Granger, although generally known for his dandy-roles, is suitable unlikeable as aristocratic, double-dealing employer, Frank Finlay excellent even in a tiny role as missionary, one cannot help but like Kenneth Griffith as gay comedic-sidekick-cum-hero, Ian Yule, all makes a perfect cast for this Film. And of course the great, late Jack Watson as aging trainer, who at all times looks like longing for the battlefield while trimming his garden in England, while longing for his garden when sitting in the training-camp, eating what surely must have been beans and sausages. Watsons "training" and cuss-tirades are among the highlights of the film.

As for the accusations of being racist (having been filmed in South-Africa), even today, decades after the apartheid-regime has ended: I highly doubt that filming added much financially to the then-government. If anything it put some money in the pockets of the locals involved. The leading African cast other than the enemy-soldiers of course, namely John Kani and Winston Ntshona, is generally portrayed positive and amiable and as for accusing the film for showing African countries as either tribal and backward or run by military despots and juntas – well, one needs only look toward the country that was back then called Rhodesia today or perhaps at Uganda, one of the more "stable" countries in Africa, where they're considering a bill that will make homosexuality a crime punishable by death, at the time I'm tipping these words. A negative reputation usually doesn't come from nowhere.

A final word about the „controversial" theme-song by Joan Armatrading: As with most things, it's really a matter of taste and for me personally the inability of the singer to hit a correct note rather soured my teeth. Other than that, I found this opening schmaltz ballad about as appropriate for a mercenary-film as if one had used "My heart will go on" to open the movie "300" (but that's just my subjective opinion).


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Frequently Asked Questions

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UK | Switzerland



Release Date:

11 November 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Wild Geese See more »

Filming Locations:

Tshipise, Limpopo, South Africa See more »


Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (London premiere print)| Mono



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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