Friday, May 11, 2018

Eagles Over London (1969)

Rounding out a week of posts dominated by the theme of 'cut and paste' film making, a quick 'Random Movie Trailer' for the notorious Eagles Over London, a 1969 Italian war movie which recreates Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain.  I say 'notorious' because, while the film has its admirers who always cite its action scenes as a strength, these scenes, as usual for Italian war movies, are hugely inaccurate and feature lots of anachronistic equipment, but in Eagles Over London, these become so ludicrous as to completely undermine the movie's credibility.  Leaving aside the straight-winged Stukas seen dive bombing the beaches of Dunkirk, it is the Battle of Britain sequences which are especially poor, featuring Messerschmitt 109s in RAF colours, (actually the post-war Spanish built versions of the 109, to be wholly accurate),  battling Spitfires with swastikas on their tails.  Not just idiotic, but - for British audiences - also deeply insulting.

These sequences are made to seem even worse when it is borne in mind that the movie The Battle of Britain was released the same year and featured extensive aerial combat sequences with the same planes fighting on the correct sides.  And they were the same planes - the Spanish Messerschmitts and Heinkel bombers and the Spitfires seen in Eagle Over London were fresh from duty in The Battle of Britain.  In fact, most of the fighters had been specially restored for the latter film and their double duty was presumably a way for the production company to recoup some of its costs.  Which, of course, doesn't quite constitute 'cut and paste' film making as it was only a re-use of props, rather than footage.  However, ten years after they were filmed, the Dunkirk and Battle of Britain sequences were lifted wholesale for use in another Italian war epic: From Hell to Victory.  In fact, this was the film I originally saw them in and marveled at their ineptitude.  It was only some years later that I learned of their origins.  I have to say that both films are terrible, although From Hell to Victory is probably more entertainingly bad - its cast of international 'stars', including George Peppard, George Hamilton and Horst Bucholz, and its pretensions to be a war epic, just gives it the edge.



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