Alistair MacLean wrote an original screenplay that was treated with respect for the writer’s unusual abilities as a master of actionful suspense. The resulting film is highly entertaining, thrilling and rarely lets down for a moment.
It’s basically a tale of rescuing a captured American general from a German stronghold in Bavaria during World War II by a hand-picked team of experts. There are so many twists and turns that the viewer is seldom able to predict the next scene.
Richard Burton, a British agent, and Clint Eastwood, an OSS ‘assassin’, head the crew which includes femme agent Mary Ure, who works at the spy bit.
Although the film is replete with killings and explosions, they’re so integrated into the story that they never appear overdone. It’s more of a saga of cool, calculated courage, than any glorification of war.
Burton never treats his role, though full of cliches, as anything less than Hamlet. Eastwood seems rather wooden in the early scenes, but snaps out of it when action starts piling up.