|Star:||Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Treat Williams, Jenny Agutter, Robert Duvall|
|Cert / Year:||15 - PG / 1976|
It is 1944 a few weeks before D-day and the Germans are about to embark on a mission that could change the direction of the war. They have discovered that Churchill will be staying in a hall near a small English village by the channel coast. Seizing the opportunity they send Col. Kurt Steiner and his elite paratroopers to either assassinate or kidnap him. They may be expendable and the mission may be desperate but if they succeed the result for the allies would be unthinkable.
Ok so this war film isn't based on fact, but rather based around the sort of plans hatched by both sides during the war, thus it is a plausible what if movie. The film is structured more like a thriller than a war film with no major battles and a small village setting. This is not necessarily a bad thing in fact it is refreshingly different.
The plot is original but maybe slightly flawed. It is never made clear just how these Germans plot to kill Churchill. Yes they have a plan to land and masquerade as polish paratroopers but after that they get rather stuck hanging around the small village. The whole plot seems a little haphazard with no explanation as to why the games warden spy character is required at all (given the fact that they already have an agent in the village). It is interesting to see the German political backstabbing behind the plan but it is neither this nor the accident that reveals the Germans identity that causes the plan to fail more that there wasn't much of a plan to start with.
Michael Caine is very good as the not so evil German hero (all bit it a very English sounding one). However Donald Sutherland is nothing short of annoying with his ridiculous accent, his pointless character and that daft dog-charming trick, but all of this pails into insignificance when compared to the farcical romantic sub plot between his character and Jenny Agutter's. Never have to characters been so incompatible, or lacking in chemistry it just plain doesn't work. Luckily Larry Hagman's wannabe hero Colonel adds a comic element and Treat Williams mange's to be heroic enough to stand up to Michael Caine. Not the biggest name cast in the world but bar Donald Sutherland it works ok.
There are moments in the film that are rather good. The gunfight in the church is small scale but good fun, and Robert Duvall's conversations with Donald Pleasance Himmler are just great. Donald Pleasance seems to be having a great time in the role and is about the best thing in the film. Plus I have already mentioned that Michael Caine and Treat Williams do a great job between them.
The Eagle has Landed is a pretty good wartime thriller. Ok so its more Dads Army than The Longest Day, but it has a fine cast and an interesting story. It a shame that the plot has not come across too well, and that the romantic subplot is so badly handled, but it still doesn't manage to ruin the film. Donald Sutherland does come close with his superfluous annoying gamekeeper but the lead actors manage to save the game. This is not a movie you run out to watch more of one that will provide welcome entertainment on a Sunday afternoon.
In 1943 sixteen German paratroopers landed in England. In three days they nearly won the War.
Admiral Canaris: This operation could make the Charge of the Light Brigade look like a sensible military exercise!
Captain Clark: Colonel, there's no such thing as death with honor, just death.
Colonel Kurt Steiner: I have no intention of dying now. But if I'm going to, allow me to choose where and how.