One of the most interesting home video news items thus far in 2013 is the Shout! Factory’s distribution deal with ITV Entertainment, which includes a lot of films from Sir Lew Grade’s ITC Entertainment. A lot of prestige productions from this British mogul have languished in poor quality editions on home video for many years in the U.S. so this gives American viewers a new chance to get better editions. They just released one of the first titles in this deal with a new blu-ray/DVD set of The Eagle Has Landed – and the results bode well for the future of the Shout/ITV arrangement.
The heart of this set is a new high-definition transfer of the film. The blu-ray version was watched for this review and it delivers a crisp, colorful rendition of the film that has the appropriate vintage-celluloid look. The audio is presented via a DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track and the fidelity is quite nice, with a smooth yet punchy mix. Fans might want to note that there are a few different cuts of The Eagle Has Landed and this film presents a 2 hour 15 minute version (some prints are ten minutes longer). For what it’s worth, the film plays well in the cut included here and never feels abruptly edited.
This set also includes a handful of special features to accompany the main attraction, with the same extras on both the blu-ray and the DVD. First up are a pair of featurettes from 2007. “Invading Mapledurham” takes a look at the real English village where the film was shot, with production designer Peter Murton walking the viewer through how he altered the village for the production’s needs (shooting battles in the church was particularly challenging). “Tom Mankiewicz: Looking Back” offers a brief chat with the screenwriter. He discusses the challenges of paring down the novel for a feature film and reveals the particular touches he added to the story.
There are also several vintage, newsreel-style extras. “ATV Today On Location” and “Film Night Location Report” both mix behind-the-scenes footage at the Mapledurham location with talking-head interviews with John Sturges, Michael Caine and a few other cast members while “On Location In Norfolk” purely focuses on Sturges, with him discussing the challenges of location filming during breaks in directing a shot in the woods.
The real goldmine here is “On Location Interviews,” a 26-minute reel of interview material that the some of the aforementioned pieces draw from. The interviews for Sturges, Caine and Donald Sutherland are particularly interesting because they all feature moments where they are allowed to offer comments on a list of films they have done. A theatrical trailer rounds out the extras.
All in all, Shout! Factory has served up a nice high-def edition of a title that has needed one for a long while on American home video and sets a nice standard for their ITV-oriented releases.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of The Eagle Has Landed, click here.