Where Eagles Dare always crops up here, the movie that is. It ranks swith Spinal Tap, Star Wars, Aliens and Jaws as a supplier of quotes for any situation needing one. But, I have to say I’d never read the book until now.
It’s a different knapsack of grenades altogether, for a start the body count is in single figures at the end, none of the MP40-fueled massacring in the Schloss Adler at all. In fact Smith, the Richard Burton character, goes out of his way later on in the story to the prevent the unnecessary deaths of German soldiers. This probably works better on the page that it would have done on screen, but is does make the movie’s casual slaughter seem just a little too much at times.
The story follows a similar path, although there’s a bunch of mountaineering at the start that isn’t in the movie, just as well given the special effects of the day, but there’s whole sections lifted word for word and you can’t help but hear the voices of the actors and see them on the sets of the film while you’re reading.
The casting was a work of genius, Eastwood was perfect, straight off the page, and the choice of Burton was inspired. He was too old for the role, too out-of-shape, but his presence on screen and his delivery of the lines work at a level that a younger actor cast to match the man in the book would have struggled to achieve.
There’s some daftness in there, repeated mopping of brows when disaster is averted and shaking of heads when regaining consciousness, but it was written 41 years ago, so maybe Alistair Maclean is to blame for those cliches?
It’s good fun, neither better nor worse than the movie, in places make more sense and less in others. The style is light and accessible, the detail enough to set a scene without bogging the pace down. I can see why Maclean’s books make for an easy movie.
Good camp reading I think. I’m going to get Ice Station Zebra for next weeks trip, Patrick McGoohan and Rock Hudson know the score when it comes to that sub zero nonsense.