Eagle Has Landed, The (1976)

The Eagle Has Landed (1976), directed by John Sturges.

A band of German commandos parachute into a small British village to kidnap Churchill. How this will help their war effort is never explained. Hitler and Himmler were impulsive.

Michael Caine is a "good German", in that he is insubordinate, hates the SS, doesn't respect Hitler, and makes foolishly heroic attempts to rescue the innocent. He and his men (who happily enter Valhalla in the end) are all hearty good fellows.

It's a decent attempt at wartime adventure but goes off the rails a couple of times. We spend too much time on rebel Irishman Donald Sutherland's love life. The lovely Jenny Agutter falls for him instantly and commits murder to protect him after knowing him for about a day. Just as the action is heating up we divert into an unfortunate comical interlude as clownish American soldiers are massacred uncomically.

In What's It All About? Michael Caine wrote that it was a great cast and he got on with the director until:


One day when I was talking to him between setups and he informed me that now that he was older, he only ever worked to get the money to go fishing, which was his passion. Deep-sea fishing of Baja, California, he added, which was very expensive. The moment the picture finished he took the money and went. [...] He never came back for the editing nor for any of the other post-production sessions that are where a director does some of his most important work. The picture wasn't bad, but I still get angry when I think of what it could have been with the right director.

The big guy who Donald Sutherland thrashes: his voice is obviously dubbed by Brian Blessed but I can't see any credits for him online.

Lalo Schifrin score.

The DVD is single layer, 4:3 letterboxed. The quality is about what you would imagine. I see it's available on on MPEG2 Blu-ray in the UK, said to be region free. (Later: a North American Blu-ray appeared).