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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, English - Hearing Impaired, Romanian
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Featurette

Where Eagles Dare

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 149 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

This is the only real Alistair MacLean movie/book I’ve ever managed to successfully get into. While I’m sure his others are similar in their war actionness, this one grabbed me as a kid and I’d watch it again and again. Not to the same levels Howard Hughes watched Ice Station Zebra, but still fairly regularly.

The copy we had was a grainy taped-off-the-telly video that was recorded during a high wind so there was lots of static. So perhaps this was actually the first time I’d truly watched it. And what appealed to me as a kid, didn’t quite measure up as an adult. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a pretty exciting war movie with some great action scenes and a fairly good story (if you can understand the explanation of who the spies are). However, Clint Eastwood spends a lot of the film in a killing frenzy, offing the enemy like it’s Kill-a-Kraut-For-Christ week. Not to mention the fact that none of the Germans can hit the broad side of a mountain in return. Oh well. There are also some dodgier special effects (see the baddie fall down the mountainside, his legs a-floppin’ this way and that) and green screen residue plus my all-time favourite; blood that looks like red paint.

The film follows the antics of a bunch of British soldiers sent into the Schloss Adler, a seemingly impregnable fortress atop a mountain in Austria. They are to recover a general whose plane has crashed and is being held captive in the mountainous retreat. However, they are also trying to ferret out a spy amongst them and, in the course of the rescue operation, they must use their wits to discover the double agent while still exacting the rescue and escaping in the nick of time.

"In your own idiom, you’re a punk… and a pretty second-rate punk at that."

If we can look through the war film clichés and see it as a high-flying adventure film, then Where Eagles Dare is very entertaining. The flaws in the plot don’t really seem to affect the film much leaving us with a genuinely entertaining goodies versus baddies movie in which we all know full well from the start how it will end.

  Video
Contract

This film transfer is unbelievable compared to my grainy old video copy. Darkness has been well captured and lit, leaving shadow detail good for the most part. Blacks are less black and more of a deeper grey while the rest of the colour palette is bright and clear. Not that there are bursts of blues and greens or anything, but the muddy earth tones come across cleanly and visibly. Flesh tones are okay and while there are naturally going to be film artefacts in a 1968 movie, these aren’t too disruptive overall. Mostly these take the form of black and white specks throughout, although there are occasional fibres and things.

Still, a pretty great transfer and one that is delivered in the full scale 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement.

  Audio
Contract

Apparently this soundtrack has been remastered into Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, but it doesn’t really do much by way of surrounding. Occasional sporadic gunfire echo or explosion reverb is about all and the subwoofer seems to spend much of the film quietly snoozing away to itself. However, the overall sound is crisp and sounds pretty good. There are the usual stock sound effects we find in older war movies (gunshots, explosions... polka music) but that’s to be expected.

Musically, the score by Ron Goodwin is full of militaristic triumphant British overtones and does well to suit the style of the film, however it may get a tad wearing by the final 20 minutes. Dialogue is all spoken in English, though we are to assume it is all in German. Being set in a German castle and told early in the film that all the crew members speak fluent German, this isn’t so hard a stretch. It is all well-spoken, however, and there aren’t many moments when we get confused. One notable difference is in the balances between music and dialogue. The music is louder than the dialogue and this keeps the volume control of your remote moving up and down quite frequently.

  Extras
Contract

Just two, but worth checking out. The first is the trailer which runs for 2:16. This is presented in 1.85:1 without enhancement and is pretty cool and fairly clean. It does contain spoilers though, so maybe after the film?

Our other extra is in a featurette which runs for 12:06 at 4:3. This has its fair share of film artefacts but generally is an interesting inclusion for its original interviews with Eastwood and Burton at the time of shooting. These seem to be culled from interviews and used as voiceovers while we go behind the scenes, but are still worth a look, particularly as Eastwood discusses his usual affinity for westerns over war films. Some film footage is included, but its soft-edged and in pan and scan and looks crap. Which suits the overall aged filmstock the whole featurette is in.

  Overall  
Contract

For fans of Eastwood or Burton, there are much worse films starring either man. Where Eagles Dare remains a pretty kickarse war movie with a couple of inert twists thrown in for good measure. Burton’s incredible voice does the film justice and it is he who does the majority of the talking and thinking throughout the course of events here. There’s even a little eye candy thrown in with a couple of beautiful female spies should attention waver momentarily (which it probably won’t).

The whole film is a good deal of fun and the actors obviously enjoy their roles, creating a fairly tense war/espionage film that stands up today as well as it ever has.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3765
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      And I quote...
    "This is still a pretty exciting war movie with some great action scenes and a fairly good story."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
          Akai
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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