Eagles Over London (1969)

Captain Paul Stevens is living in the middle of turbulent times. He’s caught up in the evacuation of Dunkirk, discovers a bunch of his own men have been mysteriously killed and had their identity papers stolen, and perhaps most trying of all, is saddled with a hothead, borderline comic relief Sergeant named Mulligan.

Mulligan is the sort of chap who delights in brawling with the French service men who have been relocated to London following the retreat from France. It’s a nice reminder to all us that wars aren’t just fought by good looking leading men, but also by pudgy ethnic types who fly off the handle frequently and have to be reigned in by their handsome and much more intelligent superiors.

Captain Paul has to demonstrate all the hunky leadership skills at his disposal in Eagles Over London. In addition to dealing with Mulligan’s low class shenanigans, there’s also the super hot and blonde Meg who toils away in the secret radar command center.

Having the Germans constantly bombing your city would put a crimp in a normal guy’s game plan to cozy up to such a delicious dame, but Captain Paul is the quintessential soldier, adapting and improvising so that he can get laid under any circumstances. Thus it is that when he and Meg are back at his place and the bombs begin to fall, the sirens go off, and lights start to flash that the real air raid takes place right in Paul’s pants!

The London Blitz he unleashes under Meg’s panties isn’t without its problems though. There’s also Air Marshal George Taylor who is running Operation Cockblock on Captain Paul every chance he gets.

Taylor is played by fading screen legend Van Johnson and his performance here is a portent of the one he would give almost twenty years later in another Italian war flick, Delta Force Commando II. I believe it was somewhere between both films that Van officially slipped from fading to totally freaking faded.

There’s a two front war at home that Captain Paul is fighting though! As if having some old geezer with a cool title lusting after your lady isn’t bad enough, Captain Paul discovers that he’s roommates with one of the Nazi saboteurs!

Now how in the heck did that happen? Did the Nazi sneak in when Captain Paul was at work and hide in a secret room in the attic? Did the Nazi use some sort of super occult SS powers on Captain Paul to mind control him into letting him stay? Or maybe he had plastic surgery done to resemble the twin Paul never knew he had!

Great plans to be sure! But who needs great plans when Captain Paul is on the case? Captain Paul simply asks the Nazi (Martin) to move in with him! Yes, Captain Paul met Martin during the evacuation at Dunkirk and Martin was disguised as a friendly soldier, but still, would a normal guy who is back home from the war and looking to launch his own D-Day on Meg’s D cups really invite a dude he doesn’t even know to stay in his house?

Especially when Captain Paul has already discovered a bunch of his men dead and he suspects that Nazis are afoot in London disguised as British soldiers? Captain Paul never really said it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t secretly hoping these Nazis would sabotage the Air Marshal’s supply of Viagra!

It is against this backdrop of Captain Paul’s sitcom-style personal life that he harasses superior officers and searches London for the Nazi invaders. The actual searching though is fairly pedestrian with everyone in London looking for a guy in a French outfit and Captain Paul running to an installation where the radar had mysteriously failed.

Director Enzo Castellari initially delivers some solid action and does so with impressive scale, particularly the evacuation at Dunkirk. There are lots of boats, soldiers and planes and the magnitude of Operation Dynamo at Dunkirk is nicely conveyed.

At close to two hours the movie is too slow for its own good and we are treated to entirely too many scenes with Van Johnson at the radar command center while people in front of a big table move model planes back and forth.

Other aspects are even less successful such as the extended and poorly conceived dogfight over London that ends the film. It’s an unconvincing melange of models and close up shots of Van Johnson that’s much too long considering the movie was really built around Captain Paul fighting German infiltrators. Castellari also occasionally uses a split screen approach that seems pointlessly arty.

Considering how much fun his more well known The Inglorious Bastards was, Castellari’s Eagles Over London can’t help but suffer by comparison, but it still manages to deliver a decent amount of war-related carnage (one Nazi even kills a guy in a sauna) and looks like a much more expensive production than it probably was.

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