Monday, November 2, 2009

Where Eagles Dare (1968)

I remember watching Where Eagles Dare for the first time about 20 years or so ago. Loved it to bits, but never rewatched it for whatever reason. Of course in the meantime I've been reading so much from Ingrid Pitt about her memories of the filming and her apparently gigantic contribution to the making of it. Trouble is that I could never actually remember seeing her in it.

Now Cinema Retro has published a fantastic special edition of their magazine focusing entirely on this movie on more than 80 richly illustrated pages. So when I finally held a copy of it in my hands, I just knew I was running out of excuses for not seeing this film a second time and popped it into the player again.

And what can I say? It still is one of the best WW2 adventure movies ever. Given that I hadn't seen it in more than two decades I was surprised how much of it I actually remembered, surely a sign how well the images had made an impression on me then. A near perfect film if ever there was one. Glad I watched it again and glad I have the Cinema Retro edition as a special memento.

But what about Ingrid Pitt?

Dammit, her role was so minute! No wonder she appears last on the cast list and no wonder I couldn't remember her. Did she even have a dozen lines in the film? Call me highly amused as to how much she managed to milk her tiny appearance in it over the last couple of years.

What also had me amazed was a contemporary Making Of documentary in which she has more to say than in the entire movie. (Probably because the main stars were busy actually filming.) The announcer's voice introduced her as being German which I put down as just another careless bit of research that we come across so frequently with this kind of promotional material. I was, however, genuinely agog when Ingrid Pitt herself introduced the plethora of different nationalities involved in the production and subsequently spoke of herself as being German!

She was born in Poland and suffered badly under the German occupation, so why would she all of a sudden introduce herself as German as opposed to being Polish? Surely from a production point of view it would have made no difference. It's utterly head scratching.

I definitely would like to know more about the director, Brian Hutton. The article on him in the Special Edition gave fascinating glimpses into this mysterious personality who at the height of a promising directing career decided to vanish into the sunset never to be seen or heard from again. It appears that he may have gotten into real estate, but attempts to contact him proved fruitless. Noone seems to know his whereabouts.

There are of course numerous cases of Hammer starlets gone missing, but this is the first time I am aware of a prestigious film director doing a vanishing act. After all, once a successful director you'd probably have a much vaster industry network than you would if you were a B-movie starlet, so it is intriguing to see how well he ended up staging this disappearance act. Gotta admire a man who lives according to his own rules and leaves when he is getting bored/disillusioned with it all.

Anyway, glad I finally managed to rewatch this production. I'll make sure I won't wait another 20 years to see it again.


Neil D Vokes said...

Great WW2 flick and CINEMA RETRO did a fabulous job honoring it- i look forward to their DOLLARS trilogy edition...;o)

Holger Haase said...

That makes two of us. The Dollar trilogy edition is going to be awesome, no doubt. Can. Not. Wait.

Holger Haase said...

Well, one mystery solved....

I asked Ingrid Pitt directly on her Yahoo Group about why she introduced herself as being German and this is what she had to say:

"A good question. When I went to have the audition with Brian Hutton I was told by Yak Canutt, who put me up for the job, to say I was German. As you know actors will say anything to get a job. Like when I was asked if I could ride a motorbike by the BBC. I said yes and 4 days later I was riding with the 1000 Royal Artillery Display team. My rule of thumb is to say 'yes' and work out the problems later. Hope you are well and hope to see you soon. Besos Ingrid"

Kudos for picking up on that question that quickly and for being so responsive to her fans!

Neil D Vokes said...

That's cool-as a comic artist i've done very similar things- if a job on a particular title came up or a project that someone wanted to co create with me,i was more than willing to say "Sure-i can do that!" and then figure out HOW later-lol...;o)