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Castle Keep (1969)

During the Battle of the Bulge, an anachronistic count shelters a ragtag squad of Americans in his isolated castle hoping they will defend it against the advancing Germans.

Director:

Sydney Pollack

Writers:

William Eastlake (based on the novel by), Daniel Taradash (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Burt Lancaster ... Maj. Abraham Falconer
Patrick O'Neal ... Capt. Lionel Beckman
Jean-Pierre Aumont ... Henri Tixier, Count of Maldorais
Peter Falk ... Sgt. Rossi
Astrid Heeren ... Therese
Scott Wilson ... Cpl. Clearboy
Tony Bill ... Lt. Amberjack
Al Freeman Jr. ... Pvt. Allistair Piersall Benjamin
James Patterson ... Elk
Bruce Dern ... Lt. Billy Byron Bix
Michael Conrad ... Sgt. DeVaca
Caterina Boratto ... Red Queen
Olga Bisera Olga Bisera ... Baker's Wife (as Bisera)
Elizabeth Teissier ... Red Queen Girl
Anne Marie Moskovenko Anne Marie Moskovenko ... Red Queen Girl
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Storyline

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. Written by Jim Sadur <jsadur@keyflux.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The bold bawdy novel comes to life! See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 September 1969 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Castle Keep See more »

Filming Locations:

Novi Sad, Serbia See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (35 mm prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A 70mm blow-up version was released in Australia and Sweden. See more »

Goofs

When the tank pursues the bazooka team into the church, a close-up of the bazooka's muzzle immediately before it fires clearly shows that the tube is hollow and the weapon is therefore not loaded. See more »

Quotes

Pvt. Allistair Piersall Benjamin: My purpose is madness. It's the only way you can really tell what happens in war. By lying you can open the door a little crack on the truth.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Last Detail (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

 
CASTLE KEEP (Sydney Pollack, 1969) ***
5 August 2007 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

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!


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