Currently streaming free on Tubi and available on Amazon is a 1976 America-hating World War II movie aimed at soothing the feelings of everyone whose country either bullied World War II into happening or needed help staving off the Third Reich. This bad movie has such hate for America you will sound like a Fox News Opinion Host no matter how liberal you may be. If all you care about is if Michael Caine blinks- the answer seems to be “NO.”
This movie debuts its basic theory in maudlin fashion early. It becomes immediately clear the message of this movie is “Most German soldiers were just the nicest guys ever.” The Eagle Has Landed is a spiteful title relating to America’s Apollo Space program. It gets out of it’s depth in its first five minutes and never recovers. The Super Nice Nazi who gives no fucks is rolled out in maybe the least appropriate scene about the Holocaust ever. Then you realize you’ve got just over two horrible hours left of the worst World War II story ever. It dutifully keeps on getting worse the whole time.
In this movie “Good Nazis” lead by Caine undertake an operation planned by another “Good Nazi” played by Robert Duvall. The idiotic plan is to kidnap Churchill. The movie, set in midsummer, is later said to have taken place during the Yalta Conference- which was in February. So that’s our bar for accuracy.
Mediocre to bad sets are just the tip of the iceberg. Gallantly portrayed Nazi’s and terrorists outfoxing, killing and screwing the idiotic Irish villagers (played by Londoner brits not even trying to do an accent) keep this movie from ever really achieving immersion. Maybe there was a rule that no one was allowed to have a better fake Irish Accent than Sutherland- who is a parody of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun the whole time.
The “Good Nazi’s” are largely successful til they screw up- by being too nice.
They’re then up against the incompetent comic relief Americans led by the great Larry Hagman. He’s playing the role of idiot to the hilt, but this character typifies the movies problems.
Hagman’s American colonel is in command of the only real Allied force in the area and they are said to be shorthanded for the task of protecting Churchill. He’s shown as paranoid because he (rightly) suspects that the security for Churchill is subpar. The fact he’s concerned about being shorthanded, isolated and perfectly set up for a possible assassination attempt on an Allied Leader- which is pretty much right on- is shown as fussiness and bluster. This is completely out of touch with the fact the daring mission was planned precisely because of the facts Hagman states. His correct assessment is shown as a somewhat panicked rant. So Germans with a kooky plan are heroic and gallant but the Americans who deduce it, really out of thin air, are just paranoid, gung-ho cowboys. It’s ridiculous.
Let’s just recall the location of the operation, repeatedly said to be some place in Ireland- where they would have loved to have killed ANY British PM even if their hadn’t been a war- was a terrible security risk for Churchill. Ireland was far more well disposed to the Germans than the British during the War- so I guess this is in the most royalist part of Northern Ireland?
The simpleton villagers are in no way a problem for the charming Germans; in fact they very quickly play right into their hands. It’s outright stupid. Donald Sutherland just drinks, quips and fucks his way around the town as a mysterious newcomer over his maybe 3 days in the area. His character is completely insufferable and just maybe he’s a bit drunk in this mailed in performance.
It’s highly unlikely a sketchy anti-British guy creeping around would ever have been a huge deal in 1945 Ireland. Many Irish considered the British a beligerrant, occupying power. In fact during the War Armed Irish Republican Unification groups were always a wildcard the Germans simply failed to utilize.
The underlying idea driving the plot of this movie is the Security for Churchill pretty much does suck. This is also an absolutely terrible place for a British PM to just hang out. We need this to be true for the German’s faith in their mission to be believable, they think they might be able to pull it off. The movie kind of wants you to root for them, too.
In other words- the American colonel played by Hagman is correct even if he is mocked for it by the movie. They dunk on the American Colonel over and over, making light of his (correct) concern for Churchill and presenting his very logical initiative as mere love of war and a rookie mistake. It strains credulity. There’s just WEEKS left in this war- how many Rookies were left?
In the end Hagman gets a comical, villains death at the hands of an unlikable female German spy who drills him between the eyes. It’s all played for laughs, including when the private – the only other soldier there, “panics” and “overkills” the Gestapo agent.
Again- in this movie the villains death goes to an American whose ‘crime’ is that he’s eager to do his duty and had summed up what was happening correctly- for which he was shown as paranoid. He’s then comically gunned down. The soldier who fires back at the Gestapo Murderer engaged in a plot to kidnap Churchill is shown as kind of panicking. Its not shown like it should have been- ‘Evil Nazi who kills people gets theirs.’ Instead it’s the movies laugh stinger. So you can see why this piece of crap spent weeks at number one in (West) Germany.
This movie was so not worth any of my time or the time it took to sit through the commercials. The ending isn’t as smart as it thinks, which is really the story of this movie. There’s not even a decent amount of classic vehicles or war equipment to distract. Throw in bad sound design, what seems like a leftover soundtrack from another movie that was just lying around and lots of bad action scenes to move this dog along.
The truth is, this movie, released during America’s Bicentennial, was just a hit of pure crack for detoxing America-haters who could no longer cheer on the Viet Cong. Im also sure the rest of the world was fed up with the multi-year Patriotic celebration- but the screenwriter was an American, which I guess washed off the disdain the movie has for the US.
The Eagle Has Landed is really just an anti-American, anti- military, opportunistic post Vietnam hit piece. Who would guess the same writer would give us Superman and Superman 2 just a few years later? He seems like a hack here.
How stupid is this movie? The middle is a disingenuous mess that refuses to concede to reality. They German’s are just the nicest guys ever. When things go wrong it’s because they are just too nice and they are fine with it. Their potentially war winning mision is irreparably compromised by a random twist of fate- caused by pure altruism. These nazis are so nice it scuttled their mission, and they just accept it.
In this kooky movie we mourn hardened nazis and laugh at the Allies ‘misguided’ attempt to win World War II. I guess it’s part of the payback on ‘American Pride’ that one of Caine’s main lieutenants is played by the same German actor who played the fatalistic Wehrmacht Intel Officer from far better movie PATTON. He’s a bit too old for paratrooper duty, but compared to the German who wistfully plays the church organ from time to time he’s a breath of fresh air. This movie was released just two years after the fall of Saigon. It’s not just having fun giving America a ribbing- it’s poorly timed, mean spirited and spiteful.
The inversion of reality is so complete that all nations militaries fight hard and honorably- except the bumbling Americans – who just so happen to have won the Western European part of the war in REAL Life. While it wasn’t important they be the heroes, dunking on the Americans and making them comic relief just to give this bad movie some dark humor was too much.
It’s not hilarious to portray the attempt by the Americans to free the innocent hostages as an incompetent, pointless waste of life. In sheer defiance of reality a few bursts of light machine fire just devastate the Americans. This is where the movie really starts getting offensive.
If at some point in World War II a small invasion of Ireland actually had resulted in a lot of Americans getting killed (but not quitting) in a prolonged fight to free innocent civilians held by hostile, armed Nazis in a Church there would be A STATUTE to their sacrifice! Instead it’s shown as a triumph for the Germans.
Only the viewers know these Germans are too nice to hurt anyone. We just kill a bunch of Americans very easily in the comic ‘rescue’ scene. The thing thats supposed to be funny is the Americans are trying to stop Nazis from killing innocent townsfolk. This is much more heroic than funny if you think about it. It’s tone-deaf and insensitive.
Along with Sutherland and Duvall, old pal Donald Pleasance are in the mix. Pleasance is great as Himmler, but Sutherland just cant make his bad character work. To be fair a drunken, nazi loving, murdering horndog who faces no consequences is hard to make sympathetic. Duvall doesn’t take much damage, but he’s not mixed into the story well in his extended cameo.
You’ll wish this mission had crashed on takeoff. Caine’s performance isn’t as bad as the movie itself – but just because he delivered his lines well doesn’t make the dialogue any less stupid or offensive.
The 15th highest grossing movie of 1976, it was blown out of theaters by a little movie called STAR WARS.
SKIP THIS PIECE OF GARBAGE!
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