The Night of the Generals (1967)
The Night of the Generals (1967)
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as Major Grau
as General Tanz
as Gen. Kahlenberge
as Inspector Morand
as Eleanore von Seidlit...
as Col. Sandauer
as Field Marshal Rommel
as Colonel in war room
as Otto's Wife
as Von Stauffenberg
as Capt. Engel
as Gov. Stupnagel
as Tanz's Driver
as Col. Mannheim
as Gen. von Seydlitz-Ga...
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Audience Reviews for The Night of the Generals
Well acted but overlong drama.
Unlike the hint that it's a zombie movie about undead generals, this totally awesome murdery-mystery/WW2 military plotting piece is a unique and fascinating story. The idea of weaving a murder mystery into the July 20th plot to murder Hitler is interesting on its own, but the overall execution of the story is fantastic. You have Peter O'Toole being scary as hell as one of the possible suspects in the murder case, Omar Sharif as the investigating German officer looking into the murder, then Donald Pleasance and Charles Gray as two other suspects who may also be up to something far grander than the murder of a prostitute. There's also the supporting characters of one of the Generals' daughters and a young Lance-Corporal, along with a French Resistance informant, and a few more to help give the film weight and depth.
In fact, a great deal of time is spent in many of the various pieces of plot, which is fascinating because it never comes off as really too bloated. Sure, it may detract from the film if it was only about the plot to kill Hitler. But it's not. The true heart of the story is mostly about the wounds of the war affecting the German soldiers. Some go mad (in the case of the killer), some become monsters, some are turned into heroes to help the military save face, and some begin to find ways to get out of the mess altogether. It also expands on this by showing us post-war sequences, but I will speak no more of this for spoiler reasons.
This diverse range of views and personalities really helps elevate the film above the typical WW2 spy/mystery, especially because one of the issues of doing a story around the Stauffenberg Plot is knowing exactly how it ends already so how do you make it interesting? This movie solves the problem by making it a story about the various stories, characters, and pieces that make the big deal a backdrop for people's lives.
Although a tad on the long side (148 minutes - yikes!), Night of the Generals breezes on by most of the time. A lot of details are required to flesh out the story, especially the smaller scenes used to texture the film and press specific feelings on the audience (particularly the moments between O'Toole and Tom Courtenay), so although some may find it a bit dull or slow to the point at times, there's definitely a specific sense of either being guided by the filmmaker in some scenes or simply being allowed to soak in what these various aspects of life were like. You definitely get a strong sense of "being there" - especially from the very blunt and frank dialogue.
That leads to the best thing I found about the film - it's surprisingly modern. The editing is quite tight, transitions are fast, and there's an increasing sense of realism in the way the characters interact as the movie progresses. You don't feel the disconnection of cliche, of time, of "industry standards" as is sometimes the problem with old WW2 movies. A modern audience today could relate to many of these characters, I think. And the overall flow of the script itself feels more like a very well-written story rather than a rigid structure, which is something you don't see today anymore. On top of this, the way the film handles the psychological elements, the serial killer stuff, is very striking. That it makes it abundantly clear the victims are prostitutes who've had their sex organs stabbed repeatedly (not visually, of course), as well as the sequences of madness in the killer himself, are pretty spot-on and make the picture stand out from the usual films in the genre.
I guess that's the best way to leave it. It stands out well, making itself a unique and fantastic piece to see for fans of WW2 movies and fans of good mystery thrillers. Definitely recommended. :)
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