My good friend Gill from ReelWeegieMidget Reviews approached me about participating in her Richard Burton Blog-a-Thon. Burton was not a big ’80s star. His only major movie role in the ’80s was Nineteen Eighty-Four. The thought of covering that film gave me chills as it reminded me of being made to read the book in school, not to mention that watching it today would be more of a disturbing true life documentary.
However, when I hear Richard Burton’s name, the first thing that comes to mind is the awesome World War II film Where Eagles Dare. It may not have been released in the ’80s, but the first time I saw it was in the ’80s. We rented the VCR tape from Movies & More, which was the big video store before Blockbuster came on the scene.
In the ’80s, of course I loved getting the newer movies that were released. However, no matter how many copies they had, they would be all out. Nothing was more disappointing than moving the cover and finding no cassettes behind it. You would just be holding an empty movie cover box. So, you would have to resort to older movies. But, that could also be fun, as you would see fun, cheesy horror movies, or old school war movies. I loved both. As far as war movies went, I loved The Guns of Navarone, The Great Escape, and Bridge On the River Kwai (starring the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, Alec Guinness). And of course, Where Eagles Dare stood out for me. I came for Clint Eastwood, but stayed for Richard Burton (and of course Clint Eastwood). Up to that point, I had never heard of Richard Burton. I didn’t know about his other awesome movies, or his relationship with Elizabeth Taylor. So the fact that his performance really stood out to me all these years later, when I had never even heard of him before watching this movie, is really saying something. So, let’s get into it and see if it is as good as I remember.
Runtime 2 hours 38 minutes
Released March 12, 1969
Synopsis Allied agents stage a daring raid on a castle where the Nazis are holding an American General prisoner… but that’s not all that’s really going on. (imdb)
Summary and Review
Just like most World War II films, this one begins with a briefing on what the mission is. In this case, U.S. Army Brigadier General George Carnaby has been captured and needs to be rescued. Why is he so damn important!?!?!? Well, he is one of the designers of the Western Front, and the allies need to retrieve him before he gives up any information. He is being held at the Castle of Eagles, which we are told is well named because only an eagle can get to it. A team of Allied commandos, led by British Major John Smith of the Grenadier Guards (Richard Burton) and U.S. Army Ranger Lieutenant Morris Schaffer (Clint Eastwood), must parachute in behind enemy lines. Mysteriously, one of the commandos is dead when he lands. Also, shortly after the commandos jumped out of the plane, a woman, named Mary Ellison (Mary Ure), comes out of the shadows of the plane, and parachutes out to a different area.
You get the idea that some shady shit is going on, as Smith secretly meets up with Mary afterwards, and he is also secretly updating Colonel Turner (Patrick Wymark) and Admiral Rolland (Michael Hordern) of MI6, of their status.
The film gets very exciting from this point on. The thing I love about this is that it is a combination of an action war movie, a mystery, and a spy thriller. There are three major stages of this movie, when only one by itself would be awesome. But, with all three, you remain glued for 2 hours and 38 minutes. Once the commandos have landed, they need to get to the captured General from the heavily guarded castle, which can only be accessed by helicopter or by cable car. Once they are able to get up to the castle, they need to get the General away from his interrogators. And even after that’s done, they need to escape from the castle, which is even more dangerous than arriving there, because their presence is known. There is barely any dialogue during most of the last hour of the movie. It is flat-out action that really keeps you on the edge of your seat. And there is a huge twist at the very end of the movie that made me go back and watch the movie again with different eyes.
Of course, Clint Eastwood is great in this movie. He’s not some invincible superhero. He is definitely a badass, but is also vulnerable. And he is very confused as to what is really going on behind this mission, and we see it through his eyes.
As huge as Eastwood is, it is Richard Burton who is the big star in this movie. We have no idea what his motive is. Is he who he claims to be? Or is he a double agent? He keeps us guessing through the whole movie. He is also suave, and he is just as much a badd-ass as Eastwood. He and Eastwood also have great chemistry, and there is a lot of humor.
5 “Broadsword calling Danny Boy”‘s
I m so happy that I Returned to this movie, and even watched it twice despite it’s long run time. It doesn’t even feel that long because the movie moves right along. I highly recommend this.
Thanks again to Gill from ReelWeegieMidget Reviews for running this Blog-a-Thon. Please check out her awesome site, and see what other Richard Burton movies there are through this Blog-a-Thon and my other blogging friends.
If you’d like to buy or rent this movie through Amazon, you can click on the movie poster.