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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Recently viewed: "The Eagle Has Landed"

Filmed in 1976, this is the movie version of the Jack Higgins novel.  Directed by John Stuges (his last film), it has some strengths, though it isn't as good as some of his other movies (The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven).  As with the novel, it concerns the German's plan to land paratroopers in a remote English village, which is due a visit from Winston Churchill.  I really liked Robert Duvall as Col. Stadl, and Donald Pleasance gives a nicely chilling performance as Himmler.  There's a ton of familiar faces here (Larry Hagman in what is almost a comic role as the blustery American Ranger, Jennay Agutter, Jean Marsh and a young Treat Williams).  I didn't like Donald Sutherland's Liam Devlin, though that's really more an issue with the character than the actor I think.  Michael Cain is fine, though his accent is a bit of a problem (though his character was supposed to be educated in England).

The English village gives some great scenery, and Stuges handles the action well.  As with the book, most of the plot is told through the German's eyes.

Differences between the book and movie include: 
the book has a framing device (with the author finding out about the incidence)
there's no mention of Stiener's father being held by the Gestapo
there's no doublcross of Devlin by the black marketeers (and thus no mention of Scotland's Yard Special Branch tracking Devlin down)
in the movie Molly (the lass that falls in love with Devlin) shoots the villager Aurthur Seymour
Cain's Stiener actually succeeds by shooting "Churchill" in the movie before he is killed (the "surprise" revelation is handled after the shooting in the movie, whereas it's handled in the framing story in the book)

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