Next Time Leave it to the Americans – Where Eagles Dare (1968)

by Peter on February 9, 2014


When I was young, my father and I started to watch all the movies that we could. This included the ones we already owned and the ones that we felt we needed to watch. The ones we did not own required a quick trip to the local book store like Borders or Barnes & Noble. Before we knew it we had quite the collection. My two favorite categories were the WWII movies and the Clint Eastwood movies, only a few which overlapped. I first saw Kelly’s Heroes (1970). That was about when I was in 3rd grade. A short while later I watched another, Where Eagles Dare (1968). From its opening music, the movie immediately captivated me. Here are my thoughts on Where Eagles Dare.

            The film starts with a classic militaristic drum beat that gets you standing at attention.  As you soar high above the Alps, a loud brass section kicks in, reminding me of the majestic parade march from Ben-Hur (1959). The entire opening score is reminiscent of the Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, which got me on the edge of my seat waiting for the inevitable thunderous bang of the cannons. The greatness ends right after the opening credits. Rather than the expected fusillade of explosions, we have to hear the boring back story. But, hey, it’s a British movie. An American film would have featured non-stop action to get you hooked.  Here is the short version of the boring back story; many British commandos are sitting in on a mission debriefing, the group is lead by Major John Smith, who is played by Richard Burton. At this time he was the most famous actor in the film and received the top-billing. There is one in the group who is American, Army Ranger Lieutenant Morris Schaffer, who is played by Clint Eastwood. The mission is to rescue an American General George Carnaby and return back to England. General Carnaby is located in Bavaria far behind enemy lines, so the team must parachute in from a disguised plane.

            One of my favorite scenes occurs after the team had landed. Smith and Schaffer stop at a supply depot to get whatever ammo and explosives they can find. A Nazi Patrol becomes suspicious and investigates the depot, but the two escape out the back window, leaving several little surprises for the patrol. [Spoiler Alert] There is a huge explosion and, fulfilling the promise of the opening theme, every nearby car and build explode as well. After some scouting of the area, we learn the the Nazis are holding the general in Hohenwerfen Castle. It’s a place only eagles dare to go. Schaffer is the explosive technician and on the way to the castle and while in the castle he lines everything with explosives. I don’t want to tell too much of the story, but there will be many explosions inside and outside of the castle, a suspenseful cable car scene, and a chase scene including a bus with a snowplow attached to it. I think if you enjoy a ton of explosions then you will enjoy these scenes too.

            Although, this isn’t the first movie most people would say if asked to name a Clint Eastwood movie, this is still an important movie to watch. Despite Clint Eastwood‘s reputation for violence in other films, his character kills more people in this film than any other Eastwood character. Also, it is one of the few times he is the sidekick in a movie. Not to mention, famed director, Steven Spielberg, voted this as his top war movie, mainly due to its sheer “boys own” factor of unreality. I think any war move fan will enjoy this movie, though if you are into action, adventure, or maybe even mystery, then you should check this movie out. Hope you enjoy, comment below with your thoughts, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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