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Castle Keep (1969)

Castle Keep (1969)

Burt LancasterPatrick O'NealJean-Pierre AumontPeter Falk
Sydney Pollack


Castle Keep (1969) is a English movie. Sydney Pollack has directed this movie. Burt Lancaster,Patrick O'Neal,Jean-Pierre Aumont,Peter Falk are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1969. Castle Keep (1969) is considered one of the best Action,Comedy,Drama,Romance,War movie in India and around the world.

Toward the end of World War II, a small company of American GI's occupy an ancient castle. Their commander has an affair with the countess in resident. One guy falls in love with a Volkswagon. A baker among them moves in with another baker's wife. A group of shell shocked holy rollers wander the bombed out streets. A GI art historian tries vainly to protect the castle and its masterpieces.


Castle Keep (1969) Reviews

  • CASTLE KEEP (Sydney Pollack, 1969) ***


    I had been wanting to check this one out for over 20 years (it used to be available as a VHS rental at the local outlet but I never got around to it) but especially after reading up on the film on the internet since its 2004 DVD release(s) where its unusual "artiness" a'-la Alain Resnais' LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD (1961) was played up. Now that I've watched CASTLE KEEP for myself, all I can say is that it's arguably the strangest mainstream war movie ever and decidedly not for all tastes! The relatively large cast (for what turns out to be an introspective film) is uniformly excellent and is well up to the requirements of the brilliantly surreal, funny and literate script; Burt Lancaster, wearing an eye-patch throughout, has an unsympathetic role as the formidable leader of a group of misfit soldiers taking over a Belgian castle against unseen invading German troops. He is skillfully abetted by Peter Falk (as a soldier who abandons his post to indulge in his vocation as a baker), Jean-Pierre Aumont (as the "degenerate" owner of the titular castle), Patrick O'Neal (as a celebrated art historian all at sea on the battleground but well in his element surrounded by the castle's objets d' art), Scott Wilson (as a soldier who gets into quite a unique relationship – more on this later), Tony Bill (as the most spiritual of the men) and, the other side of the coin, Bruce Dern as a Bible-thumping conscientious objector who walks the Belgian rubbles with his ragged band of revivalist deserters-followers. The terrific cinematography of the awesome European locations – courtesy of Henri Decae – is complimented by a fine Michel Legrand score and, when they finally come, spectacular battle sequences. But it's the odd, surreal touches – including Scott Wilson falling in love with a Volkswagen, the same car rising from the sea after it has been drowned by his envious companions and floating ashore all by itself, the moving sequence between Tony Bill and an unseen German soldier (subsequently needlessly shot by Peter Falk) where the latter teaches the former how to play the flute correctly, the unusually realistic talk of fornication, sexual organs, impotence, the ambiguous (perhaps ghostly) nature of the characters involved and the events being enacted, etc. – which really make this show stand out from the crowd of WWII spectaculars and stick in one's memory – not to mention endear it to its legion of fans (who have famously decried online its original abominable pan-and-scan DVD incarnation, forcing Sony to re-release it in the correct Widescreen aspect ratio a mere four months later). The theme of the relevance of art in times of war brings forth comparisons to John Frankenheimer's THE TRAIN (1964), also starring Burt Lancaster, whose third (and final) collaboration with director Sydney Pollack – after the previous year's THE SCALPHUNTERS and THE SWIMMER (where Pollack replaced original director Frank Perry but goes uncredited) – this proved to be…perhaps as a result of the critical beating the film received upon its original release!

  • Surreal, amusing, disturbing--and brilliant.

    Hermit C-21999-12-05

    War is hell and war is insane, we've been told many times before, but rather than a bitter, angry polemic, this film is a surreal, dark-humored allegory that is as light as a fairy tale at times but ends up being the movie 'Apocalypse Now' wanted to be. It's set in a time and place that lend themselves to unreality. Toward the end of World War II the Germans are defeated yet continue on with their destructive fighting. A motley group of war-weary Americans comes upon a 10th century castle somewhere in the wintry countryside of France. Their commander (Burt Lancaster) stubbornly decides to fortify the ancient treasurehouse and put up resistance to the enemy rather than passing it by, risking the castle's destruction along with a millennium's worth of acquired art. It's impossible to imagine this movie being made even five years before it was, but by 1969 the Vietnam War had done a number on a lot of people's thinking and provided some different perspectives. A brilliant job is done by director Sydney Pollack along with writers David Rayfiel and Daniel Taradash of adapting a novel by William Eastlake into this funny, horrifying and strangely beautiful film.

  • A terrific underrated fable


    I remember watching Castle Keep many times as a youngster. The film was a staple on local TV and showed up several times a year. I loved it then and recently saw it again, for the first time in 20 years, on TCM. The film has lost none of its lustre and in its widescreen format is even better than before. Cinematographer Henri Decae (The 400 Blows) creates a surreal fairytale atmosphere without sacrificing wartime realism in this tale of stranded GIs in the Ardennes at the end of World War II. The squad, led by an eye-patched Burt Lancaster, try to halt the German advance by hunkering down in a medieval castle that has been miraculously unaffected by the tribulations of the war. The film has echoes of Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast and it's stylistic contemporary, King of Hearts, but stands on it's own as a superb philosophical exploration of warfare and violence. If you enjoyed A Midnight Clear, you will enjoy Castle Keep.

  • Unique film about war years ahead of its time!


    Unusual (more realistic - and surrealistic - than in other films) point of view on horrors of war, good directing and a strong cast. I liked this film very much when I saw it about 25 years ago in the Cinématheque (long live Yugoslav and now Slovenian Kinoteka). Unfortunately, the copy wasn't as good as the film itself. There were some missing parts so I'd like to check out this one again. What good movies Sydney Pollack made in his early days! I highly recommend his Slender Thread, The Scalphunters, They Shoot Horses..., Jeremiah Johnson and this one. Very unusual films for Hollywood standards, very brave, and as it seems timeless. In an interview Mr. Pollack once said that he thinks Castle Keep was way ahead of its time. The audience wasn't ready to cope with such a look at war. I wonder if it is ready now? Castle Keep recommended to all non-formula film lovers around the world. 9/10

  • The Battle of the Castle


    Clearly, Academy Award winning actor Burt Lancaster must have gotten along well with director Sidney Pollack because they made two films together: "The Scalphunters" (1968) and "Castle Keep" (1969) and Pollack contributed in the one in between, "The Swimmer," that Lancaster appeared in for director Frank Perry. A one-eyed U.S. Army commander, Major Abraham Falconer (Burt Lancaster of "Elmer Gantry), leads a squad of eight soldiers, consisting of three officers, two sergeants and three enlisted men soldiers into the Ardennes Forrest in 1944. They billet themselves in a breathtaking 10th century castle in Belgium on the eve of the historic Battle of the Bulge. The dry humor comes through the dialogue that cleverly undercuts each situation or predicament that our protagonists encounter. If fantastic photography guaranteed that a movie would be artistically great, "Night of the Generals" lenser Henri Decaë would make this the rule rather than the exception. His widescreen cinematography is a consistent treat for the eyes and the pictorial compositions are well-balanced and imaginative. Director Sidney Pollack and scenarists Daniel Taradash of "From Here to Eternity"(1953) and David Rayfiel of "Valdez Is Coming" (1971) adapted the novel by David Eastlake. "Castle Keep" emerges as a surrealistic World War II action epic. Major Falconer and his men defending the castle against an onslaught of German troops and armor. During the first half of this 106-minute movie, castle owner Count of Maldorais (Jean-Pierre Aumont of "The Siren of Atlantis") welcomes Major Falconer, Captain Beckman (Patrick O'Neal of "El Condor"), Lieutenant Amberjack (Tony Bill of "Ice Station Zebra"), Sergeant Rossi (Peter Falk of "Anzio"), Sergeant DaVaca (Michael Conrad of "Sol Madrid"), Corporal Clearboy (Scott Wilson of "In Cold Blood"), Private Allistair Piersall Benjamin (Al Freeman, Jr. of "The Lost Man"), and Elk (James Patterson of "Lilith") to the castle and hope that they will defend it from the enemy. Principally, Maldorais wants them to save his works of art and hopes that the virile Major will get his classically gorgeous wife, Therese (Astrid Heeren of "Silent Night, Deadly Night"), pregnant because the count is impotent and needs a male heir. After the Americans settle in—Falconer warms up the master bedroom with Therese, the soldiers head into town to the Red Queen brothel, while Rossi befriends the widow of a baker (Olga Bisera of Women in Cell Block 7") and starts baking bread. Captain Beckman gives lectures about the artworks in the castle. Not-surprisingly, Beckman was one an art historian. Falconer shows up in town and shows the prostitutes how to design Molotov cocktails and then throw them at German tanks when they enter town. The funniest scene involves Corporal Clearboy and the Volkswagen beetle that he finds on the premises. Late one night, two G.I.s set out to destroy the VW bug by pushing it into the moat. The bug floats so they shoot at it below the waterline to sink it. Corporal Clearboy awakens to the sounds of gunshots and scrambles for the stairs. A fellow soldier tells him to take the shortcut through another door. Clearboy opens the door and spaces on air. The door opens on the moat and the G.I. plunges into the moat, but he swims to the VW, cranks it up and drives it up onto dry land. The second half concerns the castle defense and a brief but explosive battle with tanks blasting away at the architecture as well as the Americans concealed behind it. Despite its pretentious, cool attitude toward warfare, "Castle Keep" qualifies as a traditional war movie, but it is far from conventional. The action boils down to a desperate siege with no hope in sight for relief. Indeed, some of the best World War II era films dealt with gallant last stands, such as "Wake Island," "Bataan," and "China." The Germans constitute a faceless enemy. Pollack keeps them at arm's length so we have no reason to hate them. The Americans are a cross-section of the United States and they are basically good guys who like to loaf when they get a caught. Major Falconer is a straight-up guy who does not lord it over his men. Nevertheless, despite its handsome production values, splendid photography, this World War II movie rarely generates any suspense because it the Americans are not portrayed in a sympathetic light and everything seems arbitrary. The performances are all good. Lancaster delivers a tight-lipped, no-nonsense performance as the disciplined commander with a purposeful manner. Pollack invests very little sentiment when the characters die. None of the Americans receive historic treatment. The sight of the castle burning is hypnotic. One of the most iconic character actors of the 1960 thru the 1980, perennial villain Bruce Dern turns up as a raggedly deserter who leads a religious sect. You can tell that "Castle Keep" is an anti-war movie because it refuses to glorify warfare. The problem with "Castle Keep" is that it doesn't have enough sarcasm to be a satire and it lacks exuberance in its combat sequences to be a warmongering classic. Interestingly, "Castle Keep" fails to measure up to its own—or perhaps Beckman's--definition of good art. According to Beckman, great art but disturb and awaken its audience. Sadly, "Castle Keep" neither disturbs us enough nor awakens us.


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