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USA 1976
Directed by
John Sturges
123 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
David Michael Brown
3 stars

The Eagle Has Landed

Synopsis: World War II may have almost ended but Hitler wants to kidnap Winston Churchill and bring him back to Nazi Germany. The Germans discover that he will be making a visit to a small village in Norfolk. Colonel Jurt Steiner (Michael Caine), a military hero, objects to the Nazi treatment of the Jews and is sent on this foolhardy mission as punishment. Posing as Polish soldiers the German paratroopers make their plans and all that stands in Der Fuhrer's way is a small American garrison and the local Norfolk villagers.

Based on a novel by Jack Higgins, The Eagle Has Landed was director John Sturges's final film. With films such as The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape on his résumé he attracted an all-star cast to his East Anglian war epic. Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, Donald Sutherland, Jenny Agutter, Donald Pleasance, Larry Hagman, Anthony Quayle and Treat Williams star in this entertaining military romp.

Presented by Lew Grade it's a boys own adventure full of "daring do," dodgy German accents and a preposterous plot line but its great fun and a must for fans of 70s war film. If you liked The Wild Geese you'll love The Eagle Has Landed. Despite a slow-building opening all hell breaks loose when the Germans are discovered after a soldier is killed on a water mill.

The cast does exactly what is expected from them; Caine is heroic, Sutherland is charming, Pleasance is malevolent and Hagman is mad. Interestingly the film is told from the Germans' perspective so the audience is asked to cheer on the Nazis, probably the main reason why Caine's character is shown to have complete disregard for his superiors.

The music by Lalo Schiffrin is excellent, glimpses of many of his legendary scores can be heard; Dirty Harry, Bullitt and Enter the Dragon all make aural cameos. The dialogue is witty, especially from the locals coming to terms with their new German captives and the British locations add a different look to almost all other war films of this kind.

The film's twist ending is a bit weak and won't surprise too many viewers but it's all good clean fun, harking back to the days when the star power involved were more interested in making a cracking piece of entertainment than coddling their celebrity egos.

FYI:The original UK print had a run time of 135 minutes.




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