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'Broadsword Calling Danny Boy': On Where Eagles Dare

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  295 ratings  ·  83 reviews
From the acclaimed writer and critic Geoff Dyer, an extremely funny scene-by-scene analysis of Where Eagles Dare - published as the film reaches its 50th anniversary

A thrilling Alpine adventure starring a magnificent, bleary-eyed Richard Burton and a coolly anachronistic Clint Eastwood, Where Eagles Dare is the apex of 1960s war movies, by turns enjoyable and preposterous.
Paperback, 122 pages
Published October 4th 2018 by Penguin
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Sam Quixote
Nov 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
“Broadsword Calling Danny Boy” is a kind of written commentary track by Geoff Dyer on the 1968 Richard Burton/Clint Eastwood WW2 movie Where Eagles Dare (the title is a line from the film). It sounded like an appealingly unusual book and I’ve heard that Dyer is a hoot so I thought this might’ve been a fun read… and unfortunately it wasn’t.

Maybe he’s hilarious in his other books but, going by this one, Geoff Dyer is a desperately unfunny man! An example of his “comedy”: so the film’s premise is
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 hilarious and excellent criticism.
Bill Lynas
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Geoff Dyer has long been a fan of the classic 1960's war film Where Eagles Dare, & this is his tribute to that film. Dyer takes us through the film scene by secene, which sounds very boring, but it isn't! He throws in plenty of witty comments about the film, ranging from Clint Eastwood's acting (mostly squinting) to some of the film's more absurdly unrealistic moments. Some of his observations don't quite work, but many of them made me laugh out loud.
If you're a fan of the film then this is a mu
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved being able to own a film previously enjoyed at the movies on a DVD disc and play it whenever I want. This pleasure multiplied numerous times when it included cut scenes, alternative endings or most desired director's commentaries.
However, if I am honest my subsequent re-watching of these films does not justify the expense other than to have it to hand to show to someone who has never heard of the movie let alone seen it.
With the multiple channels and a desire to retreat into a book I don
Mar 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Every so often i do like to try something totally different from the usual genres that i enjoy reading. Sometimes i find i am wanting to read more of a genre that i haven't thought about before and sometimes not. All i can say that this book wasn't for me. However, i do thank Netgalley and the Publishers for my copy and this is my honest review.
Sep 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Oh dear. Slapped wrists to all the blurb-writers who mention this as being funny; it's patently not. Instead it's a sugar rush of observations noted down while a film was playing in the background – but with this level of frenetic detail it must have taken multiple viewings, either that or the pause button was pressed every ten seconds. The panoply of detail and forensic "analysis" comes at you in page-long sentences, with far too many clauses, and far too little editing, meaning I tired of the ...more
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it

3.5 Stars!

The good thing about this is that I have never seen the movie before. The bad thing about this is that I have never seen the movie before. I am a huge fan of Dyer and anything of his, particularly in non-fiction always makes for good to great reading. This short book is really a long-form essay, a fan letter to one of his favourite films from his formative years, which he admits that he was too ashamed to declare his love for in public before.

This has many of the classic Dyer traits (h
Elaine Aldred
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
‘Broadsword calling Danny boy’ is a phrase imprinted on anyone who knows the film where Eagles Dare and I defy anyone catching those words not to do so without hearing Richard Burton’s distinctive resonant tones announcing it.

The intro sets the scene (literally) for the kind of read you are in for:

“Do the mountains and the blue Bavarian twilight cause the drum march to rattle into existence – is the music an emanation of the mountains? – or are the peaks and valleys hauled into view by the march
Sid Nuncius
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved Broadsword Calling Danny Boy. It’s funny, affectionate but knowing and rather insightful in places.

Fairly obviously, this is written for people who know the film Where Eagles Dare and preferably who love it – a group which includes most of us who were teenage boys when it came out in late 1968. I still remember seeing it for the first time at the cinema, and, for example, the roar of laughter when Richard Burton announces that he has uncovered a plot to assassinate the Führer. Geoff Dyer
Thomas Burchfield
Dec 17, 2019 rated it liked it
"Now, I've seen Where Eagles Dare close to a couple of dozen times. It is, to the undying little boy within, the greatest "guilty" pleasure in all movie history. To further amaze, I'm not the only brainy little kid on this cable car. Among my fellow passengers are the distinguished critic Clive James; Man Booker Prize winning author Michael Ondaatje (author of The English Patient); the effervescent New Yorker critic Anthony Lane; and Steven Spielberg, who called Where Eagles Dare his favorite "w ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it
If you don't know much about the 1969 war thriller/adventure WHERE EAGLES DARE (with Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood on a rescue mission to penetrate a German castle fortress atop a snowy peak), then this slight very short read is not for you. Then again, even if you did know about it, it might not be for you. It reads like text from a Mystery Science Theater 3000 script, but written by a very academic British professor who does the odd high toned comedy set at the Erudite Dry Humor and Litera ...more
Marco Ocram
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it
A solid three stars for an admirably executed experimental work that I would have been proud to have had ghost-written myself. The results of the experiment have been adequately documented by others (see, for example, Heidigger et al, Annals der Literschrifen, 2017 (6;3)), so I will not detail them here, but instead concentrate on the possibility of extending Dyer's concept. In case you are struggling to follow, I should say that Broadsword Calling Danny Boy is a scene-by-scene description of th ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it

Where Eagles Dare is one of the genre-defining movies. It’s the ne plus ultra, almost perfect crystallization of the WWII action film, and rightly called by Tarantino the best guys-on-a-mission movie. A tightrope act between the implausible and the absurd. Breathtaking scenery and stunts. A suicide mission behind enemy lines to a vertiginous Nazi castle “where eagles dare not perch.”

Alistair MacLean gives the plot more twists than a dreadlock, stocks it with the full set of menacing Nazis and s

Graham McGhie
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Wonderful, Reverent and Comic Review of the Classic Film “Where Eagles Dare”:
This is a delightful trip down memory lane for those of us who regard “Where Eagles Dare” as one of the best adventure films ever made.
Dyer’s affection for the film is obvious from the start as he provides an in-depth commentary on "Where Eagles Dare": scene by scene, actor by actor, and dissects the plot. Nothing escapes his witty pen as he reverentially analyses this endearing film. Most, if not all, of the intended
Ronald Koltnow
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Coming from Pantheon Books in February 2019
A few years ago Geoff Dyer wrote a book called ZONA, an analysis of Andrei Tarkovsky's movie Stalker. He says in his new book "it was...absolutely the only film to which a book could be devoted." There have been many books published recently that are devoted to a particular film -- one on High Noon, one on Pride of the Yankees, and the whole BFI series. None of them are anything like BROADSWORD CALLING DANNY BOY. Dyer loves the action film Where Eagles
David Evans
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: obsessions
For those of us of a certain age (late 50s) this scene by scene deconstruction of the absurdities, inconsistencies and sheer enjoyment of multiple partial viewings of “Were Eagles Dare” over the past 50 years is a constant delight. As the author reminds us, Maclean’s thrillers, though compulsory reading as a 14 year old, are virtually impossible to re-read with any seriousness although I have taken a shine to several of his contemporaries whom I sadly overlooked in the 1970s, Gavin Lyall, Ted Al ...more
Spybrary Podcast Podcast
Where Eagles Dare is a guilty pleasure. A movie I loved as a teenager even with its gaping plot holes. I wrongly thought this would be a love letter to the movie but alas this was anything but.

'Broadsword Calling Danny Boy' started off well but soon the narrative and childish jibes wore thin. I rejoiced that thankfully this book is just a small read.

BCDB felt like Geoff was telling his mates about his fantasies with regards the 2 major female characters. For example and I quote:

'Heidi wearing
Tarjei Vågstøl
Sep 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: essay
Like Dyer, I love Where Eagles Dare. I've watched it five og six times, and, like Dyer, I could retell it scene-by-scene. That's exactly what this short essay is: A complete retelling of the movie, with observations and jokes thrown in. Thus, it serves to strengthen, but not explain, the initial enigma: Why do we love this movie?

In a sad kind of way, the jokes seems to mimic the flaws of the movie: The movie is a collection of over-used tropes, and the jokes and observations are in a way obvious
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, film
This is a very strange little book.

I picked it up on the back of Zona, Dyer’s earlier book on Tarkovsky’s Stalker, but this is a very different proposition. This is not really a huge surprise as on the face of it there’s very little to link Stalker, rated as a masterpiece of Russian cinema and one of the greatest films of all time with this book’s subject - Where Eagles Dare, a by the numbers piece of studio film-making not likely to appear on a list of the masterpieces of any kind of cinema.

Joseph Reynolds
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I will read anything Geoff Dyer writes. He is a terrific writer and hilarious. This book did not get a 5 star because: 1. Come on, 112 pages? 2. I am sometimes dumber than Geoff, and he lets me know this with some of his references, which I barely get. He can go pretty far out there there to be clever and get a laugh, but if you go too far then you lose 90% of your readers.

That said, most of his pop culture references you will get. How can you go wrong with Eastwood/Burton and Where Eagles Dare
Markus Innocenti
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At long last, a critical analysis of that classic of world cinema, 'Where Eagles Dare'. The concept might sound irreverent and funny — and 'Broadsword Calling Danny Boy' is easily the most entertaining book I've read this year (although 'Swann's Way' comes a close second) —but Mr. Dyer is so stunningly insightful about film, performance and life itself that there's a real seriousness under the humor that makes this a wonderful read. I've just ordered 'Zona', his earlier book about Tarkovsky's 'S ...more
Neil Fulwood
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not quite film criticism but as good as film criticism gets in the parts where it shades towards film criticism. Not quite autobiography but enlivened by autobiographical digressions. Not quite an essay but the most entertaining example of the essay form you’re likely to come across. Dyer’s 120 or so pages on director Brian G Hutton’s “boy’s own” war caper classic is quirky, sardonic and strewn with unexpected references (how do Martha Gellhorn, Sylvia Plath, Gudrun Ensslin and Piotr Uklanski fi ...more
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a short and at times, hilarious look at the film ‘Where Eagles Dare’. This isn't a behind the scenes exposes or how the film was made type book, but a scene by scene breakdown of the film itself with some wonderful and, as I say, very funny, laugh out loud observations by Geoff Dyre.

Dyer obviously loves the film, - who doesn't - and none of the comments are made with any nastiness attached, it’s more a large dose of respectable ribbing.

If there is anyone out there who hasn’t seen ‘Where
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you're of a certain age like me, ie a 60s British childhood reared on a diet of Reach for the Sky, The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen, The Dam Busters, The Guns of Navarone, Bridge in the River Kwai and The Cruel Sea, then you will have seen Where Eagles Dare more than once over the years. Geoff Dyer has written a love letter to the iconic film in the form of a DVD commentary. It is brilliant. Chatty but well informed, with lots of cultural references, background details, as he goes through sc ...more
Jane Hunt
If you love 'Where Eagles Dare', this in-depth study of the film, with many amusing observations will appeal.

For other readers who are not devotees of the film, you will learn a lot about it from the author's observations, but it's like an 'in' joke you have to be there to find it funny.

The quality of the writing is evident, but I lost interest at times with the content, and I have seen the film more than once.

Conclusions, am I glad I read this book? Yes. Would I have read it if I'd realised ho
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the movie Where Eagles Dare, It was made in 1969 and starred Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. It thrilled my 14 year okd self with an outrageously high body count and numerous explosions. A taciturn nearly mute Eastwood probably never killed more people then in this movie.

Geoff Dyer is a brilliant and funny writer in less then 120 pages he dissects the movie with affection and wit. He also clearly delineates the difference between a great movie and great literature.If you have not see
Mat Davies
This is the sort of book that is going to enrage as much as it delights. If you’re expecting a detailed cinephile examination of the best war movie ever made then look elsewhere. If you’re expecting a memory jogger then you may have found a happy home. What this really is, as the author admits at the end, is an extended, often tongue firmly in cheek, love letter to a much loved slice of cinema. The humour is bone dry; the writing elegant and you’ll romp through it as quickly as a viewing of its ...more
Steve Jackson
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
The film has always stuck with me. From an era when I was just old enough to watch it with my Dad. Our family group chat is still called "Broadsword to Danny Boy".


Loved the idea of the book. But it felt dashed off. The bits that were good were padded out with half thought out jokes.

Even with the padding it was all read within a couple of hours.

Felt very let down by assorted dust jacket quotes from reviewers. You couldn't help but think they were doing a mate a favour.

Now I'm craving a muc
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm the perfect audience for this, having both grown up watching and loving 'Where Eagles Dare', and having recently re-watched it just last year, along with a first-time read of the MacLean novel. The film is fresh enough in my memory to be able to easily follow along with Dyer's commentary and observations, and his ability to both poke fun at and extol the virtues of the epic WWII action pic is highly entertaining. Recommended, literally, for anyone who's a fan of the film, and it's a short re ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is a slim volume that basically functions as a literary commentary track on 'Where Eagles Dare.'

It's OK.

I think Clive James does a better job of explaining the films entertaining foolishness in a couple of pages in 'Cultural Amnesia' than Dyer does in this book. It isn't without positives though. The little section on how Clint Eastwood moves is a good bit of well-observed writing.

Fundamentally though this is a reasonably entertaining bit of fluff about a reasonably entertaining bit of fl
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Geoff Dyer was born in Cheltenham, England, in 1958. He was educated at the local Grammar School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is the author of four novels: Paris Trance, The Search, The Colour of Memory, and, most recently, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi; a critical study of John Berger, Ways of Telling; five genre-defying titles: But Beautiful (winner of a 1992 Somerset Maugham Prize ...more

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