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Cinerama : Where Eagles Dare.

By Mike Derderian A hopeless absurdist proclaimed the other day that when an eagle dies, little forest creatures cry in joy and elation. I would dare then, just like them, climb the cliff that leads to Schlosse Adler the same way Major Jonathan Smith (Richard Burton) and Lieutenant Morris Schaffer (Clint Eastwood) did in Brian G. Hutton's 1968 war movie Where Eagles Dare. One thing that always perplexes me when watching this type of movies is the amount of funding the bad guys have. Loads of money, tons of war equipment, doomsday weapons, classic cars, beautiful women (who either end up getting killed or turn out to be double agents), an endless supply of henchmen and a gothic castle built on a hard-to-reach mountain, are the fringe benefits of being a member of an evil organization. Sign me upC*sounds like a Bond-flick doesn't it!Where Eagles Dare is a cliffhanger with every meaning of the word and I am not just talking about watching Burton and Eastwood dangle from a cliff with Nazi soldiers take bad aim at them with their machine guns. This 158-minute old-style propaganda adventure that spells "we'll win the war for you" stars William Squire, Patrick Wymark, Donald Houston, Robert Beatty, Derren Nesbitt, Neil McCarthy, Brook Williams and Mary Ure as fair Fraulein Mary Elison.Americans should have stuck to fighting Nazis in World War II campy Hollywood movies instead of trying to save the real world. But they probably started believing their own movies after catching a bad case of in-fiction-realititis, and Where Eagles Dare despite its being an excellent testosterone-driven war movie is a good example.Unlike the old Hollywood formula of adapting books for cinema Alistair MacLean, renowned war and adventure novelist, was hired to write a story for a film upon the request of producer Elliot Kastner. The story goes that "Burton's stepson wanted him to star in an old-fashioned adventure movie". A novel with the same title was published after the film's release.Other movies that were based on novels written by MacLean and you've probable seen are The Guns of Navarone (1961), Ice Station Zebra (1968), Force 10 from Navarone (1978) and Night Watch (1995). Those were the ones that I watched; the list includes 12 more movies. After the capture of an American General, the British government fear that Nazis would learn about D-Day, which became known in history as the day on which the Allied forces landed on the shores of France during World War II on June 6, 1944. Now, D-Day is a military term used to refer to a day on which an attack or an operation is to be initiated.So the British decide to send out a rescue team of five soldiers that include our two brave chaps. The American general is held captive at Schlosse Adler (Castle Adler), which is found atop a towering mountain. On their way, the fifth member of the rescue team dies from a broken neck injury! Taciturn Schaffer (Eastwood) smells a rat and tells Smith (Burton) about his doubts. There is a traitor amongst them. After a strenuous hike and a long danger-filled climb to the top of the mountain and into the Nazi infested castle, they finally meet their contact in the person of one curvy and sassy Fraulein Mary Elison (Ure). Now they have two missions: First, find the general and then discover who is the double agent. The action sequences will play on one's nerve especially the scene of the cable car which is appropriately the only escape route for our courageous military honchos from the castle of hell. Hey try barging into a castle packed with Nazis without unleashing all hell on you. From start to end most of the scenes in this movie were a series of non-stop action-sequences highlighted by the one-liner quips delivered by Burton and Eastwood. The tight British humor mixed with American sarcasm was too much for Nazis to handle; that's why probably they lost the war.The easy to follow intense storyline--thanks to MacLean's writing--the spectacular aerial cinematography, the visual effects and the daring stunts is what made Where Eagles Dare a good war movie worth 158-minutes of your life. The peak of the film, however, is in the twist that unravels itself to us near the end.Must-see-scenes: Smith and Schaffer's taunting encounter with the SS officers in the castle's meeting room that ends with a bloodbath; Elison's tongue-in-cheek dialogue with Schaffer; the cable car scene; and the daring full-speed-ahead bus escape. nCinerama : Where Eagles Dare

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Aug 15, 2006
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