Where Eagles Dare

Where Eagles Dare (1968)
"Broadsword calling Danny Boy. Broadsword calling Danny Boy."

World War II.

An Allied, US General with information critical to the war effort—detailed knowledge of the planned Second Front—has been shot down over German-held territory, high in the Austrian Alps, and taken to the Schloss Adler. The "Eagle's Nest"; so called because "only an eagle could get to it." An extraction team—six Brits, one American Ranger—is sent in to retrieve the General before he can be made to talk. Secrecy and stealth are to be their methods, hoped to succeed where a full-scale assault would surely fail.

Simple enough—but in this tale, nothing is what it seems.

First, the extraction team contains an eighth member, a woman smuggled aboard their transport plane without the knowledge of most of the rest of the team. Soon after the guys land, they discover that one of their number is dead. Did he break his neck in a bad parachute landing? Or was he murdered?

Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood lead the cast as Major John Smith and Lieutenant Schaffer. (For anyone noting the Major's name and thinking that the "Broadsword" and "Danny Boy" callsigns are from a Doctor Who episode—you haven't lived until you've heard Richard Burton doing his "Broadsword calling Danny Boy" lines!) The selected team are all experts in survival behind enemy lines; all speak fluent German—although apparently in British and American accents; no attempt is made to distinguish the language they are speaking. Fair enough, it's as valid approach as any other; I noticed it mostly because all the German officers were speaking (English) with clipped German accents.

Who can Smith and Schaffer trust? Is there a German agent in their midst? Who is the mysterious eighth member of the team? What is General Carnaby's secret? And how, with an entire German Army barracks between them and the impenetrable fortress, are they going to go Where Eagles Dare?

This is a classic British war movie, full of action, intrigue, lies and deception. From the life-or-death struggle atop the cable car, to the twists and turns of the scene in ths Schloss Adler's great hall, to the desperate shoot-outs and the many (many) explosions—all carried along by Ron Goodwin's amazing score—this is a film you just have to see. It is based on Alistair Maclean's novel—which I really must read!

IMDB: Where Eagles Dare

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