Monday, February 10, 2014

"Eagle Has Landed," on the other hand, is a masterpiece

Following on yesterday's post, I got to thinking about really good WW2 movies, and came up with one of my favorites. The film in question is "The Eagle Has Landed," 1976, with the brilliant cast of Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, Michael Caine, Larry Hagman, Anthony Quayle, and Donald Pleasence (as an eerily good Himmler). It keeps you on the edge of that proverbial seat all the way, even though you know the main event-the kidnapping of Winston Churchill, a la rescue of Mussolini, by German commandos-never happened. This is the kind of movie George Clooney was trying to make, with "The Monuments Men," but failed. You may have gathered that I like it. Highly recommended. Sutherland's best performance, by the way. Duvall, of course, is never less than excellent. The underrated Quayle is superb as Admiral Canaris, head of the Abwehr (Military Intelligence). And Jean Marsh, from "Upstairs Downstairs," has a vivid and unforgettable role. But it's Sutherland's subplot with the lovely Jennie Agutter of "Railway Children" fame that really resonates; his character is memorable and, although at first a bit of a cliche (drunken Irish poet), evolves into a really outstanding role (drunken Irish poet who is also a military hero and inspired lover). 

I couldn't find the full movie, but here's one of the great scenes (scroll down), in which Caine's honorable German officer, Oberst Kurt Steiner, confronts the SS, and doesn't give an inch. This is the kind of hero we'd all like to be.

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