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An American General (Robert Beatty) is shot down over German-occupied territory during WWII and taken hostage in the mountain-top castle headquarters of the SS. The General has secret D-Day intelligence and must be rescued before he talks. Major Smith (Richard Burton) and American Lieutenant Schaffer (Clint Eastwood) lead a highly trained commando unit on the dangerous mountain rescue mission. When loyalties are questioned amid double crosses and surprise revelations, the mission's real objectives become all the more dangerous. 

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
What a great old fashioned WWII movie this is! Okay, at two-and-a-half hours it's a tad long, and the slow first hour plants the seeds for the revelations and plot twists to come in the more exciting last hour and a half. 

But what do you expect from an Alistair MacLean pot boiler, adapted by the Scottish author himself (he also penned The Guns of Navarone, Force 10 From Navarone and Ice Station Zebra)? When the action comes, it's as good as any war movie gets, with the behind-enemy-lines commandos getting themselves into plenty of sticky situations - and somehow out again. At times this strains for credibility, as they sneak in and out of enemy bunkers without being noticed. Yet mostly it's an authentic inside look at the cloak and dagger tactics of war games, where secrets, lies and deception are unfortunately essential to winning wars.

Filmed in glorious 2.35:1 Panavision, cinematographer Arthur Ibbetson captures both the beauty and ruggedness of the Alps in it snowy whites and ice-blues, making the picture transfer one of the DVDs best features. A 16:9 screen is essential for this war adventure, if not for the aerial shots of the Alps or the action shots of Richard Burton fighting a Nazi atop a cable car, then for the steely stares of the great Clint Eastwood (age just 38 and in his first war film). Despite the Dolby Digital 5.1 format, the sound transfer lacks on both the high and low frequencies. 

Even with a high-tech receiver or amplifier, you may have to pump up the volume to hear those ear-cracking explosions, relentless machine guns, triumphant music and especially - tricky plot twists. There are just two extras on the disc, but both are worthwhile. The first, On Location: Where Eagles Dare, is a 12-minute archive footage piece that investigates the location limitations, production values and stunts. Included are brief interviews with Eastwood, Burton (who compares himself to Eastwood), Mary Ure (a staple Hammer Horror actress), and tid-bits such as how barmaid Heidi (Ingrid Pitt) had a real-life German escape of her own. Also included is a tribute to the scope of the film and the original widescreen trailer, proving that while's it's a traditional war flick, it was still state of the art. 

Published March 4, 2004

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(US, 1968)

CAST: Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Mary Ure, Patrick Wymark, Michael Hordern

DIRECTOR: Brian G Hutton

RUNNING TIME: 155 minutes

PRESENTATION: 2:35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Featurette, Theatrical Trailer


DVD RELEASE: March 3, 2004

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