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The Wild Geese (11-Nov-1978)

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen

Writer: Reginald Rose

From novel: The Wild Geese by Daniel Carney

Keywords: Drama

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Richard Burton
10-Nov-1925 5-Aug-1984 Nineteen Eighty Four
Jeff Corey
10-Aug-1914 16-Aug-2002 Little Big Man
Frank Finlay
6-Aug-1926 30-Jan-2016 Othello
Stewart Granger
6-May-1913 16-Aug-1993 King Solomon's Mines
Richard Harris
1-Oct-1930 25-Oct-2002 English Bob in Unforgiven
Percy Herbert
31-Jul-1920 6-Dec-1992 The Bridge on the River Kwai
Hardy Krüger
12-Apr-1928   The Flight of the Phoenix
David Ladd
5-Feb-1947   A Dog of Flanders
Roger Moore
14-Oct-1927 23-May-2017 James Bond after Sean Connery
Jack Watson
14-May-1915 4-Jul-1999 The Wild Geese


Review by Walter Frith (posted on 7-Jun-2007)

'The Wild Geese' is really two movies combined into one. The first half is about planning and the second half is about execution when unexpected circumstances arise. It moves well with straight forward story telling techniques and its action sequences are short and mixed well with characters who are intelligent and whom the audience comes to care for. I never saw it on the big screen. I was 13 years old when it came out in 1978 and it has been a favourite of mine on the late show, pay t.v., VHS, and now, finally, on DVD. It incorporates the basic premise of Murphy's law meaning what can go wrong will go wrong. It's about the chaos of any military situation and the missions of the mercenary balanced against the angst of his opponents. The story revolves around a group of former military men who are now mercenary officers. Richard Burton stars as Col. Allen Faulkner, a man who will work for the good guys or the bad guys as long as they pay him well. He doesn't care. When he's not in the employ of a group with a top secret mission to be carried out, he's an out of work drunk. He demands that in order for the mission to even be considered for his undertaking that those seeking his services find two other men. They are Capt. Rafer Janders (Richard Harris) and Lt. Shawn Fynn (Roger Moore). The last leading officer in the group is Lt. Pieter Coetze (Hardy Krüger), a South African with a desire to fill his bank account and buy his own farm back home. He is a friend of Fynn's who vouches for him and recruits him accordingly. The four of them are charged with putting together an elite mercenary group to go into a corrupt African nation and rescue the rightful leader of the nation who is being held in a prison camp and is thought to be dead by the people in his country. The man at the top of the food chain who pays for the mission is Sir Edward Matherson (Stewart Granger), a wealthy and unscrupulous London businessman. He wants the rightful African leader returned to power so he can execute a deal in that nation involving the riches of copper mines which will bring great profit for his company. As the mission is being planned and eventually carried out, a turn of events takes place that puts the mission and its men in a position where they are fighting not only to protect the African leader whom they have been sent to rescue, but to save their own lives as well. I doubt the film will ever play well with female audiences. Most I've talked to who have seen it didn't like it. It's a quintessential "guy" movie with a great cast. The biggest criticism the film received was the alleged miscasting of Richard Burton as a mercenary. I couldn't disagree more. Burton was a great actor who died too young and who plays his part in this movie as a semi-washed up military professional who will do anything for money. He is truly a despicable and visceral individual with honour, surprisingly, and who treats others as well as he's treated. I suspect the washed-up aspects of his character led to people misunderstanding the way he played his part in this film. Burton left the world too soon in 1984 when he died at the age of 59 from a cerebral hemorrhage. Richard Harris is also deceased and his role in 'The Wild Geese' is somewhat political. Not only is his character a mercenary like the others but he is also an idealist. Someone not interested in the money but the cause. Always on the side of the good guys or at least who he perceives to by the good guys. Roger Moore is a supporting player in this film and his antics in the James Bond movies makes him a perfect fit for this role. Two sleeper performances that make the film a real treat come from Jack Watson who plays RSM Sandy Young, the officer who whips the men into shape for the mission and Stewart Granger as Matherson, mentioned earlier and who is a symbol of today's growing greed and misdeeds of corporations around the world. His part is extremely small but deadly and effective. The dialogue in 'The Wild Geese' sounds as if it was strictly enforced by the film's director, Andrew V. McLaglen, as it doesn't look like many takes were done in order to get the finished product. This doesn't make it mediocre, but rather it gives it edge and respecting the writer, Reginald Rose in this case, is beneficial to any movie. And also respectful to the author of the novel on which the film is based.....Daniel Carney. 'The Wild Geese' is superb entertainment that is plausible and carried out with precision in its use of military weaponry, tactical procedures and makes good use of the politics the story has contained within it. At least these elements of the film are appealing to the average person and what I love about movies like this is that you can tell that multiple screenings took place by those who released the picture as it is not boring for a second and every frame fits like a glove. From the old age of cinema, it's nice to see a movie that has action sequences that were produced with elbow grease and not a computer screen. What's that old saying? "They don't make 'em like that anymore." Perfect terminology for this somewhat forgotten classic in the action/adventure genre. [Visit FILM FOLLOW-UP by Walter Frith]

Review by Andy Vagg (posted on 9-Nov-2007)

This Film is absolute gold! Filmed in the late 70's it was a story of mercinaries, fighting for values above money, if you like. Whatever way you see it the morals and actions were out of time and place, all the "good guys" had a rather 1940's sense of honour, and te officers and nco's had that stiff upper lip quality. The storyis a duel story, the 1st about the men, their backgrounds and relationships.The 2nd is about the gung ho good vs evil battle, between big business/African dictators and emergig african politics. Looking back now, it all seems a bit cliche'd with the kindly whites helping the noble Africans, who manage to convert a 70's white South Afrian away from apparthied ,and to then throw down his life to save his black leader. This film works because, it does not try to be serious about African politics or about the way the west treated African nations, it works as a rip roaring action flick about a few against many, good vs evil and freindship. So sit back, watch it and just enjoy it for wha it is, a bloody good war film!

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