Information From IMDb
During WW2 a British aircraft is shot down and crashes in Nazi held territory. The Germans capture the only survivor, an American General, and take him to the nearest SS headquarters. Unknown to the Germans the General has full knowledge of the D-Day operation. The British decide that the General must not be allowed to divulge any details of the Normandy landing at all cost and order Major John Smith to lead a crack commando team to rescue him. Amongst the team is an American Ranger, Lieutenant Schaffer, who is puzzled by his inclusion in an all British operation. When one of the team dies after the parachute drop, Schaffer suspects that Smith's mission has a much more secret objective.
Written by Dave Jenkins
Richard Burton ... Maj. Jonathan Smith, MC
Clint Eastwood ... Lt. Morris Schaffer
Mary Ure ... Mary Elison
Patrick Wymark ... Col. Wyatt Turner, DSO MC
Michael Hordern ... Adm. Rolland
Donald Houston ... Capt. James Christiansen
Peter Barkworth ... Edward Berkeley
William Squire ... Capt. Philip Thomas
Robert Beatty ... Gen. George Carnaby
Brook Williams ... Sgt. Harrod
Neil McCarthy ... Sgt. Jock MacPherson
Vincent Ball ... Carpenter
Anton Diffring ... SS-Standartenführer Kramer
Ferdy Mayne ... Gen. Rosemeyer
Derren Nesbitt ... SS-Sturmbannführer Von Hapen
Victor Beaumont ... Col. Weissner
Ingrid Pitt ... Heidi
John G. Heller ... German major (at Zum Wilden Hirsch) (as John Heller)
Guy Deghy ... Maj. Wilhelm Wilner
Olga Lowe ... Lt. Anne-Marie Kernitser
Alistair MacLean novel (uncredited) story and screenplay
Denis Holt .... associate producer
Elliott Kastner .... producer
Jerry Gershwin .... executive producer (uncredited)
* The driving force behind the film was Richard Burton's stepson, who wanted to see his stepfather in a good old-fashioned adventure movie. Burton approached producer Elliott Kastner for ideas, who asked Alistair MacLean. At that time, most of MacLean's novels had either been made into films, or were in the process of being filmed. Kastner persuaded MacLean to write a new story. Six weeks later, MacLean delivered the script.
* Clint Eastwood was reluctant to receive second billing to Burton, but agreed after being paid $800,000.
* The "Schloss Adler" is actually the "Schloss Hohenwerfen" in Austria. At the time of filming, the castle was being used as a police training camp. There are no cable cars near Schloss Hohenwerfen. Hence the Cable Car shooting is done somewhere else.
* An accident during one of the action scenes left producer Elliott Kastner and director Brian G. Hutton badly burnt.
* Despite Eastwood's reputation for violence in other films, his character kills more people in this film than any other Eastwood character.
* The Junkers Ju 52 used in the film was still in use with the Swiss air force at the time. The Swiss also supplied the T-6 Texan trainers posing as "German fighters."
* Alistair MacLean wrote the script and novel simultaneously over a period of six weeks. For this reason the movie follows the book faithfully.
* Kenneth Griffith was first intended for the Peter Barkworth role.
* This film contains roughly 1472 edits during 151 minutes of action, this equates to an average shot length of about 6 seconds.
* In the scenes where Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood climb the step fortress walls, Burton moves with ease, while Eastwood is clearly working hard physically. This was due to the fact that Burton, who was a hard-drinker and out-of-shape by that point, chose to ride a crane (made invisible by special effects) up the wall, whereas the young, healthy Eastwood was actually climbing the wall.
* Richard Burton wanted Richard Egan to play the Clint Eastwood role.
* The castle, Schloss Hohenwerfen, is today open to the public and is a falconry. Other than the exterior, the only feature that will be familiar to movie fans is the courtyard.
* In a recent Channel 4 (UK) survey of the top 100 war movies Steven Spielberg voted this as his favorite. Mainly down to its sheer "boys own" factor of unreality. He even went so far as to repeat the "Broadsword calling Danny Boy" line.
* According to a special feature about this film, Ingrid Pitt, who plays Heidi, made a daring escape in real life, over the Berlin Wall.
* Co-star Clint Eastwood referred to this movie as "Where Doubles Dared."
* Derren Nesbitt was nearly blinded when the squibs in his chest blew upwards instead of outwards when filming his death scene - his character was filmed being shot in the head and the chest but in the finished film he is only shot in the head.
* Continuity: When Shaffer starts the cable car and runs to it to jump on himself, it doesn't actually start moving until he is nearly aboard.
* Revealing mistakes: During the classic corridor shootout between Schaeffer and the Nazis, the soldier who gets hit lying at the other end flies backwards before the ricochet charges in front of him go off.
* Audio/visual unsynchronized: When Christiansen fires at Smith through the roof of the cable car, he fires five shots yet the pistol can be heard to click empty on the fifth.
* Continuity: When Smith kicks Christiansen in the face on the roof of the cable car, there is already blood on Christiansen's face.
* Audio/visual unsynchronized: When Smith shoots the radio operator twice in the back, the second blood bag fails to go off in sync with the gunshot
* Factual errors: Schaffer's firing a machine pistol in each hand simultaneously would require almost superhuman strength.
* Crew or equipment visible: When the captured German Alpine Post Bus races throughout the airfield, Schaffer and Mary shoot several small jeeps which flip over. As they do, the rope that flipped them can be seen being pulled off screen.
* Crew or equipment visible: When Smith leads the group across the railroad tracks in Werfen, members of the film crew are reflected in the windows.
* Continuity: When Major Smith goes into the Bier Keller, he is wearing an officer's peaked cap. He takes it off and places it on the table and we never see it again. (Apparently, it was stolen from the set during the lunch break.)
* Continuity: When the traitor is shot while dangling from a rope outside the castle, the close-up shows him wearing a standard German field gray uniform. In the next shot, as he plummets to his death, he is wearing a camouflaged winter overcoat.
* Continuity: The bullet holes in the back of the bus appear then disappear during the final chase.
* Continuity: When Major Smith drives the captured German Alpine Post Bus toward the line of planes at Oberhausen Airfield, you can see that the horizontal stabilizer (small wing at the tail) of the first plane has already been destroyed, probably from a previous take.
* Continuity: When Mary Elison climbs out of the river, her hair is wet/dry/wet between shots.
* Revealing mistakes: When the metal canisters which landed by parachute at the beginning of the film are first seen, there is an obvious trail through the snow leading into the far trees, indicating the canisters were placed rather than parachuted into position.
* Continuity: When they prepare to leap into the river, the cable car appears to be over the middle of the river, perhaps even a close to the far bank. But when they do leap, the first jumper lands close the near bank and the cable car moves over the river once again.
* Factual errors: During the briefing, early in the movie, the team is told that General Carnaby had been on his way to meet with his Russian counterpart regarding D-Day plans and that the meeting place was to have been Crete. That would be impossible as Crete had been seized in a German airborne assault in the spring of 1941 and remained in German hands until the war ended.
* Continuity: As Major Smith and the group walk past the wood shed at Werfen their shadows disappear between shots.
* Revealing mistakes: When the Nazi car (after Smith and Shaeffer's arrest) is pushed into the ravine, it explodes without apparent reason before touching the ground. The same happens to the planes of the airfield being lightly hit on the tail by the German Alpine Post Bus.
* Continuity: Smith radios HQ and tells them he is..."effecting entry within the hour." At HQ, Smith's transmission of "Broadsword calling Danny boy" is heard at a significantly faster rate than Smith spoke it into his radio.
* Continuity: After Smith and Schaffer initially climb into the Schloss Adler, Schaffer puts on a cap and Smith doesn't have one as they walk out the door of a room and into a hall. Less than a minute later, both of them are walking down another hall, and Smith now has a hat similar to Schaffer's.
* Continuity: The scenes showing the escape out the window shows the stunt people rappelling normally with full rigging in the long shots, yet in the close up shots the actors are just holding onto the rope and they were not shown rigging the ropes for rappelling and did not show the use of any "D" rings or other rappelling gear.
* Revealing mistakes: Near the end of the corridor firefight, Schaffer retreats into the room and a German soldier throws a grenade through the door. In the widescreen version you can see the grenade strike the door frame and bounce back at the actor's feet, yet there is an explosion inside the room where the grenade would have landed. And grenades do not explode in a fireball as shown in this, (and other) movies.
* Revealing mistakes: The tree stump of a tree supposedly blown off by dynamite shows clear signs of being cut down with a chainsaw.
* Continuity: When escaping the castle, Smith helps Mary down from the roof of the cable car and then follows her into it. Between shots the chain blocking the entrance to the cable car disappears.
* Continuity: When Mary is escaping the castle on a rope, through the window, she moves backwards down the window sill to the edge of the wall. Both her hands are in front of her, holding the rope. The next shot shows her (stunt double) abseiling down the rope with one hand behind her back (the correct way to do it, the back hand is used as a brake).
* Continuity: The post bus used in the final escape has a black painted radiator with a silver circular badge on it when seen in the garage. However, when it is seen outside, the radiator and badge are painted red.
* Continuity: When Maj. Jonathan Smith is shot in the left hand closing a door behind him towards the final sequences of the film, he bandages the hand. This bandage and the blood on the bandage and his hand, disappears and reappears throughout the cable car scenes.
* Factual errors: Early in the film, Christiansen makes reference to a "Pathfinder squadron...with ten-ton bombs". The film is set some time before late 1944 which is when bombs of this size were developed, and the first wasn't dropped until March 1945. Also, the role of Pathfinder squadrons was marking targets, and they wouldn't have carried the bombs themselves.
* Plot holes: Although several stylish call signs are used in the radio transmissions ("Broadsword", "Danny Boy", "Father McCree"), most of the other operatives and Colonel Turner, as well as the team's location, are referred to by name in open transmission.
* Factual errors: At the beginning of the movie Colonel Turner introduces Schaffer, saying something like, "Lt. Schaffer needs no introduction, you will all recognize his shoulder patches of the Rangers Division." There were no Ranger divisions, only battalions.
* Continuity: After the swim in the river all four heroes are soaking wet. Yet when they are in the plane, Major Smith produces an immaculately dry notebook with the incriminating evidence. No wet pages or blurred ink.
* Anachronisms: The bus the team drives away in near the end is a 1952 Steyr built bus, a design that did not exist at the time.
* Continuity: As they are beginning to cross the bridge into the town a car comes down the road into town and the men all move to the right, except Christiansen who moves the left, to let it pass. In the next shot all of them are on the right as the car moves forward.
* Factual errors: In the flashback scenes in British H.Q., Lieutenant Schaffer is incorrectly wearing his paratrooper's wings over the right breast pocket flap of his dress uniform coat. U.S. Army qualification badges are always worn over (or on) the LEFT breast pocket flap.
* Factual errors: When Colonel Kramer introduces Major Von Hapen to General Rosemeyer, he states that the Major is Gestapo. The Gestapo were secret police and came under the control of Himmler's SS. The black SS uniform was not worn by Gestapo agents and so Major Von Hapen would not be wearing an SS uniform -- he'd be wearing civilian clothes (if he was even at the Schloss Adler, which is unlikely). Further, when General Rosemeyer states that he would prefer to keep the interrogation of General Carnaby a "strictly Army matter", he's already talking out of school -- Colonel Kramer is in the Waffen-SS, not the Wermacht.
* Continuity: At the airport near the end, the weather changes from cloudy and misty to clear blue sky and sunshine between shots.
* Audio/visual unsynchronized: When Smith leaves the cabin in the raging blizzard, the sound of the wind howling contrasts with the view of large fluffy snowflakes calmly floating gently to the ground.
* Factual errors: Apart from wearing a black Waffen-SS parade uniform, von Hapen's outfit has several other discrepancies, most notably a standard Nazi party armband (the one worn with the Waffen-SS parade uniform sported black stripes along the upper and lower edges), and a close combat clasp in gold above the left breast pocket, an award worn by soldiers with extensive front line experience, not the Gestapo.
* Plot holes: With the action in the latter half of the movie taking place more or less in real time, it is never explained from where the Junkers Ju52 operates, and how Colonel Turner could get on board on such short notice. The only country from which he could've flown is Switzerland, and somehow it seems unlikely that the Swiss authorities would've allowed British uniformed personnel operating in Switzerland, much less allowed operations from her territory.
* Factual errors: The Luftwaffe did not fly American Bell 47 helicopters during the second world war, yet we see one landing in the castle square.
* Continuity: As Smith and Schaffer walk down a steep bank to observe the castle, their MP40 submachine guns have the folding stocks extended, then retracted, then extended again.
* Continuity: With the Germans approaching the wood shed, Major Smith sets trip wire explosives and tells Lt. Schaffer to go out the window. Lt. Schaffer opens the window and begins his exit by straddling the window sill. In the next shot he is seen with both knees on the sill and he is backing out the window.
* Both Turner and Smith discuss the scandal to MI6 should the scandal of his treason get out. However, in 1939 the Nazis exposed MI6's networks in Europe, and the Special Operations Executive took over its functions in wartime.
Aigen im Ennstal, Steiermark, Austria
Borehamwood Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Ebensee, Upper Austria, Austria
Lofer, Salzburg, Austria
MGM British Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England, UK
Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
Samedan airport, Samedan, Kanton Graubünden, Switzerland
Schloss Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
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