Where Eagles Dare

  • Directors: Brian G Hutton
  • Producers: Elliott Kastner, Jerry Gershwin
  • Writers: Alistair MacLean
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, War
  • Actors: Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Mary Ure

Where Eagles Dare takes place during World War II. In the winter of 1943-44, U.S. Army Brigadier General George Carnaby, enroute to Crete to rendezvous with Russian forces to plan the final details of the invasion of Normandy, is captured by the Germans when his aircraft is shot down. He is taken to the Schloß Adler (The Castle of the Eagles – hence the story’s title), a fortress high in the Alps above the town of Werfen and the headquarters of the German Secret Service in southern Bavaria. A special team of mainly British commandos is hurriedly assembled and briefed by Colonel Wyatt Turner and Admiral Rolland of MI6, and led by Major John Smith, MC and US Army Ranger Lieutenant Morris Schaffer. Their mission is to parachute into the locality, infiltrate the Schloß Adler, and rescue General Carnaby before the Germans can interrogate him.

Known only to Smith and Rolland, SOE agent Mary Elison, a trusted member of MI6, accompanies the mission. General Carnaby, really an American actor and look-alike by the name of Cartwright Jones, deliberately crash-landed near the castle after a staged attack by Royal Air Force fighters. He must be rescued before the Germans realize that he truly does not know of any secret plans and is not General Carnaby.

The final scene takes place on board the plane. Smith shows the books of German names to Turner, commenting that one single name is missing — one that the others couldn’t have known, since the mastermind of the German spy network in Britain was kept hidden from them. It is the name Smith showed Kramer earlier that evening, the name Kramer confirmed as the top agent. That name is Colonel Turner. Turner, exposed, faces a court-martial for treason in his native Britain. He chooses suicide, leaping from the plane. Smith returns to Rolland, having successfully destroyed German infiltration in Britain for the remainder of the war.

Who s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

  • Directors: Mike Nichols
  • Producers: Ernest Lehman
  • Writers: Ernest Lehman, Based on the play by Edward Albee
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis

Set on the campus of a small New England college, the film focuses on the violent and volatile relationship of associate history professor George and his overweight, hard-drinking, and crudely boisterous wife Martha, the daughter of the college president.

It’s 2:00am Sunday morning, and they have returned from one of her father’s gatherings. Martha announces she has invited a young couple – Nick, a young, good-looking, newly-appointed instructor, and his mousey wife Honey – to join them for drinks. George is disturbed because she did so without consulting him first, prompting Martha to launch into the first of many loud and lengthy tirades during which she taunts and criticizes him. Knowing his wife is an ugly drunk, he asks her to behave herself when they arrive, and when the doorbell rings, he warns her to refrain from mentioning their child to their company.

Overhearing Martha’s crude retort as the door opens, Nick and Honey – too polite and naïve to have declined the late-night invitation in the first place – immediately feel ill at ease and quickly find themselves caught in the middle of a verbal warzone when their efforts to engage in small talk set off a volley of insults between their hosts. Martha begins to flirt lewdly with Nick while his meek wife tries to pretend she is unaware of what is happening.

Nick suddenly realizes George and Martha’s child never existed. For years they have filled the void in their marriage with a pathological obsession with a fantasy child. As the sun rises, Nick and Honey depart, leaving their hosts physically exhausted and emotionally depleted. Martha asks if it really was necessary for their son to die, and George gently tells her it was time.

Becket

  • Directors: Peter Glenville
  • Producers: Hal B Wallis
  • Writers: Edward Anhalt, Jean Anouilh
  • Genres: Biography, Drama, History
  • Actors: Richard Burton, Peter O Toole, John Gielgud, Donald Wolfit, Martita Hunt, Pamela Brown, Paolo Stoppa

The story line monitors the transformation of Thomas Becket, portrayed, following the play, as a Saxon protege and facilitator to the carousing King Henry, into a man who continually invokes the “honor of God”. Henry appoints Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury in order to have a close confidant in this position that he could completely control. Instead, Becket becomes a major thorn in his side in a jurisdictional dispute. Much of the plot concerns Henry, the “perennial adolescent” as described by the Bishop of London, who finds his duties as king and his stale arranged marriage to be oppressive. Early in the film, we see him escaping them through drunken forays onto the hunting grounds and local brothels. He is increasingly dependent on Becket, a Saxon commoner, who arranges these debaucheries when he is not busy running Henry’s court. This foments great resentment on the part of Henry’s Norman noblemen, who distrust and envy this Saxon upstart, as well as the queen and queen mother, who see Becket as an unnatural and unseemly influence upon the royal personage.

Henry finds himself in continuous conflict with the elderly Archbishop of Canterbury, who opposes the taxation of Church property in order to support Henry’s military campaigns in France (“Bishop, I must hire the Swiss Guards to fight for me – and no one has ever paid them off with good wishes and prayer!”). During one of his campaigns in coastal France, he receives word that the old bishop has “gone to God’s bosom”. In a burst of inspiration, Henry exercises his prerogative to pick the next Archbishop and informs an astonished Becket that he is the royal choice.

The film concludes with Henry, fresh from his whipping, publicly proclaiming Thomas Becket a saint and that the ones who had killed him will be justly punished.