Where Eagles Dare - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Where Eagles Dare Reviews

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Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ July 5, 2014
"Love lift us up where we belong, where the eagles dare, on the mountain... there!" No, forget that, let's go with, "the blizzard goes on, but still they must fly! No one should go where eagles dare!" Yeah, sorry, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes, but we need a more edgy song reference for a discussion regarding a war film starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood, which is why I'm sticking with Iron Maiden... you know, because they never get cheesy. Actually, that's a perfect reference, because considering that this is a Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood war film, it should be every bit as heavy metal as Iron Maiden typically is, and considering that it still came out in the '60s, it should also get to be as cheesy as Iron Maiden can get. I don't know if the era would so much defuse dramatic momentum, as much as it would be the fact that, at this time, Brian G. Hutton was also gearing up to make "Kelly's Heroes", which made a joke out of war, over the excessive course of almost two-and-a-half hours. This film is over two-and-a-half hours long, and it isn't even a comedy, at least as far as '60s films were concerned (Okay, this film isn't nearly that dated), but at least it has plenty of things to keep you entertained, though not enough to compensate for the shortcomings.

With all my jokes about dated dramatics of the '60s, this film has quite a bit of edge to it, yet not exactly to its narrative itself, which follows formula and, along the way, makes matters worse by hitting conventional, almost trite dialogue, if not characterization that is lacking is to begin with. This drama really is about the mission, so it wastes so little time in firing right in that, beyond the mission, immediate development is hardly touched upon in a script that goes on to have hold the audacity to say very little about the well-portrayed and somewhat memorable, but formulaically and thinly drawn characters, and take its time to say so little. Running over two-and-a-half hours in length, this film is simply too blasted long to place only so much attention to exposition and material, near-monotonously meandering along filler, if not some ultimately inconsequential plot layers so recurrently that momentum which should be consistently slick ends up rarely picking up to really, really entertain. Needless to say, it doesn't help that Brian G. Hutton's directorial storytelling hits its share of slow spells, with quiet, or at least thoroughly atmospheric spots that rarely retard momentum so greatly that dullness sets in, while engagement value is lost for an extended period of time, but still has a tendency to bland things up with its questionable thoughtfulness over thin material found both in Alistair MacLean's script and in concept. Once again, this drama is really about the mission, not the thematic and dramatic weight or scope of war, simply high-caliber military men who, for the sake of national security during wartime, take on a task that is rich in visceral tension, but even conceptually lacking in dramatic tension, no matter how much ambition is placed in the relatively minimalist story concept's interpretation. This ambition, of course, begets inspiration that goes quite a ways in driving this film as entertaining and reasonably compelling, perhaps to where the final product could have rewarded, despite its natural shortcomings, were it not for the consequential shortcomings, which render the final product formulaic, thinly drawn, draggy and all around underwhelming. Of course, the final product just barely falls short of what it could have been, delivering more than adequately of respectable strengths, even in production value.

Peter Mullins' art direction is pretty solid, doing close to nothing unique with its restoration of more remote regions occupied by the Nazis during WWII, but still doing enough to distinguish the time in an almost attractive manner, at least beyond a lovely, snowy backdrop that colors up visuals almost as much as smashing action, limited though it may be in quantity. As far as quality is concerned, the action stands out, with tense tighter sequences and grand, technically impressive pieces of broader scale that mark highlights in establishing a sense of consequence to a story whose consequentiality is more limited in concept than it probably should be as a war thriller. With that said, there is still some juice to salvage in the basic idea behind this film, which is genuinely intriguing in its tense study on military spies taking on a mission of great consequence, despite only fair cinematic consequence, often genuinely flavored up by highlights in Alistair MacLean's conventional, undercooked and overdrawn script which include some snappy dialogue and even plenty of surprisingly audacious set pieces that aren't afraid to reinforce what edge there is. There's plenty of bite to this film on paper, and when it comes to execution by director Brian G. Hutton, although many a hiccup is hit, thoughtfulness that thrives on quiet intensity, if not the tonal quality of Ron Goodwin's solid, if conventional score, upon finding material to draw upon, engages pretty commendably, particularly when tensions really arrive, handled with a kick was almost uncommon for films of the time. Its violence edgy and its atmosphere subtle, the intensity of this drama is typically pretty raw, highlighting an entertainment value which rarely abates to the point of losing you, and ultimately carries enough color to engage through and through. What endears about as much as anything is, of course, a cast full of charismas, most all of whom all but pale in comparison to the charisma of the subdued Richard Burton and the gritty Clint Eastwood, who also share a certain chemistry that makes the central leads particularly memorable, in spite of thin characterization. Yes, for every strength there is a shortcomings, thus, the final product falls short, but only of rewarding, to which it comes close enough to entertain and compel serviceably with a respectable, if limited array of strengths.

Bottom line, hardly anything new is done here, and only so much of anything at all is said about the characters, despite an excessive structure whose slow spells are made all the more bland by cold spells in direction and natural shortcomings to the story concept, which are ultimately to difficult to ignore for the sake of reward value, enough glimpses of which are seen through solid immersion value and action, decent and often edgy writing and direction, and plenty of charismatic performances - particularly those by Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood - to make Brian G. Hutton's "Where Eagles Dare" a somewhat inconsequential, but ultimately perfectly decent and often tense military thriller.

2.75/5 - Decent
June 9, 2014
One of the best so-called commando/strike force movies ever made. Plus Clint Eastwood is so cool he even has a magic pistol with unlimited ammo than runs out only when a villain get's a hold of it. That was cool.
April 18, 2014
Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood make a great team as they race in the heart of Germany trying to rescue a captured American General. Harrowing actions sequences and an unforgettable score by Ron Goodwin make this one of the best WWII adventure films.
½ April 16, 2014
good WWii actioner post WWII
April 14, 2014
One of the best war movies
March 9, 2014
still a classic war movie, richard burton & clint eastwood are fantastic,lots of action,only down side is clint's american accent when he is supposed to be a german officer

classic,one of the best wwII films ever,complex story lots of gunfights & a couple of decent stunts
burton & clint work well together its a shame they did'nt do more films together
February 20, 2014
Terrible special effects almost ruined this movie for me. Vehicles blow up from their passenger compartments without cause. Rubber dummies fly through windshields after forward momentum had stopped. Blood looks like finger paint and f/x plates can be seen through uniforms when actors get shot. I also prefer German characters to speak German. That's why we have subtitles. This is far from being one of the better WWII movies.
½ January 31, 2014
WHERE EAGLES DARE is a magnificent, great piece of entertainment. It is consistently thrilling from one end to the other. The film manages to mix belivablity and cartoonish impossiblity so deftly and seamlessly that its hard not to be entertained by the real highlights of the movie, including the exceptional plotting and great action sequences.

A British intelligence officer (played by the amazing Welsh actor Richard Burton) and an American Ranger (played by Clint Eastwood) lead a commando team to rescue an American general in a fortified German castle during World War II. At least that's what it starts out as- that's only one layer on this multi-layered plot, which has many twists and turns; the film turns out to be very intricate and as a result, it becomes more believable as a crazy tale of suspense and espionage, rather than just another simple overblown spectacle.

The film is rather violent for a late 1960's film- I'm surprised it got a PG rating. Just pointing that out as a fault on the MPAA's part. That doesn't affect the film at all; it's still quality entertainment.
January 11, 2014
Clint Eastwood: American badass. In the past, he has hypothesized on the number of bullets in a revolver, been involved in numerous final shoot-outs in countless classic westerns, and has directed several movies that are just as good as the ones he has acted in. So why in the world should he end up playing second fiddle to some fucking redcoat? Where Eagles Dare is a WWII film that you've probably never heard of, and for a very good reason. From the get-go, it's clear that this story about a conspiracy within British intelligence focuses only on the stunning feats of Richard Burton, and completely glosses over Clint Eastwood's whole character. Why was Eastwood even in it? Probably only so that it would make some money in America, where nobody gives a shit about badass British people.

Personal biases aside, this is still not a very good movie. There are about 400 different scenes in which people are packing, saying identical dialogue, or speaking English with a group of Nazis. This thing could have been pared down quite a bit, but as it is with most films of its era, very little was left on the cutting room floor. This leaves us with a bloated running time that consists mostly of Burton blowing shit up, all the while attempting to get Clint Eastwood after a buttload of awkward situations. It's like a tame version of every cliched and generic action movie made nowadays, and it's incredibly dumbed down. Also, it features one of the cardinal sins of mystery filmmaking, in an ending where the main character sits all the other characters down to "Figure out what's going on and find out who's who." Wow, the genericness. It hurts. I couldn't write something that bad if I tried.

Final Score for Where Eagles Dare: 4/10 stars. Sure, the acting is okay, but Eastwood is given nearly nothing to do, and Burton's character is such an invincible badass that it completely detaches the audience from him. A skilled editor needs to go back to this movie and edit it down to a thrilling one hour and 45 minutes run-time. Or it should just be remade, starring Simon Pegg and Chris Hemsworth. Because this is a story worth telling, even if this movie is bad on nearly every level. It's totally stuck in its time, and unfortunately that time is not WWII-- it's the 1960s. As soon as a woman shows up, you know when the movie was made, because every single movie from the 60s features women in done-up hair and purple eyeshadow, regardless of how historically inaccurate this might be. It could have been good, but sadly, Where Eagles Dare is a hopelessly generic piece of shit that forces Clint Eastwood into second billing under a fucking Brit. How dare they.
January 3, 2014
broadsword calling Danny boy....
January 1, 2014
My all time favorite WWII action movie. Highly recommended. The musical score alone is grand. Not to mention Burton and Eastwood are exceptional .
December 26, 2013
THE best WWII film ever, even if it is fiction!
December 19, 2013
Spectacular scenery, great actors!
December 4, 2013
Some classic action of the highest quality. accion de la mejor calidad, un clasico
½ November 29, 2013
It's a good movie. Though it is based purely on fiction, the make-believe depiction of the scenes makes it worth viewing. The main roles played by Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood did justice to their reputation. Overall a good movie indeed.
½ November 16, 2013
The minute a woman is in the scene you are immediately back in the 60's - hair, make-up and even skirts above the knee and low low necks inappropriate incredibly off kilter for the time - as well as anything colorful... no one in those days but Gestopo riche had good material. That is only the nit-picky part. There are so many inconsistencies the editor must have been pulling his hair out after he was sober.
½ November 8, 2013
Interesting but to me unfortunately quite boring.
November 7, 2013
Engaging, I must say! Richard Burton's Major Smith won't be regarded as british superspy James Bond but he pulled off an awesome MI6 agent, cool, suave and efficient! Clint Eastwood was there, doing Eastwoody things as usual. Unfortunately, there was nothing much from the rest of the cast, they just got overshadowed by Burton. The effects were pretty stunning considering the time the movie was released. Overall, a brillaint entertainer.
September 28, 2013
Excellent plot and well executed movie.
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