What film turned out to be excellent when everyone involved was convinced they were making a fool of themselves?

When Eagles Strike (1968) is one of my favorite war films. Incidentally, it is also Steven Spielberg’s favorite war film.

However, this classic had difficulty seeing the light of day and the main stakeholders did not believe at all in its potential.

When Clint Eastwood read the script, he found it “terrible”.

He only accepted the project because he had nothing planned at the time and was offered a comfortable fee of $800,000 (he also negotiated to be offered a Norton P11 motorcycle as a bonus for making the film…).

Clint Eastwood’s main criticism of the script, written by bestselling war novelist Alistair MacLean ( The Guns of Navarone ), was that it contained too much expository dialogue and unnecessary complications. The actor also insisted that lines be taken from him and given to his partner, Richard Burton. When an actor makes these kinds of requests, it’s because he has a real problem with the film!

Eastwood was so disinterested in the project that he refused to change his hairstyle for filming, preferring to keep his Sixties cut even though he was supposed to play a Forties soldier!

Richard Burton was no more enthusiastic about making this film, only accepting the project because his stepson was convinced it would revive his career and he needed a success after having made several flops. Burton hated war films and hated the film when it was finished.

All this did not prevent the film from being a big commercial and critical success.

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