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Operation Crossbow

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  • #16
    I finally found time to watch Operation Crossbow recorded recently from the broadcast on TCM (UK).

    Sophia Loren’s brief appearance is very good as was Tom Courtenay as the Dutch agent who insisted that he could only speak Dutch & German, even under torture. But the performance I like most is Barbara Rütting as Hannah Reitsch who really was a famous female test pilot who was the first person to successfully pilot a V1 (without the explosive warhead) Hate her (Hannah’s) politics but admire her skills.

    Last edited by Nick Dando; 7 July 2021, 03:46 PM. Reason: V1 not V2


    • #17
      I watched this on BBC iPlayer yesterday. Yes, Guy Standeven caught my eye.
      a few observations;
      Trevor Howard appears in a role that was meant to have a "comeuppance", which is not there in the final cut. He is a naysaying scientist who refuses to accept that the Nazis could be successfully developing rocket weapons. He rejects all the intelligence reports and tries to prevent the allies from diverting resources to destroying the suspected sites. It really felt like he would either be exposed as a spy, or top himself in shame when the V1s and V2s started hitting London. Anyone know if a scripted ending like that ever existed?

      My mum was a teenager in London during this time and her descriptions of "doodlebugs" (V1s) matches the film perfectly. People would hear them flying overhead, but learned to fear only the point when the engine cuts out. As only then does it fall to earth and explode. The V2s were supersonic, you only heard the explosion on impact, with no warning at all.

      Sophia Loren's scenes are fascinating. They are a "star turn", where she is asked to go from sober to delirious drunk on a glass and a half of wine. According to an IMDb trivia entry, her scenes were removed from prints shown in Arab countries, where she had been blacklisted for her portrayal of a Jewish holocaust survivor​​​​ in another film. Looking at it with that in mind, you notice how her scenes are "removable", without any consequence to plot. Likewise, her insertion could have been a financial boost for an audience searching for a film that wasn't just another British war movie. Having one of the biggest stars for a wife proved irresistable for producer Carlo Ponti, he used her name to draw in a bigger audience. And she IS good.

      The set of the underground testing facility is magnificent. Was it used for other films? It must be in that book about MGM British that was mentioned here last year.

      I think I saw this on TV as a child. Possibly in the late 70s. It must have been pan+scan brutalised, so I was particularly happy to see the restored version with correct ratio - when I saw it then, it probably starred "phi Loren" and "George Pep". There were some terrific moments and some great plot points, but also some odd omissions that left me wondering about lost scenes - George Peppard suddenly gets a plaster on his forehead but I didn't see how/why. I suppose a climax where all the key characters get killed (albeit heroically) must have made it unattractive for the audiences outside the UK who had less interest in authenticity.



      • #18
        Originally posted by Kevinspencer View Post
        Sophia Loren, today, not into films. Last I herd she was involved with the Catholic Church in Italy.
        Not true! Last year Loren starred in a wonderful movie called A Life Ahead, directed by her son. It's on Netflix I believe and well worth seeing.


      • #19
        Operation Crossbow looked fabulous in 70mm (blow up) at the Empire, Leicester Square. The film was a surprise to me in 1965 - in some ways having similarities with traditional British war films from earlier years, with stalwarts like John Mills and Richard Todd making appearances, but with a vastly bigger budget resulting in an impressive looking, very entertaining film.


        • narabdela
          narabdela commented
          Editing a comment
          Saw it in 70mm at Bradford a few years ago. It's one of those films that really needs to be seen on a BIG screen.

      • #20
        I just watched a documentary on Discovery channel about the V weapons, particularly the V-2. There is a lot of information now available that wasn't known (still secret) back in '65 when Operation Crossbow was made. Essentially, the story in the movie is fairly accurate. They showed in the program how Werner Von Braun and his team were "welcomed" by the Americans after the war, along with all their research records. Spirited away by the US before the British or the Russians could get them. The rocket research in the mountains was staffed by slave workers from concentration camps - apparently more people died making the weapons than were killed by their use by the Nazis.
        Another revelation in the documentary was the role of Jeannie Rousseau, who spied for the Allies while working as a translator for the Nazis. She was captured twice yet survived three concentration camps to be liberated.


        • #21
          And after wandering through Wikipedia reading further on the subject, I found a chronological list of the various discoveries and intelligence reports that helped direct the allies toward the V weapons. Fascinating how many threads were needed to make the tapestry. Now imagine you are a screenwriter given the task to make a new version of the history. What would you include? Would you merge real people into fictional characters that could be the main protagonist, or would you try to retain all the disparate entities to stay truthful...