Monday, May 30, 2011

Operation Crossbow (1965)

Director: Michael Anderson

Starring: George Peppard, Sophia Loren, Trevor Howard, John Mills, Richard Johnson, Tom Courtenay, Jeremy Kemp, Anthony Quayle

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They were schooled in sabotage...licensed to kill...and sent to destroy the world's deadliest rocket base!

Plot: A fearsome rumor reaches Britain's World War II command. The Nazis are developing rocket technology that could rain death on London and, then, New York. Quickly, England develops a plan to send saboteurs into the sites manufacturing the rockets. Just moments after the carefully chosen commandos parachute into the drop zone, their pilot receives an urgent message. The mission may be compromised. Abort. Operation Crossbow is the partly fact-based tale of how that team succeeded against daunting odds.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Most certainly.

This is one of the best WWII movies you've never seen and it's very different than the usual 1960s WWII fare. For starters, easily half the film is spoken in German with subtitles! Peppard, Loren, etc all speak German and most for a good chunk of their screen time. I'm sure you could pick their accents apart if you spoke German fluently, but for most of the audience it sounds legit. I've seen some people online bitch about the accents but you've got to consider the fact that at least they did something where most movies had Germans speaking English. The film makers get major points for trying to stay in reality.


Another cool aspect (aside from the many great camera shot and setups) is that A LOT of major characters die and I don't mean they're on screen for a few minutes and then snuff it. I mean they are built up and developed and then bite it. The balls they had making this astound me. Not only that but the form and flow are different. In just under two hours they tell a lot of story and it goes through many formats. It may end like a big budget 1960s WWII flick but the journey is told in a much different manner.

The performances are tops with Peppard showing that he's got a truckload of charisma and acting chops. Watching this just days after THE BLUE MAX (1966) which came a year later, I wonder what happened to Peppard. Having seen two films of his made within a year of each other, it's interesting to see the dynamic in his performance. He now seems sedate in TBM where he had previously been very much alive.

There are a lot of familiar faces in OPERATION CROSSBOW and they all do a superb job. Be aware that Netflix has a shitty pan & scan DVD. Look for the Warner Bros. release. It delivers a fantastic widescreen print along with the trailer (although not anamorphic) and a 9 minute promo piece made at the time it was filmed. It's a great disc and I highly recommend it.

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