Chest-thumping gung-ho action as a group of commandos set out to rescue an allied officer from an impregnable Nazi fortress.
A less serious and more popcorn-friendly take on WWII, Where Eagles Dare has stonking battles, heroes dangling from cable cars, huge explosions and any number of other camp clichés.
Written from scratch by the thriller author Alistair MacLean in six weeks flat, the movie was commissioned at Burton’s request after his own stepson expressed a wish to see him in an old-fashioned action-adventure, growing tired of seeing him being querulous in an old cardigan.
An elite group of paratroopers including British agent Major John Smith (Richard Burton), American Lieutenant Morris Schaffer (Clint Eastwood) and five other troops are dispatched on a daredevil mission into the Bavarian Alps: to rescue important American General Carnaby – who is reportedly in possession of the D-Day plans – from the hands of German High Command at the Schloss Adler castle.
From the moment they parachute behind enemy lines disguised as Nazi commandos, it becomes apparent that they face not only the might of the German army but also a traitor in their midst.
Assisting the infiltrators are undercover double agents Mary (Mary Ure) and Heidi (Ingrid Pitt), who aid Smith and Schaffer in infiltrating the Nazi fortress high in the Alps.
This is pulsating high-budget entertainment containing a marvellous series of ingenious plot twists and spectacular action sequences including hand-to-hand combat on a cable car high in the Bavarian Alps and the destruction of the Oberhausen air base by a school bus.
Plus it is headlined by a pre-stardom Clint Eastwood, who humbles the Jerries with his very best squinty-eyed glares.
Eastwood fans will gleefully tell you that his character kills more people in this film than any other. What more could you ask?
Director Brian G. Hutton has the good sense not to take the movie too seriously.
Maj. Jonathan Smith
Lt. Morris Schaffer
Col. Wyatt Turner
General George Carnaby
Capt. James Christiansen
Capt. Philip Thomas
Sgt. Jock MacPherson
SS Standartenfuhrer Kramer
SS Sturmbannfuhrer Von Hapen
Brian G. Hutton