The Eagle Has Landed
It seems World War II movies always attract the biggest, best casts, and John Sturges' 1977 The Eagle Has Landed is no exception. Based on the popular novel by Jack Higgins (which hints this story may be true, even though it's not), Robert Duvall stars as Nazi Colonel Max Radl, who is tasked with undertaking a "feasibility study" when Adolf Hitler buoyed by the successful commando rescue of Mussolini from his captors in Italy decides the German military should kidnap Winston Churchill from England and bring him to Berlin. Radl, an officer much more concerned with the practical nature of his job than the politics that surround it, decides that Colonel Kurt Steiner (Michael Caine), an English-educated Nazi officer with several successful missions to his credit, would be perfect for the undercover operation, even though he currently is in a German penal colony for openly disagreeing with the treatment of Jews in Germany. Led by Steiner (code name: "Eagle"), a small team of commandos prepares to drop into a remote coastal town in England, posing as Free-Polish troops, while Liam Devlin (Donald Sutherland), a former IRA operative, assists their entry into the country. But it's only a matter of time before the plot to get Churchill unravels, leaving the normally placid countryside host to a wayward company of highly motivated Nazis who must fashion an escape. Fans of classic war films probably have already seen The Eagle Had Landed, and it's a worthwhile spin for anybody who has enjoyed such mega-cast stuff as The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far. The actors turn in solid work, and even some supporting stuff is memorable, particularly Donald Pleasance as an eccentric Heinrich Himmler. Also starring Jenny Agutter, Larry Hagman, Treat Williams, Anthony Qualye, Jean Marsh, and John Standing. Artisan's DVD edition of The Eagle Has Landed offers the film in letterboxed widescreen, but with a few minor drawbacks. It's not anamorphic, and ironically it appears the telecine image (taken from an anamorphic source) is somewhat compressed, around 2.0:1 rather than the original 2.35:1, which means everybody's looking a bit thin. The source print is acceptable, with good color, but there is noticeable flecking, while audio is in the original Dolby 2.0 Surround. Also includes cast notes and extensive biographical information on Winston Churchill. Serious fans will enjoy the letterboxed presentation a good rental choice for everyone else. Keep-case.
(Editor's Note: We aren't totally sure just what version of The Eagle Had Landed this disc offers the Internet Movie Database lists a UK run-time of 134 minutes and a U.S. run-time of 123. Artisan's disc clocks in just over 132, so either two minutes are missing from the longer cut, or it's just a factual discrepancy and this is the entire film.)