[box cover]

Where Eagles Dare

After an important U.S. general crash-lands in Axis territory, the English send in Maj. Jonathan Smith (Richard Burton) with a team of British agents and American Ranger Lt. Morris Schaffer (Clint Eastwood) to rescue the officer from the Nazis. He's being kept in a heavily fortified castle, and the men have to sneak in and out undetected. Hampering this is what becomes apparent to Smith shortly after the operation begins: Someone among their ranks is a mole. Smith and Schaffer get into the castle with the help of female spies Mary Elison (Mary Ure) and Heidi (Ingrid Pitt) and some dynamite, but they find that, the further they go along, the mission is not what Schaffer was led to expect. Based on a story from Guns of Navarone scribe Alistair MacLean, Where Eagles Dare (1968) follows the men on a mission formula of Guns and The Dirty Dozen — all revolve around compromising an impregnable stronghold, and the film has similar scenes of men executing plans and then having to think on their feet to improvise a solution. Directed by Brian G. Hutton, Where Eagles Dare is rather derivative of those earlier efforts, but it's no matter. It's a fun little adventure movie wherein Burton and Eastwood have to outsmart (or outshoot) the Nazis every step of the way, and if you like this kind of movie, it's hard not to be entertained by this effort — the crosses and double-crosses keep coming. In fact, what may be most disappointing about the picture is that it's really Burton's show, with Eastwood playing second fiddle to the British thespian. Surprisingly, Burton (an actor known for phoning his cinematic performances in more often than not) is on the clock here and does a good job playing his spy games. But it's these crosses and double-crosses that lead to one of the minor problems with the film: There are a couple of scenes where the heroes give long speeches about what their motivations are and what's going on, and this for a picture that's already a bit long in the tooth (156 minutes). Part of Warner's "Clint Eastwood Collection," Where Eagles Dare is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras consist of a 13-minute behind-the-scenes featurette from the era and the theatrical trailer. Snap-case.

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