The Eagle Has Landed (1976)

PG   |    |  Adventure, Drama, Thriller


The Eagle Has Landed (1976) Poster

A German plot to kidnap Sir Winston Churchill unfolds at the height of World War II.

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6.9/10
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  • The Eagle Has Landed (1976)
  • Leigh Dilley in The Eagle Has Landed (1976)
  • The Eagle Has Landed (1976)
  • Larry Hagman in The Eagle Has Landed (1976)
  • Robert Duvall in The Eagle Has Landed (1976)
  • Donald Sutherland and John Sturges in The Eagle Has Landed (1976)

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9 October 2008 | Spikeopath
7
| It could make The Charge Of The Light Brigade look like military genius.
A small Norfolk village in England is suddenly the focal point for a Polish regiment's training exercise. It would seem they are not all they are saying they are, so with Winston Churchill due to visit the village, there is something seriously afoot.

Written by Jack Higins, directed by John Sturges {The Great Escape} and starring Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland and Robert Duvall, The Eagle Has Landed is a different sort of war movie. Flipping the axis to a German point of view and having English and American actors playing the Germans, is a bold move that, fluctuating accents aside, makes for a totally engrossing picture. Offering a fair bit more than your standard film of men on a suicide mission for the war effort, the piece's pulp origins, and its idyllic country setting give it a quality that ensures the viewers attention stays firmly with the film's steadily paced first half. Also adding intrigue into this already interesting broth is that our main Nazi protagonist is not down with the whole killing Jews thing. It's very sly in how it pans out, its not asking the audience to feel sympathy with Steiner {Caine professionally impacting}, it's just proclaiming that not all people should be tarred with the same brush.

Mostly the cast are fine and boosted by a brilliant turn from Donald Sutherland as an IRA spy helping the Germans, Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasance, Anthony Quayle, Jenny Agutter and Jean Marsh all are solid within the picture's structure. Oddly the performance of Larry Hagman as the appropriately named Colonel Pitts sticks out like a sore thumb, buffoonery in bravado intent it's difficult to tell if it's meant to be comic relief or a statement of how the British viewed the yanks at this time? A young Treat Williams as Capt. Harry Clark ensures that not all American soldiers in the film come off as dunderheads. Playing out more as a mystery with it's various twists and turns, and seeping with tension amidst the village folk, The Eagle Has Landed is an odd sort of picture, but it certainly delivers enough to make it way above average. 6.5/10

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Did You Know?

Trivia

There is a scene where Radl and Karl look at an ordnance survey map with a magnifying glass, at an area just southeast of present-day Wells-next-the-Sea. This seems to suggest that the filmmakers wanted "Studley Constable" to be located between Warham, Wighton, and Binham. This is only a few miles from Holkham, where the parachute drop was filmed. Reading of the book suggests the fictional village may have actually been based on nearby Cley next the Sea.


Quotes

Narrator: September 12, 1943, German paratroopers snatched Mussolini from his mountaintop prison in Italy.


Goofs

One of the Polish Jews curses in Finnish.


Alternate Versions

The new Region 2 DVD contains an extended cut of the film with a running time of 145 mins (25 fps). The additional scenes are:

  • 1. Different pre-title sequence with Himmler arriving at the castle seen in the opening credits. Himmler, Canaris and Hitler exit a meeting, where Himmler suggests the feasibility study of the Churchill kidnap plot to Canaris. This runs into the title sequence.
  • 2. After the scene between Radl and Canaris, Radl goes to his own office to find his doctor waiting for him. A conversation follows which suggests that Radl is terminally ill.
  • 3. Extension of the scene between Devlin and Joanna Grey where she gives him money for the trucks, warns him about stolen petrol and they toast the success of the mission. This is followed by Devlin riding through the village on his motorcycle, across the marsh, arriving at his cottage and looking around. This runs into the scene of Devlin arriving at the village pub.
  • 4. After the scene in the dunes between Devlin and Molly Prior, there is a scene between Steiner and Von Neustadt at the airfield where they discuss their chances of success.
  • 5. That scene runs into Devlin arriving at his cottage. He is joined by Molly Prior. They talk and Devlin reads poetry to her.
  • 6. After Devlin takes delivery of the trucks, he re-enters the cottage to find Molly there. She confronts him, mistakenly thinking he is a black marketeer. These two scenes make more sense of her later declaration of love for Devlin to Arthur Seymour.
  • 7. Directly after Himmler rips up Radl's letter, there is a short scene with Father Verecker reading a newspaper in the vestry of the church. He is surprised by Laker Armsby who enters via the tunnel (used by Devlin and Steiner later). This basically explains where it comes and goes to.

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Adventure | Drama | Thriller | War

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