OPERATION CROSS EAGLES (1968)
Richard Conte, Rory Calhoun, Aili King, Relja Basic, Rick West and Demeter Bitenc.
Low-budget, low-octane "thriller" directed and starring the old-sounding and tired-looking Richard Conte.
Set in Yugoslavia during WWII, a small band of American commandos is sent to rescue an American officer from a German fortress.
The movie follows pretty much the same plot as the far superior Where Eagles Dare: the commandos' mission is botched immediately by a traitor in the midst of the good guys; some rescue attempts go wrong; and the whole mission turns out to be a fake for a completely different target, thus revealing the traitor.
Operation Cross Eagles is a pretty boring and obviously low-budget flick shot in Yugoslavia, where production costs were cheap and plenty of WWII-era equipment was (and probably still is) floating around. The story is familiar and presented drearily with no innovation whatsoever. This comes as no surprise as Conte directed the picture. It's his directorial debut, and he probably couldn't do too much out of the ordinary for a first venture and starring at the same time.
The cast - especially Conte and Calhoun - don't make very convincing soldiers, as they both look to be in their early 60s, but they appear perfectly comfortable in their roles. There are no preachy speeches to deliver, or moving dialog of any kind, but neither actor is really known for that sort of work. They're just ordinary guys having ordinary conversations and sound fine doing it. Relja Basic (The Fifth Offensive) is on hand as a nasty German Admiral, and has enough to do in a pretty predictable part. Demeter Bitenc (The Battle of Neretva) pops up a few times as the bad guy.
There's enough cheap action going on to keep you interested, but not really glued. Nothing exciting and cool happens; but nothing utterly bad-looking happens, either. One long airplane strafing scene gets really, really monotonous and I seriously almost fell asleep. The cinematography is pretty slapdash, the music score is nothing special and the scenery doesn't do Yugoslavia justice.
Add to all of this a really stupid climax, which you don't even expect to happen when it does! And it's over so fast! I wasn't paying attention and had to rewind the tape to catch what happened. The story just abruptly ends and the movie is basically over. No loose ends to tie up or anything.
This is a pretty boring war film that I would only recommend if you've seen all of the better ones I've reviewed.
SGT. SLAUGHTER'S RATING:
3 Bullets - average