Saturday, November 21, 2009

1978 - THE WILD GEESE is the Dirty Dozen with old guys

Patronized by film critics as an old fashioned film at the time it came out,  (I remember Siskel and Ebert really sticking it to this film).  The Wild Geese is a decent entertaining action adventure film about mercenaries in South Africa.  Their was a lot of criticism about the cast being too old, but the critics missed the point, the mercenaries were supposed to be an over the hill gang of soldiers fighting for a paycheck.


The Wild Geese has two of the British cinema's greatest functional alcoholics, Richard Burton and Richard Harris.  It also has Roger Moore who as usual struggles to show a little acting ability.


Directed by filmmaking hack Andrew V McLaglen who had an amazing career working with John Ford as an assistant director on The Quiet Man among other films.  McLaglen's  creative high point was directing something like over 200 episodes of the very good Have Gun Will Travel TV series.

McLaglen was  John Wayne's director of choice late in his career mostly because the Duke could  push him around while they were filming.  Still,  McLaglen did have an amazing working career as a director and certainly knew a thing about working with temperamental actors.

The real creative force behind The Wild Geese, was the producer Euan Lloyd.  Lloyd found the story developed it and took a chance on Burton and Harris who were uninsurable.  Lloyd was able to keep them sober throughout the shooting of the picture which was probably a challenge. 

Richard Burton looks old and puffy throughout the picture, but he is a commanding presence throughout the film and he is supposed to be playing a drunk.  Richard Harris  the idealist of the group comes off pretty well.  Roger Moore looks well groomed as usual.  

The Wild Geese isn't a completely empty action film, it actually raises some interesting ideas about the politics of Africa and the exploitation of the African people by greedy white industrialists.   The film has good action sequences and decent performances, it gets the job done.

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