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Although I am a big fan of WHERE EAGLES DARE ($20), even I have to admit that the movie is a bit long and convoluted. However, most movie fans will find WHERE EAGLES DARE to be thoroughly enjoyable WWII spy thriller, which greatly benefits from the presence of its leading men- namely Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. Considering that the majority of Eastwood’s movies are on DVD, WHERE EAGLES DARE is probably the most eagerly anticipated that is currently making its debut on DVD. Of course, back in the days of Laserdisc, I remember having similar feelings about the wide screen release of WHERE EAGLES DARE. But then again, the DVD edition is far and away a superior product to the Laserdisc- besting that previous release by a good margin, but more on that later.

Based upon the novel by Alistair MacLean, WHERE EAGLES DARE follows a British sponsored rescue mission to a Nazi stronghold in the Austrian Alps, lead by Major Jonathan Smith (Burton). The objective of the mission is to retrieve a high-ranking American general, who is privy to the allies’ top-secret strategic plans against Germany. Because of the general’s nationality and as a courtesy to the American military, Lt. Morris Schaffer (Clint Eastwood) has been selected to work with the British team. However, from the moment the rescue party parachutes into enemy territory, we discover that the mission isn’t completely what it seems, and that there is most likely a traitor amongst the group. The cast of WHERE EAGLES DARE also features Mary Ure, Patrick Wymark, Michael Hordern, Robert Beatty, Anton Diffring, Ferdy Mayne, Derren Nesbit and Ingrid Pitt.

Warner Home Video has made WHERE EAGLES DARE available on DVD in a fine looking 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The previous wide screen Laserdisc edition was a bit soft, as well as being somewhat grainy and displaying a lot of annoying little blemishes. Fortunately, the DVD appears much sharper and better defined than the Laserdisc did, plus the problems with excessive grain and blemishes have been greatly reduced. The image on the DVD is very pleasing, and along with the improvements in resolution, offers stronger and more solid color reproduction. Much of WHERE EAGLES DARE takes place in low light situations, and the new transfer strengthens shadow detail over previous incarnations of the film. Additionally, blacks appear accurate, whites are crisp and contrast is quite good. Despite the film’s length, there are no problems with digital compression artifacts on this dual layer DVD.

For this release, WHERE EAGLES DARE has been upgraded to a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Considering that the film was originally released in 1968, this is a rather solid track. There are the expected fidelity limitations, but the film’s sound effects do come across in a convincing manner, plus Ron Goodwin’s musical score is rendered with an effective sense of presence. The forward soundstage tends to dominate the mix, although the surrounds kick in with occasional effects, ambient support and musical fill. Dialogue is crisply rendered and always intelligible, although voices aren’t always smoothly reproduced. The bass channel is pretty solid for its age and does quite well in enhancing the film’s action oriented moments. A French language track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles. Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the twelve-minute vintage featurette On Location: Where Eagles Dare, a theatrical trailer, plus cast & crew listing with an Eastwood filmography.

As I stated above, WHERE EAGLES DARE is a thoroughly enjoyable WWII spy thriller. Warner has done a very good job with the DVD, offering the best looking and sounding home incarnation of the film ever. If you are an Eastwood or Burton fan, or just enjoy the genre, then WHERE EAGLES DARE is a DVD you will want to add to your collection.



Where Eagles Dare (1969)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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