Friday, 16 September 2016
Where Eagles Dare (1968)
If anyone tries to tell you that modern day films are over the top and ridiculous, you can point them to this near-50-year-old exercise in excess. Where Eagles Dare is not content with mere double or triple crosses; nor with cars that hit the bottom of the cliff and then explode. And we haven't even got into the matter of its body count.
Now I don't want it to seem like I am too down on the film. It's a pretty fun time if one accepts the somewhat dated styling of its action sequences, its penchant for keeping major plot details from the audience, and the script's tendency to turn everything up to 11. This is the kind of film, for instance, where when two enemies are escaping in a cable car, one does not merely heft the sub-machine gun one is carrying and let them have a good long burst. No, instead one leaps onto the cable car, engages in a fistfight atop it while planting a bomb, and then leaps from the first cable car to one passing in the opposite direction just before the bomb goes off.
The ostensible trigger for all these cable car shenanigans - and a whole lot of other shenanigans beside - is that an American general has been captured by the Germans. He was returning from a meeting in Crete with the Russians when his plane was shot down - a stroke of "damnable bad luck" given that no German fighters were expected to be in the area. Doubly-so, because it seems this particular General is fully informed of the D-Day plans. Dun dun dun!
Or maybe not so dun dun dun, since that word 'ostensible' is rather key, and there's a whole lot more going on than we're initially told. I wonder if audiences in the 60s were supposed to realise that straight away. Many of them would have lived through the war itself after all, so they'd have known that Crete was in German hands until the Nazis surrendered.
Be that as it may, an elite team of British agents - plus one American - are sent to rescue the General. From the start though it's pretty clear that more than one game is afoot. I won't spoil any of the twists and turns, but suffice it to say that your suspenders of disbelief will have to bear some serious strain!
I kind of want them to do a remake of this film. Someone give Daniel Craig and one of the Marvel Chris's a call and see if they're free, hey?