Where Eagles Dare is a total “guy movie.” You know the type – it’s the sort of movie that was just made to be shown consistently on channels like Spike and TNT, for fathers to show to their sons as a form of bonding, for men to turn on in the background while they play poker and drink beer.

Where Eagles Dare, though, is also not really a particularly “good movie,” per se. I mean, I like it well enough, but let’s not kid ourselves – 90% of the movie is nothing but action scenes, and what little plot there is is needlessly overly complicated (one particular scene which reveals a series of both fake and real double-crosses almost requires a flow chart to follow). If this movie came out today, it would probably be savaged by the sort of movie snobs who instantly shit on anything Zack Snyder or Michael Bay do. Instead, it’s considered a classic. Funny how times change.

The real attraction, obviously, is watching stars Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood in action, but, well…let’s just say both have had better days. Burton’s performance is a perfect example of “going through the motions.” Eastwood, despite being the more charismatic of the two, is relegated to sidekick status – he really doesn’t get to say much (if he has more than 30 lines of dialog in the movie I’d be pretty surprised), and is sort of just around to kill a lot of Nazi’s at a fairly remarkable rate. Oh well, I guess there are worse ways to spend your time in a movie.

Off topic for a moment here – one of my favorite dumb things about this movie is how it involves Burton and Eastwood on a spy mission in which they pose as German officers, and yet neither makes any attempt to speak with a German accent when talking to the real Germans. Burton’s English accent is fairly apparent, and Eastwood’s American accent sure as hell is obvious, but either nobody notices or seems to care. Oh well.

This movie just is what it is. Like many other guys, I have a soft spot for these sort of “men on a mission” movies, and so I find myself entertained by Where Eagles Dare despite its rather obvious flaws. If you’re in the mood for a movie that is literally almost nothing but explosions, shooting, stabbing and escaping, then you can’t really go wrong here. The entire last hour or so is almost nothing but an extended chase/battle between the heroes and the Nazi’s. It’s all great fun, even if it’s not exactly deep. Oh, and it’s also one of the earliest performances of future Hammer Horror queen Ingrid Pitt, so it has that going for it.

One more off topic aside to finish up – there’s a pretty amusing moment midway through the film when both Burton and Eastwood have to scale up a castle wall using a rope. Burton goes first, and seems to do so easily, barely breaking a sweat and gliding right up. Eastwood follows, and appears to struggle the whole way. The reason for this is that Eastwood, the younger and fitter of the two, actually did the rope climb for real, whereas Burton’s alcohol-induced poor health meant he was aided by a special crane that pulled him up. I can’t know for sure, but I bet Burton probably got a slight kick out of the fact that, because of this, he actually looks like the stronger of the two in the movie, despite the opposite being the truth.

This review was originally posted on June 3rd, 2011 at Trevor Likes Movies.