Before the original Inglorious Bastards, Italian director Enzo Castellari made a barely seen war movie set during and after Dunkirk. This film has now been restored by Severin and now released on Blu-ray and DVD.
Apparently the film would crop on syndicated TV in the States and was largely forgotten for a number of years. Enter Quentin Tarantino who has for some time championed Castellari’s work and has introduced screenings of this film and the Bastards.
Captain Paul Stevens survives Dunkirk and makes his way back to London. He discovers that the Nazis have stolen various soldiers’ identities and are somewhere in the UK. He recruits his squad from France and attempts to hunt them down with the assistance of his old pal Air Marshal Taylor played by Hollywood veteran Van Johnson.
What follows is a good old-fashioned war film (it was made in 1969). As with most Italian films around that time (and the 70s and 80s) you would get a couple of ‘names’ (in this case it would be Van Johnson) and then the cast would be filled out with Italian actors whose lines would be dubbed into English later. With this film the dubbing isn’t that bad and it appears a lot of the cast were at least performing in some kind of English.
The production design is, frankly, superb. We have a very good recreation of Dunkirk and blitzed London. Also we have some nice almost Bond-esque design on some of the army radar stations.
Thumbs up also for the inventive editing where Castellari adds original WWII footage with his ‘new’ footage of aircraft pilots. This is very effective, in particular the split screen work. This may be quite common nowadays with the likes of Brian De Palma’s work and TV’s Spooks, but back then it was quite unique and inventive. Well done, Enzo!!
The picture on the disc is, simply, very good. It is not reference quality, but I would imagine the negatives weren’t that well looked after. The sound, being Dolby 2.0, is fine but not that spectacular. It is clear and the gunfire and aeroplanes sound pretty good.
A couple of nice extra features appear on the disc. One is the second part of an interview with Enzo and Tarantino (part 1 is on the Bastards disc) and a featurette regarding a screening of the film in the States. A couple of trailers round off the extras.
Eagles Over London is great. My Dad liked it (he is a war/western fan) and found it a most entertaining hour and three quarters, as did I. The Blu-ray is region free as is The Inglorious Bastards. Treat yourself to both films and have a bloody good evening in, Enzo Castellari style.