TOWARD THE END OF WORLD WAR II, A SMALL COMPANY OF AMERICAN GI'SOCCUPY AN ANCIENT CASTLE. WHEN THE SOLDIERS GET A LITTLE TOOCOMFORTABLE IN THEIR NEW ENVIRONMENT, THEY SPARK A CONFLICT WITHITS OWNER OVER THE CASTLE & ITS CO... more »NTECTS - A COLLECTION OFOBJETS D'ART & A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WIFE.« less
"As I saw this film and Midnight Clear again recently, I thought about Stanley Weintraub's book Silent Night in which he discusses a brief period prior to Christmas in 1914, on the battlefields of Flanders, when German and British soldiers spontaneously agreed to declare a truce and suspend fighting, thereby defying their commanding officers. Centuries ago, knights and their attendants would work with their enemies to clear a field for combat the next day. Such cooperation had an obvious practical value. That's not what interests Weintraub as he examines a temporary truce during one of the bloodiest wars ever fought. It had little (if any) practical or tactical value but it did (and does) suggest a human need which transcends military obligations. However, war is war. After a brief respite, the carnage inevitably resumes.Directed by Sydney Pollack and based on William Eastlake's novel, it stars Burt Lancaster (Major Abraham Falconer), Patrick O'Neal (as Captain Lionel Beckman), and Peter Falk (as Sergeant Orlando Rossi). They and their five associates are in Belgium during the winter of 1944 when they seek some R&R in the 10th century castle of Count Henri Tixier and his wife, Countess Therese. The Count is impotent and desperate for his wife to produce a male heir. Falconer is an obvious candidate to help the Count achieve his objective. Meanwhile, the war in Europe continues, of course, but the castle keeps them safe from its dangers and deprivations. While seeing this film the first time and then again recently, I felt as if I were dreaming that I had returned to the 1940s in a time machine, to Belgium near the end of World War Two. Credit Henri Decae's cinematography with creating an uncommonly beautiful setting within which savage combat eventually occurs, reminiscent of John Mathieson's visually stunning camera work during the "Hell Unleashed" sequence early in Gladiator. This is a haunting film, at times an exquisitely lovely film. Certain scenes caused me to think that I was hallucinating. It now occurs to me that perhaps (just perhaps) Castle Keep portrays a group of men at war, not as they really were nor as war really was at a given time but as those men would remember it decades later, had all of them survived and eventually shared their memories of the castle and surrounding area. That is about as close as I have come (thus far) to understanding certain surrealistic moments in the film. Castle Keep deserves more attention than it has received. Hopefully it will soon be available in DVD format, accompanied by special features will include as much discussion of it as is already available or can be generated. I fondly recall the "Movies in Time" series on the History cable television channel, hosted by Sander Vanocur, which featured films such as Saving Private Ryan. Before, during, and then following each screening, Vanocur and his guests would discuss the film. How much I wish there were a recorded interview out there, somewhere, during which Pollack, Decae, Lancaster, Falk, and others associated with Castle Keep share their thoughts and feelings about its meaning and significance."
Underrated war movie
T O'Brien | Chicago, Il United States | 05/03/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Castle Keep is a very good war movie with an excellent storyline that is a little different from other war movies. The story takes place in the Ardennes during WWII in the Battle of the Bulge. Eight walking wounded misfit Americans discover a castle whose count offers to let them stay there. The Americans must decide whether to stay and delay the Germans at the risk of destroying the beauty of the castle or just turning around and running for their own lines. This movie boasts an excellent cast that includes Burt Lancaster, Peter Falk, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Tony Bill, Patrick O'Neal, and Bruce Dern. Lancaster gives another great performance as Major Falconer, the leader of the group. O'Neal is also very good as Captain Beckman, an art historian who wants to abandon the castle so it won't be destroyed by the advancing Germans. Another interesting performance is by Peter Falk as Sergeant Rossi, who disappears into the nearby town and becomes their baker. This movie has some anti-war messages, but at other times it is very funny. I hadn't heard of this movie before I saw it on TV, but it is very good. Well developed characters, good action, some humor, and an interesting if sometime out of place musical score. Either way this is a movie that is well worth watching."
Thank goodness!! Widescreen as it Deserves...
votok | Sharon Hill, PA USA | 10/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
Sort of akin to the Wild Bunch in WWII in a Medieval Castle, this is an action film with tremendous performances, from the angst of the Castle Baron over fear for his treasure-filled palace to Burt Lancaster's grim ruthlessness and determination to stop the German onslaught at all costs. Patrick O'Neal turns in a great performance too as a well of pathos over the wanton destruction approaching. Ending Battle is both wrenching and astonishing. Not to be missed!
There are some very surreal moments in the film, with many atypical sequences. It's great that we will be able to enjoy this in Widescreen for it so richly deserves such a presentation. Many thanks to Columbia Tri-Star for listening to the fans!"
Sonicboy | Greenwood, USA | 04/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Burt Lancaster is poised,confident and unwavering in his devotion to duty as he leads a small squad of American soldiers in this unusual,intelligent film.A tenth-century castle filled with irreplacable art treasures is the focal point of the story.The Germans have broken through Allied lines near the castle,and battered American troops are rapidly retreating.Do Burt and his men also retreat and leave the castle and its treasures to the advancing Germans? Excellent verbal exchanges among the American soldiers and truly explosive combat sequences interwoven with touches of romance and art make this more than a "men only" movie.It dwells on many levels.A classic!"
D. Blitz | LA CA | 07/20/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Compare letterbox title sequence to non letterbox movie. Someone should be shot for ruining a great movie"