Sunday, April 14, 2019

Where Eagles Dare

I need to free up more room on my DVR, so I made the point of watching a longer movie, Where Eagles Dare.

The movie starts off with a plane being shot down in the winter of 1943/4, and then getting very quickly to the real action. That plane was carrying Carnaby (Robert Beatty), an American general on the way to a conference with the Soviets on the "second front", which of course nowadays means D-Day. The plane was shot in the high Alps, and the general is being held at a mountaintop fortress accessible only by cable car that has been commandeered for use by the SS. So British intelligence gives Maj. Smith the task of leading the team to find Carnaby and bring him back. Smith's team includes several Brits, and one American, Schaffer (Clint Eastwood).

Now, my first thought would have been why they didn't fly over the Atlantic to north Africa and from there to wherever the meeting would be held, but that's not Schaffer's first inkling that something isn't quite right. For Schaffer, that comes just after they all parachute in to the mountains, and the radioman is found dead of a broken neck, with a bruise that implies it didn't happen during the fall. Apparently, as with 13 Rue Madeleine, they've got a traitor in their midst, but who is it?

We begin to suspect something is up with Maj. Smith fairly quickly when he says that he forgot to get the codebook off the radio operator, but it's really a ruse to go meet Mary (Mary Ure), who was segregated from the rest of the team during the parachuting so that apparently Smith is the only one who knows she's part of the group.

The group makes it to the town at the base of the mountain where the castle is, at which point another of them gets murdered. The Nazis, for their part, realize they've got some British officers in their midst, and Maj. Smith gives them up, on the grounds that they'll be safer getting out of the Gasthaus where they're stuck with the Nazis looking for them. It works, at least for Smith and Schaffer, and eventually they're able to make their way up to the castle.

It turns out that this is only in part a rescue operation. Oh, there is an American being held hostage; it's just an actor who looks amazingly like the American general. They have to free him not to keep the Nazis from finding out about the second front, but to keep the Nazis from discovering the guy is an impostor who knows nothing about it. But more than a rescue operation, it was an intelligence operation to determine who are traitors in British intelligence.

Yet with all that, they actually still have to get out of the castle and back to territory held by the Allies, and it's here that we get the real climax with the action and explosions. The movie takes a darn long time in getting there, but when it does it's more than entertaining enough.

Having said that, there are some problems with the movie, starting off with the length, at about 155 minutes. Boy is it slow at times. There's also the trope of there being lots and lots of Nazis, but about the worst damage they do is to shoot Smith in the hand. Every time the plucky Allies fire their guns, they take down multiple Nazis. Yeah right. Much of the rest of the escape strains credulity too. Still, as I said, Where Eagles Dare is certainly entertaining. If you want to sit back with a bowl of popcorn and just watch something fun, you could do far worse.

1 comment:

Birgit said...

This film is a bit long and I always laugh at the 1960’s hairstyles and makeup on women even though it is supposed to be the 1940’s. Regardless, I agree that this is a fun film which I love watching.