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Tuesday, 12 June 2018

On Blu-ray - John Snadden enjoys THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS (Anatole Litvak, France/Britain/USA, 1967)

Blu-ray cover. The Night of the General
A new Blu-ray release from the Twilight Time label is THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS (1967), a big budget 1960s Euro-Hollywood pic, which was produced by Sam Spiegel (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA) and directed by Anatole Litvak (THE SNAKE PIT). It's based on a best-selling German novel by Hans Helmut Kirst (and with a curious film credit for British pulp writer, James Hadley Chase). 
The movie opens in German occupied Poland during 1942, where a Wehrmacht officer, Major Grau (Omar Sharif) is investigating the mutilation and murder of a Warsaw prostitute. He soon has 3 prime suspects for the killing: General Tanz (Peter O'Toole), General Kahlenberge (Donald Pleasence) and General Gabler (Charles Gray), a Teutonic trio of truly un-heroic figures. But with the confluence of historical events and fate, the murderer and his activities remain above-the-law for the next 25 years. 
Peter O'Toole, The Night of the Generals
The film boasts good performances generally (that wasn't meant to be a pun), and especially from Peter O'Toole with his extra hammy eye-rolling and body shuddering. The opening credit sequence sets the film's tone perfectly. 
In 1988, an unacknowledged remake of THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS was the Vietnam war pic, OFF-LIMITS (aka SAIGON), from director Christopher Crowe (FEAR). It mostly ducked the wider political implications of the 1967 movie but on a visual level is an excoriating depiction of war in all its moral and visceral ugliness.

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