Monday, April 5, 2010

'Where Eagles Dare' is a great thriller

Nazi Germany was consigned to the ash heap of history exactly 65 years ago this year. I'm celebrating that milestone by posting reviews of movies featuring Nazis getting their asses handed to them across all my blogs for the next few weeks. Here's my take on one of the very best.

Where Eagles Dare (1968)
Starring: Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Mary Ure, and Ingrid Pitt
Director: Brian G. Hutton
Rating: Ten of Ten Stars

As the war in Europe is on the verge of being decided, an American general with detailed knowledge of Allied plans is captured and brought to an isolated mountain top fortress deep within Nazi-held territory. An American Ranger (Eastwood) joins a commando team led by one of Britain's top intelligent agents (Burton) to make the impossible possible and rescue the general before he breaks under interrogations. However, as the mission is underway, it soon becomes apparentthere is a traitor on theam... and that everyones lives are in danger until he is unmasked.

"Where Eagles Dare" is not only a nicely written spy thriller, it's also one of the very best action movies ever made. It may be over two-and-a-half hours long, but you'll never know it, because once it gets going, it barely pauses to let the viewer catch his breath.

Written by Alistair McClean (whose action-packed novels I loved to read as a kid), this WW2 thriller features twists upon twists that will keep you guessing what will happen next. More than forty years after it was made, the film is still fresh and exciting... and the visual effects even hold up. (The battle on the cable car is every bit as engrossing now as it must have been to audiences in 1968.) The film is made even better by Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood's fine performances. Burton is particuarly excellent, because he brings just enough coldness to the character to put the audience off-guard as the film goes through its various twists.

If you're a fan of action movies, you owe it to yourself to see this film, as it's one of the few true classic of the genre.

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