Eagles Over London (1969)
By: J.R. McNamara on January 11, 2010  | 
Severin Films (USA). Region A, B & C, 1080P. 2.35:1 (16:9 Enhanced). English DD 2.0. 112 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Enzo G. Castellari
Starring: Frederick Stafford, Van Johnson, Francisco Rabal, Evelyn Stewart. Luigi Pistilli
Screenplay: Tito Carpi, Vincenzo Flamini, JosÚ Martinez Molla, Gilles Dumoulin, Enzo G. Castellari
Country: Italy
External Links
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The 'spaghetti western' has never been my bag. While I appreciate there has been some amazing looking films made in that genre, they have never really interested me, but that may also be because the whole 'cowboy' thing has never interested me. Actually, my interest in the wild west starts and finishes with Pantera's Cowboys from Hell.

But macaroni combat, that's another story!

Enro Castellari's Eagles Over London, aka La battaglia d'Inghilterra and Battle Squadron is a fine early example of this type of film, and it is the film that director Enzo Castellari is known for best in his native Italy, even though, thanks to Quentin Tarantino's remake, he is known better in English speaking countries for The Inglorious Bastards, or maybe 1990: The Bronx Warriors or Bronx Warriors 2 if war movies aren't your thing.

This film is a clever take on the traditional war film, rather than being about a secret mission on foreign soil, or just plain out and out blazing combat, it is about a clever group of German soldiers who manage to sneak back to England after the Battle of Dunkirk, taking on various guises in an attempt to complete a mission which will herald the London blitzkrieg. One of the survivors of Dunkirk is picked to lead a homeland taskforce to attempt to root out these German spies, but what he doesn't realize is that one of these infiltrators is closer than he would know.

Sometimes I think that Tarantino gets paid to reinvigorate the legends of 60s and 70s filmmakers, but if he does, this time it was well deserved. Castellari's 1990: The Bronx Warriors was a VHS favorite of mine as a teen and I enjoyed this film, maybe not as much as that one, but I did think it was a fun, and sometimes funny (due to the traditional 'shouty' sergeant type common in these sorts of films) romp through WW 2 stereotypes.

The sets are of a pretty high standard, and the special effects of the day, but are well executed. They are mostly obviously miniatures, but are of such a high standard that even Gerry Anderson would be impressed. Some of his battle scenes are epic in scale and are accomplished - not on an opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan level, but certainly for the time they are effective.

As with many films with a large number of extras such as this one (that's extras as in non-speaking roles, not on the disc) there are some amusing sequences where they eyeball the camera, sometimes they smile when they shouldn't be ( the attack on the beach has several extras in the water making their way towards the boats with gigantic beaming smiles on their faces – war IS hell), falling over dead even before where they stand is bombed or shot at, and my favorite, assuming everyone that has been shot has been killed; the road that is attacked by aircraft in the first half hour sees many people shot, but no one stopping to see if anyone is still alive…. There were NO flesh wounds in Castellari's Dubya Dubya 2!!!
This being such a clear HD transfer, grain is apparent, but never intrusive. There is an occasional artifact, and as one would expect, actual footage from World War 2 isn't in the greatest condition. This film is presented in widescreen 2.35:1. I should also point out that the colors on this disc are spectacular.
Only presented in Dolby 2.0, but it is a competent audio transfer that at no time becomes unclear. It is, however, on this disc at quite a low volume, and I had to have the sound up quite high to hear it appropriately. You must expect too, that this being an Italian film, that there is a lot of dubbing, so if that is something you find annoying in films, you won't enjoy this as much as you could.
Extra Features
A Conversation With Enzo Castellari and Quentin Tarantino Part 2: immediately I have to admit to having not seen the first part of this interview, which I assume was on the Blu-ray of The Inglorious Bastards, so I cannot compare or discuss this interview as a whole, but what I can do is talk about my total amusement with this piece. Tarantino looks and acts like a hyperactive hidden bastard member of the Monkees, and every time he speaks, the ultra cool Castellari, dressed like an octogenarian Marcello Mastroianni, regards him with a face that says 'What the Hell is this guy on?' Now QT proves himself with this to be nowhere near as good an interviewer as he is a filmmaker. His questions are long and rambling, and he interrupts his subject, when this should not be about him, but about Castellari. (I will admit that when I get in front of people whom I have desired to meet, I tend to ramble as well, so I shouldn't be too harsh). This interview goes for about 15 minutes, and discusses both American stars in European films, and the re-cutting, and pillaging, of non-English films so they can be made acceptable for the American market.

 Eagles Over Los Angeles: this is a little piece showing both the introduction and post mortum of a showing of the film at The Silent Movie Theatre in LA by QT and Castellari. It's an amusing piece, if only for the mimicry of QT that Castellari performs. There is a small discussion and Q & A which reveals a few truths from Castellari as they talk about special effects and actors, and of course QT bangs on for far too long. One small note is that QT points out that one of the audience members is Australian director Brian Trenchard-Smith.

We also have a deleted scene, which as with most deleted scenes, I didn't miss before I knew of its existence.

We are also given trailers for both Eagles Over London and The Inglorious Bastards.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Many look fondly upon this film; and rightly so! It tells a great tale of saboteurs and infiltration, has some well produced action scenes (for its time… it's 40 years old, for goodness sake!) with a touch of good ol' fashion biffo for good measure. If you like war American war films of this period, even though it is Italian, you should love Eagles Over London.

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