The Night of the Generals (1967) Poster

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Nice mix of genres
Renaldo Matlin19 April 2004
"What is admirable on the large scale is monstrous on the small."

It's Agatha Christie meets "The Battle of the Bulge" meets... oh you get the picture. Great cast lead by the always fabulous Peter O'Toole who delivers a memorable performance as General Tanz. Also nice to see French veteran actor Philippe Noiret in an ensemble that includes Omar Sharif, Tom Courtenay, Donald Pleasence and Christopher Plummer.

It is tense all the way mostly thanks to the great use of – first Warsaw (and the atrocities performed there) as a backdrop for the story and then we move to Paris where the plot to kill Hitler is nicely interwoven.

"The Night of the Generals" is at parts predictable, yes, (with the great exception of Omar Sharif's final scene) but I guess that's also what makes it kinda' enjoyable at times - at least in the very last scene - when you know what's coming (and boy does it feel good).

Some may find it a bit tedious and yes it is long, but when it was over I knew I would definitely see it again sometime in the future so in short: it works! If you think this movie is your cup of tea, based on the IMDb-information, you're probably right.

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Well made movie that combines murder mystery and war.
douglasadcom15 May 2004
An overlooked little gem that gets better with each viewing. Murder mystery set in the German Army during World War II, involving 3 generals who are suspects. Entire cast in good form; fine ensemble acting. Peter O'Toole in top form as a fanatical SS general suspected in the murders. Donald Pleasence and Charles Gray portray the other 2 generals with secrets to hide. Omar Sharif does an excellent job as the Army colonel investigating. Film set in both 1942 occupied Poland, and 1944 occupied Paris. Also neatly ties in the July, 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler, with a cameo appearance by Christopher Plummer as Field Marshal Rommel. Recreates the actual bombing of Hitler's headquarters, and the efforts by the Paris generals to unseat the SS and Gestapo. Highly recommended viewing.
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An Excellent and Very Underrated European Super Production
claudio_carvalho28 January 2004
In 1942, in Warsaw, a Polish prostitute is murdered in a sadistic way. Major Grau (Omar Sharif), a man from German Intelligence that believes in justice, is in charge of the investigation. An eyewitness saw a German general leaving the building after a scream of the victim. A further investigation shows that three generals do not have any alibi for that night: General Tanz (Peter O'Toole), Maj. Gen. Klus Kahlenberge (Donald Pleasance) and General von Seidlitz-Gabler (Charles Gray). They three avoid a direct contact with Major Grau and become potential suspects. As far as Major Grau gets close to them, he is promoted and sent to Paris.

In 1944, in Paris, this quartet is reunited and Major Grau continues his investigation. Meanwhile, a plan for killing Hitler is plotted by his high command; a romance between Ulrike von Seydlitz-Gabler (Joanna Pettet) and Lance Cpl. Kurt Hartmann (Tom Courtenay) is happening and Insp. Morand (Phillipe Noiret) is helping Major Grau in his investigation.

The story ends in 1965, in Hamburg, with another similar crime.

The first time I watched this film, I was a teenager and I recall that I left the movie theater very impressed. Two days ago, a friend of mine saw this movie again and sent me an e-mail. I decided to watch it again, on VHS, since it has not been released on DVD in Brazil. This movie is really an excellent and very underrated European super production, having a spectacular international cast. Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif, from `Lawrence of Arabia', have another outstanding performance working together, highlighting the role of Peter O'Toole as a deranged man. It is amazing how Omar Sharif was a great actor in the 1960's. The story has war, mystery, crime, romance, drama and thriller, in right doses. Further, the character of Omar Sharif, as an ethic man who believes and pursues justice, no matter the price, is exciting. The reconstitution of the period is also fantastic, specially the scene of the madness of General Tanz in a block of Warsaw, when he burns and destroys many buildings. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): `A Noite Dos Generais' (`The Night of the Generals')
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Dramas in the drama
michelerealini14 October 2004
"Night of the generals" is big Anglo-French production of 1966, which talks about dramatic facts in a dramatic period (World War II). Two prostitutes are assassinated (in Poland and in France respectively) by a mysterious killer. A colonel of the German army (Omar Sharif) investigates and suspects three generals -two of them (Charles Gray and Donald Pleasence) are involved in a plot to kill Hitler, the other one (Peter O'Toole) is the most crazy and dangerous-. Twenty years later the same French inspector (Philippe Noiret) who helped Sharif in the inquiry faces another case of a murdered prostitute, the crime is executed in the same way as the previous ones...

This film is excellent. With a supercast (O'Toole, Sharif, Pleasence, Gray, Courtenay, Noiret) director Anatole Litvak directs a classic, a masterpiece. This film, maybe, is not as famous and as remembered as it should be... It deserves to be rediscovered, thanks to the recent DVD release.
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Nazis and serial killers, oh my!
mattbaxter7212 June 2007
Well, if nothing else, we can agree that they don't make 'em like this any more. A cast of super-prestigious actors, including a reunion of Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif from Lawrence of Arabia, is employed in a huge, unwieldy Euro-pudding of a production about Nazis, murderers and a Nazi murderer.

This isn't an easy movie to summarize, since there are at least three major plot-lines going on at the same time. In one, someone is killing prostitutes in occupied Warsaw and Paris, and Omar thinks the murderer is one of three leading Wehrmacht generals. In the second plot, various high-ranking officers are conspiring to overthrow Hitler and bring the war to an end. And in a third plot, Tom Courtenay's corporal is getting very close to the daughter of Charles Gray's untrustworthy General Gabler.

All three plots intersect, sort of, but I can't help wishing that someone had made up their mind just what sort of movie they wanted to make and stuck with it, rather than trying to make three at once. Courtenay's romantic sub-plot is entirely redundant, and should have been cut out completely, thus shortening the movie to a manageable two hours or so. And was there really any need for Christopher Plummer to saunter on in a minuscule cameo as Rommel? His appearance adds nothing to the story, and the only reason for him being here at all was presumably in order to employ every great British actor alive at the time. I'm only surprised that Laurence Olivier didn't turn up as Goebbels, or Himmler or someone.

And yet, despite the bloat, despite the stunt casting, despite the fact that Philippe Noiret is more wooden than the Black Forest, it works. I watched it for two and a half hours without getting bored, and I loved a lot of things about it - the characters interact beautifully, the tension in the conspiracy sequences builds up to near-unbearable levels, and the look of the thing is sumptuous in the extreme. You really feel you're there with these people, and you can't help but care about them and how the story comes out. In the end, that's what movies are supposed to do, isn't it? Night of the Generals is a long way from perfect, but it just about forced me to like it.
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Not bad at all...
Adam Frisch22 July 2005
I agree with the above general sentiment that the story strays a bit too much at times, especially with the rather useless bombing of Hitler as a detour. I do however understand why it's there - it's because by attaching the "good" German generals to the plot of killing Hitler, they let the audience not feel bad for rooting for them. Simple trick, but all in all detrimental to the momentum of the story.

The film is brimming with exceptional acting - O'Toole turns in a particularly vicious and strong performance as General Tanz, but everyone holds their own. It's rare to find a villain so distasteful and yet so intriguing - most filmmakers just content themselves with giving the villain an evil shtick without much character development - not so here.

I saw a newly mastered DVD in full 2.35:1 widescreen presentation and the the cinematography by the late Henri Decae is wonderful in all its glory.

Very interesting movie, please see it.
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Great 60s war mystery
TheRealArbiter13 August 2003
I remember seeing this film in the theater when I was a kid and being fascinated by it. When I finally located a copy on VHS, I was able to enjoy it once again. Do not over analyze it. Just enjoy Peter O'Toole as the nutcase Tanz, Donald Pleasance as the General-with-a-conscience, and especially Omar Sharif as the dogged, honorable military investigator. Charles Gray as General Gabler (and Coral Browne as his wife) are perfect as oldschool Wehrmacht junkers. ("We are well suited, aren't we?") Yet another film that needs to be released on DVD.
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Great movie
BerlinDancer29 June 2006
Wartime Europe - Warsaw 1942: A Polish man visiting the communal toilet in his tenement block hears the screams of a local prostitute being killed in the flat above. A few minutes later he hears footsteps coming down the stairs and he peers through the crack in the lavatory door and is shocked to see the uniform of a German general coming down the stairs. He reports the murder to the authorities and the investigating officer Major Grau believes him and establishes that only 3 of the German generals in Warsaw were without alibi on that night - Generals Tanz, Kahlenberge and Gabler. He begins his investigation but just as he is getting close to the truth, he is transferred to Paris by higher authority. Two years later in July 1944, another prostitute is murdered and Major Grau establishes that once again all 3 generals - Tanz, Kahlenberge and Gabler are all in Paris on the night of the murder. The hunt for the killer is on.....

An excellent murder mystery full of intrigue and suspense set against the background of wartime Europe, The Night Of The Generals is one of few movies incorporating historical fact with fiction and succeeding admirably. As well as the fictional murder storyline, readers will be treated to the cleansing of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto (1942) and the infamous July bomb plot to kill Hitler (1944) which are both incorporated into the story. Anyone who likes war or murder mystery movies will not be disappointed by The Night Of The Generals.
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Worth a look, but ultimately disappointing.
KEVMC23 May 2005
Warsaw, December 1942. When a prostitute is savagely murdered, German Intelligence Officer Major Grau is called to investigate. An eyewitness who caught a glimpse of the perpetrator through a crack in a door, reveals that the killer wore grey trousers with a red stripe down the side - the uniform of a Wehrmact General. Grau quickly narrows the suspects down to three men whose whereabouts on the night in question cannot be accounted for.

Having been aware of this film for many years, I finally managed to catch a rare screening of it last night on British TV. Part of my curiosity to see it was due to the sheer weight of the cast:- Omar Sharif as Major Grau, Peter O'Toole, Donald Pleasence and Charles Gray as the Generals, plus Christopher Plummer, Tom Courtenay, Philip Noiret, Gordon Jackson, John Gregson, Harry Andrews, Nigel Stock and Patrick Allen - phew! The film itself starts quite promisingly as a murder mystery and maintains the interest while based in Warsaw. It features an impressive sequence involving the flushing out of Polish Resistance fighters in the city. An interesting side-note at this point is that the armour used here appeared to be either real Tiger tanks, or pretty good replicas. This attention to detail was quite unusual for a film made in 1966. Usually, contemporary armour was used in war films of this vintage - I'm thinking particularly of 'Battle Of The Bulge', 'The Bridge At Remagen' and even 'Patton'.

However, once the scene shifts to Paris in the summer of 1944, the film starts to lose focus, meandering off on sub-plots about the Hitler assassination conspiracy and Tom Courtenay's character's love life. For long stretches Omar Sharif disappears altogether and the momentum is lost. Another distraction is the way the film jumps forward at intervals to the '60's, where we find Philip Noiret's Policeman interviewing some of the secondary characters in an attempt to solve the mystery. But by this point the killer's identity has become all too clear.

The film is by no means a total waste. It is in part an interesting study of German senior officers. The acting is good throughout, and to see stalwarts of British war films like Harry Andrews and John Gregson playing Germans is both curious and original. The script is literate, production design handsome, and the 1.78:1 presentation on ITV3 gave a tantalising glimpse of how good Henri Decae's photography would look in it's full 2.35:1 Panavision frame. But overall I was left feeling that with tighter handling regarding the killer's identity, and more emphasis on the central plot, the film could have been a far more satisfying whole.
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Excellent Throughout
elpasotoyman24 August 2005
Omar Sharif is excellent in this film. The fact is that the film needs to be restored to its widescreen version and released on DVD.

The acting is fantastic throughout and the locations are perfect.

The point I wanted also to make is that, unlike your "factual errors" there were in fact several Regular German Army units and soldiers who were later brought into the Waffen SS. Several of the foreign volunteer units were brought into the SS as well.

There were foreign volunteer units that were in the Leningrad area in 1941-42 and later became Waffen SS in whole or in part.

The movie does a great job of making almost perfect copies of German material and when it gets to France even has a shot of tanks made up to look very much like Panthers, in addition to the many kubelwagons and schwimwaggons.

Grau is one of the best characters in cinema and he should have had more screen time. A great film! A great indictment of the Nazis.
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Sensational and intriguing thriller about a Nazi officer investigating brutal crimes
ma-cortes28 December 2010
Franco-British co-production includes a phenomenal casting as Omar Sharif and Peter O'Toole stars this intense thriller set in WWII about a Nazi general who turns series-killer . A Nazi intelligence official (Omar Sharif) goes after three Nazi generals (a formidable trio formed by Peter O'Toole, Donald Pleasence, Charles Gray) who can be involved in the grisly killing of a Polish whore . Meanwhile , it happens historical facts as the Warsaw uprising and the 20th July Plot (1944) in which appears as collaborator Field Marshall Rommel (Christopher Plummer) .

This terrifying and sinister story turns out to be a big budgeted whodunit set in Nazi-occupied Poland and Paris full of big stars , thrills , emotions and too tense at times. Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif give terrific performances as maniac general and upright investigator respectively . Tom Courtenay gives the best acting as a disillusioned German Corporal and Philipe Noiret is top-notch as Police Inspector who works for both sides. The splendid cast includes Joanna Pettet who contributes the most controlled interpretation , John Gregson , Coral Browne, Gordon Jackson and the French singer-actress Juliette Greco singing a wonderful song . The best scenes result to be when general O'Toole is watching paintings have been selected and requisitioned from private collections by the Reichsmarshall Herrmann Goering , then he observes the ¨Decadent Art¨ as Touloise Lautrec (Le Divan) , Renoir (Nudes), Gauguin (On the beach) Soutine, Degas (The tub) and Vincent Van Gogh (self-portrait ) , when he suddenly bursts on real crazy.

Well adapted for the screen by Joseph Kessel from the best-seller novel by Hellmut Kirst with additional dialogue by Paul Dehn -Planet of Apes- and based on an incident written by James Hadly Chase. . Marvelous musical score by Maurice Jarre conducting the New-Philharmonic Orchestra-London . Excellent title sequence and spectacular production designed by Alexandre Trauner . Finely photographed on location in Poland and at studios De Boulogne-Paris . Glamorous and glimmer cinematography in Technicolor by extraordinary cameraman Henry Decae . This dark motion picture of epic proportions is stunningly produced (along with Sam Spiegel) and realized by Anatole Litvak (Snake pit , Sorry wrong number , Mayerling , Anastasia). This steam-roller based partially on fact has a high-rating : Better than average , though may be little slow for some tastes. Well worth watching .
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I highly recommend this movie to O'Toole fans and lovers of WWII murder
jhevents15 May 2005
I saw this movie in the year of its release. I have always been a great fan of Peter O'Toole and his performance in The Night of The Generals, as General Tanz is amazing.

There are no weak performances in this film and I consider the story line to be sound throughout. The plot against Hitler's life - which is a well known historical fact, in no way detracts from the murder mystery at hand.

The musical score associated with the film, composed by Maurice Jarre, is stirring and memorable. After more that 30 years, I still remember the haunting musical theme very clearly.

The Night of the Generals is a terrific murder mystery. I hope that I will have an opportunity to view this picture again in the future. Sadly, it appears that it is now difficult to find.
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" But Murder is the Occupation of Generals "
thinker16914 September 2007
One night when you have time on your hand for an interesting 'Who-done-it' set during a war, this is your film. It is a story with-in a story. The plot begins in war torn Europe, Poland, to be exact. The Warsaw night is laden with black smoke from the on-going destruction by the German Army. Somewhere, in the 'red-light' district, a high shrill and fatal scream rips the air as a woman is being savagely butchered. A Polish eye witness to the murder puts in an anonymous call to the police who in turn summon the German occupational police. The authorities send a dedicated, tenacious and zealous Intelligence Officer, Major Grau (Omar Sharif) to investigate. What he discovers is, whoever murdered the woman was not only a sex crazed lunatic, but a maniacal sword swinging maniac too. That's when it gets additionally dramatic, the eye-witness said the murderer wore a German Officer's uniform, . . with a red stripe. Only German generals wear the red stripe. Peter O'Toole plays General Tanz, a highly decorated and meticulous officer of the Waffen SS tank Corps and a favorite of Adolf Hitler. Donald Pleasence is Maj. Gen. Kahlenberg, a distinguished general who disappears from time to time and is an aid to the last general, General Von Seidlitz-Gabler (Charles Grey) who likes women and is a 'bit of a voyeur.' The only thing which ties them together is Lance Cpl. Kurt Hartmann (Tom Courtenay) a German witness. Philippe Noiret is great as Inspector Morand who's friendship with Major Grau extends beyond the war. They believe, any day is a good day to catch a murderer. Even a day when the whole world is falling down around them. An excellent film with which to slay a somber afternoon. ****
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Please Pass the Tofranil
rmax3048233 December 2001
This movie mixes several points together. They are not exactly seamlessly joined, true, but each is followable and interesting in its own right. In no particular order, we have the irony of ex-Wehrmacht officers and men doing quite all right in the 1960s Wirtschaftswelle of Germany. One of the characters we've been following remarks that these damned Spaniards and Italians he now has working for him in his factory don't know how to make Volkswagons. Back to the occupation of Europe, there is the overall context in which the Germans are losing the war, but nothing much is made of this except to the extent that it generates a movement among (some of) the officers to eliminate Hitler, a movement about which Major Grau (Omar Sharif), investigating the slaughter of a prostitute, observes cynically that it took quite a while for the movement to develop since the army seemed satisfied enough as long as they were winning.

The French police officer who is helping him (the ever-sympatico Philippe Noiret) asks Major Grau why he is obsessed with tracking down the murderer of a whore in the midst of mass demise, and Grau says he resents the murderer's thinking he can play God. Noiret asks, "And you can?" Grau replies neatly, "My blasphemy is on a smaller, more secular scale." (Some of the dialog is pretty nifty.) Omar Sheriff gives what may be his finest performance on film. He may have been all masculine in "Lawrence of Arabia" but here he is effete, suggestive in the most delicate way of homosexuality. It's in the way he holds a cigarette, the way he dances up a flight of stairs.

The search for the murderer, whose identity is stupefyingly obvious shortly into the picture, provides a police procedural that forms the movie's spine or at any rate its notochord. There is even a romance that is not simply thrown in but is fairly well integrated into the plot and important to the outcome. The cast is good -- and what a caste! Peter O'Toole has been criticized for repeating his neurotic tricks from Lawrence of Arabia, but I didn't find it derivative at all. Lawrence was subtly mad. General Tanz is completely, screamingly, eye-twitchingly, dripping with sweatly, NUTS. There are two scenes in which Tanz enters a locked room to view "decadent art." One of them is a self portrait of Van Gogh. In each scene Tanz and Vincent stare back at one another, two psychotics, and "I know exactly who you are" seems to be written all over Van Gogh's scowling face. Both times Tanz is overcome and seems to dissolve into a myoclonic fit.

The novel by Hans Helmutt Kirst was a lot funnier than the movie, taking advantage of every opportunity to poke fun at German military precision. But there are still amusing incidents left in the film. When Grau meets Tanz at a fancy reception and begins to query him, Tanz leans forward with an expression of distaste and asks, "Are you wearing PERFUME?" Grau, never flappable, replies, "I use a rather strong cologne." I don't understand, though, why Tanz wears the uniform of a Wermacht general through most of the film, then shows up at his last confrontation with Grau dressed as an SS officer.

Maurice Jarre was writing effective scores in the late 60s. His "crazy music" sounds like an accompaniment to a marionette show that, when one thinks about it, isn't entirely inappropriate. The murderer meets his just end (while sensibly drunk as a skunk in the novel) but the story is fundamentally a tragic one. Too many deaths of good people. Too many lives ruined for nothing. What a shame the Hitler plot didn't work. It should ideally have been mounted back in 1938.
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Moments of interest and effective scenes, weakened by clumsy narrative.
alexanderdavies-9938228 July 2017
I have to admit to having high hopes for "Night of the Generals." My previous viewing experience was 20 years ago when my brother rented the video. Alas, my expectations were only half met. The film suffers from a rather clumsy narrative as it keeps shifting from The Second World War to what was then modern day 1966. I found the constant shift in emphasis to be irksome as the film didn't seem to know which setting it was focusing on. In addition, the story about a German officer who investigates the murder of a prostitute in Nazi occupied Poland, took a backseat to what was really a general look at army life amongst the Nazis. Peter O' Toole doesn't really take centre stage as he should have done. He is out of the film for many minutes at a time and that disappointed me. The same applies to Omar Sharif as the officer investigating the murder. Luckily, the film does maintain my attention and interest, thanks to a brilliant supporting cast. We have Tom Courtenay, Donald Pleasence, Charles Gray, John Gregson, Harry Andrews, Christopher Plummer and others. Peter O' Toole - when he is in the film - gives an outstanding performance as the cold and ruthless killer in "Night of the Generals." His blue eyes look almost piercing. Not the classic I was expecting but still good.
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Flawed film, with outstanding talent in the production
sgspires-89-4425917 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The Night of the Generals is a 1960s favorite of mine, even if it is just for the talent and the cinematography. Alas, today, because of a few production errors, as it stands, this one is the answer to the trivia question: "What film reunited 'Lawrence of Arabia' co-stars Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif?" This film has about every Sixties icon that could be shoved in a Wehrmacht uniform - Peter O'Toole, Tom Courtenay Omar Sharif, Charles Grey, Christopher Plummer, Donald Pleasance, Nigel Stock, etc. It only lacks Derren Nesbitt, Jeremy Kemp and James Mason (along with real German Karl Michael Vogler) to have rounded up the majority of European male stock of actors who could fill out a German uniform. The setting of Warsaw showed these guys were bad Germans, and few movies are set in World War II Warsaw, even though it is as easy as taking a back lot and making it look further run down. Involving some of the Generals in the actual July 1944 plot to kill Hitler - hence the name "The Night of the Generals" - gives the film depth (but pads it for about half an hour). The "who done it" in wartime was a great plot touch. The color, the psychology used with O'Toole's character of General Tanz gives the movie a touch of learned discourse. And murdering prostitutes gave it as close to SEX, boobs and legs as could be done in 1966, when the film was lensed. *** SPOILER *** And here's where it makes the viewer hate it: O'Toole literally kills the movie, the audience and Sharif's Major Grau when he guns down Omar in a climatic confrontation and with about 20 minutes left for dates and viewers to squirm their seats. It was as if Holmes were torn apart by the Baskerville hounds on the moors. Sharif as Grau was everyman. He is even likable as a German pressed into wartime service because he was a policeman in civilian life and was needed for the war effort. Everybody loves the detective cop. But O'Toole simply, dispassionately guns him down. It is a cheap shock for the audience, but the act destroys the one person the viewer identified with. I mean there may have been a few fellows in 1967 Rio or Caracas who were pulling for the Generals, but those guys were not the money paying target audience. Spend two hours building a character and then gun him down, and the audience will hate the movie. They did, and they still do. Well, a guy who was an enlisted man in 1967 Vietnam said they showed this movie to the soldiers and it was sort of popular for the girls,the sex killing and the fact a few generals sort of get it. This could be remade today. Throw out the bit about killing Hitler, make it a straight psycho general with common hang ups and keep Grau ALIVE until after the war when he brings justice to Tanz, and it would work. It could even work with some sort of anti moral twist ending, such as Grau killing Tanz and keeping the cycle of violence open. But it CANNOT work with the hero figure murdered before the closing act. So, great film if you like 1960s talent and faux psychology. If you like straight murder mysteries or simple crime plots - SKIP IT.
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Magnificent parable in war story's skin
Vincentiu27 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A magnificent parable in war story's skin. Peter O'Toole is a splendid general Tanz, each word and each gesture are elements of delicate miniature. At first view- a film about sadistic crimes and justice. About rules in mad times for an elite out of any law. Then- ambiguous fight between absolute power and conscience of a man for who a prostitute is not anonymous object but a human been.

I saw this film at different ages. Always it was pretext of a new discover of real world because the images, the Tanz facial expression, the fascination for a painting, the immoral orders or the others like pathetic toys are not elements of Nazi period or accidents. In some aspects, it is a profound story about Shoah and about Gulag. About a huge power who transforms men and lives in ash bread. About the limits of fear and respect for universal values. About the cruel show of many slices of silence.

Tom Courtenay It is a touching movie and the art of Omar Shariff is brilliant. At first sight, in a Reich without moral limits, the desire to realize justice is bizarre. And yet, major Grau is not Don Quixote. He is trace of normality in a amorphous time for who tomorrow is more important than today. A murder is a murder and the name of victim is not important. The killer is essential not like revenge piece or problem of conscience but like measure to stop hecatombs. The corpse of prostitute or his cry and the fire of Warsaw are faces of same coin. So, the authority of a German General or the steps of "Walkiria" are only details in the exploration of deep evil.

Other interesting aspect is the music of film. For many movies, the music is a part who gives power to images. In this case is the soul of film's action.

Tom Courtenay and Philippe Noiret are other two powerful presences. An anxious piece in an ambiguous game, saved by the cynicism of puppeteer and French inspector who discovers the corpse of truth. The survivors after a complex nightmare.
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great WW II mystery action movie
randymann016 September 2005
If you are a history buff, like a murder mystery and into "what if" detective plots - you will love this movie. So what if a prostitute is killed in war torn Warsaw during the final stages of WW II? A German Military Police officer cares, and even with wars chaos begins a search for the murderer that goes into post war Germany. Great acting and twists make this above average. The German period uniforms look real and the irony of a single death standing out among the millions of lives lost during the war is striking as two former enemy detectives begin tracking the killer together. Their investigation ends with a bang.

Peter O'Toole is the aristocratic German General the title is named after, he looks the part and plays it to perfection. With a great supporting cast this a must see WWII drama.
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Doomed From Its Source Material
vox-sane24 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"The Night of the Generals" is a who-dun-it set in the most audacious (and almost successful) plot by German moderates to assassinate Hitler. The movie is worth watching for the cast alone -- Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Tom Courtenay, Donald Pleasance, Charles Gray; and with cameos by Harry Andrews, Christopher Plummer and Gordon Jackson. Unfortunately, the mystery isn't much of a mystery. Looking for a psychotic killer among generals, you immediately think of the most psychotic general. Not only are these expectations fulfilled, the killer is given away far too early in the movie. Only with a drawn-out and dull post-war sub-plot is there some semblance of justice.

For once, fidelity to an original novel is a movie's downfall. The novel itself is sprawling, giving too few suspects for the murderer and not hiding it very well. It does not integrate the who-dun-it with the plot to kill Hitler very well, and it has a drawn-out post-war sub-plot. The movie follows the novel too doggedly, when it should have used judicious cutting and reshaping.

Everything about the movie is first-class. Unfortunately, it's too sprawling and formless to create much tension. The mystery story is, as in the novel, not much of a mystery; and it is not very well integrated with the assassination sub-plot. The post-war story from the novel should have been dumped. A movie is never too long if it's good and holds the attention. This movie is too long. But wonderful stars act their hearts out, and any fan of sheer thespian-ism can enjoy seeing the stars rub shoulders.
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Murders within Murders within Murders
theowinthrop5 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
When the novel THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS (by Hans Helmut Kirst) was published in the 1960s, it was a best seller. It has a very clever (devilishly clever) theme - when is a murder considered heinous? The plot is basically three levels or intertwined murder.

1) The organized murder (both normal and war crime) of World War II as practiced by the Nazi German Government.

2) The activities of a select band of German Generals (led by Field Marshall Erwin Rommel) to assassinate Adolf Hitler during a conference at Raustenburg, in July 1944, seize the German Government, and negotiate an end to the war with the British and Americans (probably not with the Communist Russians).

3) A series of apparently random prostitute killings across Europe (first in Warsaw) that appears to be linked to one of three leading German Generals: General Kallenberg (Donald Pleasance), Seydlitz-Gabler (Charles Gray), and Tanz (Peter O'Toole). The crimes are being investigated by Major Grau (Omar Sharif), who is as determined to solve this case as Inspector Javert was to capture Jean Valjean a century earlier.

Now, one can make a general statement (and it has been seriously made) that warfare is organized killing and murder and is no different from Jack the Ripper's activities (which resembles the activities of the prostitute murderer here). Yet while abhorring (or supposedly abhorring) the Rippers, Christies, Mansons, etc. in our society, people do still glorify and reward the officers and soldiers of armed forces (for the most part) who serve their countries. Rommel, for example, by his eleventh hour switch to support the Stauffenburg bomb plot, was technically committing treason - and was forced to commit suicide to protect his family from Hitler's full anger. But today, "the Desert Fox" is one of the few Axis generals to be regarded as great by both sides for his abilities, and a hero by both sides for his trying to get rid of a really evil madman. Yet that bomb plot actually killed two others in the bunker with Hitler who were closer to the bomb itself. Doesn't that (even if we don't want to think it) make Rommel an accessory to two murders?

Rommel is no more blamed for the deaths of Allied and Axis soldiers in his battles in North Africa than say George Washington and Lord Cornwallis are blamed for deaths at Yorktown. Yet their plans and orders set things up for such deaths - but we tend to ignore these. If people are blamed for wars it is the civilians or governments heads who are usually blamed.

And what happens with crimes that are government policy at the time. The issue is still cropping up in the U.S. actions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. With the Nazis, you have the Holacaust and various battleground horrors (i.e. "the Malmedy Massacres" during the Battle of the Bulge) that are not considered normal (if any warfare is normal) actions in war. Are the soldiers involved in such activities true criminals or are they considered "doing their duty". The answer depends on whether the country involved is willing to cover-up for them, and also successful in the war. Don't forget, we live in a post- Nazi defeat world. Had Hitler won, the war criminals would have included Churchill, F.D.R., and Eisenhower, not Goering, Hess, and Von Ribbentrop. Survivors in Nazi controlled Europe (no Jews or Slavs or Gypsies, or Communists or enemies of the Nazis) would have barely heard of the death camps and the Holacaust.

Here Major Grau is determined to find which of his three suspects is the murderer of the prostitutes. He has followed them across Europe. Tanz is the most ideological of the generals - a favorite of the Fuhrer. We see him destroying a section of Warsaw (presumably the ghetto) while being questioned by Grau. Tanz looks disdainfully at the Major and remains in his tank during the interview (looking downward at the Major). Kallenburg is the most secretive and mysterious of the three suspects - and we realize he is not as cooperative as he pretends to be. Seydlitz - Gabler is in a loveless marriage, and seems to hide behind his aristocratic lineage.

Grau does get some help from a French inspector Morand (Philippe Noiret) when the generals turn up in Paris. Morand actually makes some headway - he finds a crime being planned. But it is the bomb plot against Hitler. Grau hears this and laughs it off calling the plotters traitors (which again makes us wonder when is a crime no longer a crime and a murder what it is supposed to be).

Seydlitz - Gabler's daughter Ulrike (Joanna Pettet) is having a love affair with Corporal Hartmann (Tom Courtenay). Her parents are not thrilled by her romance with this untitled nobody. Hartmann is assigned to chauffeur Tanz around Paris while he is on vacation there. They go to one of the forbidden museums of impressionistic art there, and Tanz discovers a somewhat kindred spirit in Vincent Van Gogh's art style. In fact Tanz keeps returning to the museum day after day. Tanz's reaction to the paintings is one of the most effective moments of the movie.

In the end the case cannot be solved in wartime - it requires 20 years for the solution to emerge. And (although the audience does know who did it long before the conclusion) the end of the film shows that the sometimes a sense of disgrace can be brought about by the type of killing one gets tangled with.
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Stacks of money but no sense!
JohnHowardReid10 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A Sam Spiegel-Anatole Litvak Production for Horizon Pictures (Sam Spiegel) (London) and Filmsonor (Paris). Copyright 1 February 1967 by Horizon, Filmsonor. Released through Columbia. New York opening at the Capitol and Cinema I simultaneously: 2 February 1967. U.S. release: February 1967. U.K. release: 5 March 1967. Australian release: 21 April 1967. French release: April 1967. 13,213 feet. 147 minutes. Cut to 140 minutes in France. Filmed on locations in France and Poland. (Available on a very good Uca DVD).

French release title: LA NUIT DES GÉNÉRAUX.

SYNOPSIS: In Warsaw in 1942, a prostitute who doubles as an agent for the Germans is sadistically murdered by one of her clients. Sharif, from the German intelligence service that employed the unfortunate girl, sets out to track down the killer and soon narrows the field of suspects down to three generals. Eventually, Sharif's nearly obsessive mission to prove one of the three guilty annoys his superiors and he is transferred to Paris. Two years later, all the suspected generals are present in Paris when another prostitute is murdered.

COMMENT: Anyone who doesn't guess the murderer in this film can't have seen many pictures. There are only three to choose from, anyway. However, to add another puzzle to their narrative, the producers have deleted a few scenes and added a few unexpected transitions from the past events depicted to unexplained present-day ones; — so that one has a bit of a puzzle following the story as well.

Added to the plot problem, the acting is not very good either. O'Toole repeats all his Lawrence of Arabia mannerisms, and thus spoils the whole effect. Anatole Litvak's direction is surprisingly mundane and undistinguished. Even Decae's normally lush camera-work is way below his usual brilliant standard here. It's just as well the sets are so atmospherically attractive, and there seem to be so many crowds of realistically costumed extras milling around.

Obviously, stacks of money were prodigiously expended on the movie, and most of it is up there on the screen for us to marvel at and admire.
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Veru unusual WWII movie / murder mystery
Skragg12 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Even more than some mid-' 60s to early ' 70s ones, this is a WWII film that plays around with all the rules. In the murder investigation, it gives you a pro-Hitler general who might not be the killer the detective is seeking, and an anti-Hitler one who MIGHT be. And a third one who's a semi-comical character. It's also full of surprisingly funny lines (especially from the Donald Pleasance character), of the understated kind - "Do you really think anyone's going to believe you?" "Naturally. I'm a general." / "Yes, he wasn't a wholehearted soldier. I imagine he's deserted." / "I'm shattered. What is the point of being a general when corporals wish to remain corporals?" And of course it has Omar Sharif as Grau, a genuinely admirable character, even though he's too reckless about his own safety (as in the last 1944 scene). And of course it's sort of left to the viewer as to whether he's right to be completely caught up in a single murder for two years of WWII itself. But as he himself says, he's concerned with the small scale rather than the large. (In the book, Grau WAS more concerned with things like the plot against Hitler, but I think the movie handled things in a more original way, as in the scene where he and Morand discuss the subject for a few moments, then Grau movies on to something else!) And Philipe Noiret as Morand, who doesn't care that Grau is a Wehrmacht officer, any more than Grau cares that HE'S in the French Resistance, not just because they're "colleagues", but because they're not just colleagues in a "grudging" way, the way it is in many similar stories. (In fact, the scene I just mentioned ends with a sort of "warm moment" between Grau and Morand.) And even though some people say that Peter O'Toole is miscast, he really draws you completely into the Tanz character. In one scene, Tanz even seems to enjoy perplexing Corporal Hartmann - he smiles slightly and says, "Any conclusions you may draw from my behavior are false." And every other actor, in big or small parts, seems to fit the character very well - Charles Gray, Coral Brown, Joanna Petit, John Gregson, Philp Noiret and of course Tom Courteney as Hartmann.
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A very good surprise.
didierfort16 April 2009
The year of release, the international cast and production, all misguided me when I sat to watch "the Night of the Generals", at night, on a French TV-channel (and it was a French-dubbed copy). I was vaguely waiting for a tedious pudding, full of villains and with some redeeming heroes, in a run-of-the-mill denunciations of Nazi craziness, 25 years later. Mislead.

The pace, the cinematography, the plots and their intertwining, some sorts of, er, modesty in the way to tell the story, all almost perfectly works.

I won't discuss some minor slips on the historical background. I could let me follow the characters, especially the minor ones (Inspecteur Morand, Fraulein Seydlitz), I finally agreed with O'Toole's performance (more "homme au masque de cire" than ever), enjoy some great lines (some reminiscent of "Monsieur Verdoux"), I found the romance between Hartmann/Courtenay and Syedlitz's daughter tense, subtly told and played...

I think the length of the movie is perfectly fit ; the last thirty minutes, in modern Germany, are very necessary and cynical in the right way.

Apart from the musical score (much too heavy and useless in the Varsovian part) and the very end - conventional and contradictory with what we are supposed to understand of Morand's quest -, the whole thing is a very good surprise.

Do not neglect this film. It's worth 145 minutes of your life.
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For haters of the movie...
davidandrews2722 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It was based on a best-selling mystery novel that did Tom Clancy-style business, at a time when post-war Euro mystery writers (like Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo - remember them?) were bringing the war back in revisionist ways. The Nazi-art theft theme was also a revisionist topic of the day.

The two stars who carry the picture hated producer Sam Speigel for past injustices, and hated the picture he had roped them into. O'Toole, in particular, thought it was a comedown to be directed by aging old-schooler Anatole Litvak, though Litvak does keep the Euro flavor consistent in this. O'Toole and Speigel biographies talk of the actor deliberately overplaying the Tanz role so as to sabotage the mystery element of the picture, though it's hard to see how restraint would have improved the role. (And while this pic isn't The Lion in Winter, it's also hard to see how it's worse than Beckett.)

Even as a kid, I admired the 'big concept' of the film: Murder is wholesale in Nazi Europe, yet one freak is buying it retail, and another has only as much morality (or perversity) as is necessary to obsessively hunt the small murderer, but not the larger ones. If the state-vs.-individual angle had been played up a little more, if a younger director had made it in an artier style, if it didn't disregard history in so many ways - people would be falling over themselves comparing this to Blow-up as a portrait of modern times. They'd also be talking stuff about low material redeemed.

Being closer in time to the war than pictures like The Good German (Ehhh!) gives the apparent offhandedness of the moral treatment of the material a contemporary edge, though. The war slips away into the past without notice, just as, to American eyes, it seemed to have happened in Europe. Only the singular prostitute murders survive as prosecutable crimes - not even as war crimes. O'Toole's Jack-the-Ripperish performance seems to tie the two eras together, and the ending, in which celebration of his public excesses is spoiled by discovery of his private ones, nails the theme in the same deadpan style the picture has quietly established all along. It's hard to fault Litvak in this, though another director might have emphasized the passage of time as a dramatic-psychological element.

Like the script of Gangs of New York, Night of the Generals crams in a lot of historical background (yes, with anachronisms like the Warsaw Ghetto action placed in 1942), but it never seems like butt-covering for an inaccurate foreground fiction as in Gangs. Hannah Arendt's 'Banality of Evil' trope is put to work, as all facts - even those of the Holocaust - become statistical fodder for the war machine that remade Europe, while only the personal murders that the Tanz character is hunted for disturb the placid hum of the post-war apparatus. So both Litvak and novelist Hans Helmut Kirst are creditable for a contemporary and distanced view of the war. Some transitions and plot points are not suavely or accurately handled, or humanely considered. But don't let bad screenwriter shorthand fool you into thinking this is a comic-book treatment of the war or the post-war era.

Compare the themes of individual and state action in Night of the Generals to those in Blade Runner, The Sixth Sense - even The Fugitive. Those pics have a Noir-ish 'victim mentality' akin to Camus' The Stranger, while Generals has an activist mentality like The Plague, presented in a similar deadpan-existentialist style, in the face of futility. However it came about collaboratively, it did come about.
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A polished, entertaining, surprising epic
stuart-28813 February 2007
I am surprised that some reviewers are a little disappointed with this great film. I found it to be hugely entertaining, with many surprising twists and turns. OK some of the accents are a bit questionable, for example; most of the lead actors playing German officers use an authentic accent, whilst others in minor roles don't bother with one. The only two pieces of casting I have a slight problem with is using quintessential Scotsman Gordon Jackson as Omar Sharif's colleague and an American unknown actor as the German news-reporter. Sharif himself is excellent as the dogged, principled investigator, but it is O'Toole who dominates the film. He is simply chilling and quite believable as the withdrawn, intensely private, psychotic 'Butcher' of Warsaw. Well worth watching.
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