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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and superbly acted, though overlong
Nominally a detective story spanning decades, this story will appeal to all those who enjoy terrific acting and period detail (the period here being WW II, Warsaw 1942 and Paris 1944). However, be warned it takes some stamina to make it through the meandering and overlong plot.

A truly star-studded cast seemingly stolen from the best of David Lean movies...
Published on 3 Nov 2006 by Mr. Stephen Kennedy

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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating failure
Much derided on its initial release despire reuniting the Lawrence of Arabia team of Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif (who share little screen time) and producer Sam Spiegel, Anatole Litvak's The Night of the Generals is a different kind of epic failure, and much more interesting than many a success of its day.
Clumsily ripped off by the Vietnam movie Saigon/Off Limits,...
Published on 17 Oct 2004 by Trevor Willsmer


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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and superbly acted, though overlong, 3 Nov 2006
By 
Mr. Stephen Kennedy "skenn1701a" (Doha, Qatar) - See all my reviews
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Nominally a detective story spanning decades, this story will appeal to all those who enjoy terrific acting and period detail (the period here being WW II, Warsaw 1942 and Paris 1944). However, be warned it takes some stamina to make it through the meandering and overlong plot.

A truly star-studded cast seemingly stolen from the best of David Lean movies (Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Tom Courtenay) complemented by Maurice Jarre's music, make this look like it should be more epic. Truth be told the story is rather more intimate. Sharif is Major Grau in Intelligence, who investigates the murder of a Polish prostitute, killed in a savage manner. The sole witness saw only that it was a German general. Only 3 generals did not have alibis, and Major Grau tries to flush the guilty one out, intent on justice. The story goes on to Paris some years later, where another murder occurs when all 3 generals are in town, and finishes in an overlong coda at the end when the murderer is finally brought to justice. The Generals are equally convincingly played by Charles Gray (Blofeld from `Diamonds are Forever'), Donald Pleasance and of course Peter O'Toole when he was a mesmerising presence on screen.

The theme is evident in Major Grau's ironic observation that `..what is admirable on the large scale is monstrous on the small.' Just because a man kills many as a soldier, does this give him a right to kill one innocent and get away with it? Grau's conviction is that the general is confident his title protects him, and is determined (at risk of his career and in fact life) not just to bring justice, but to show him he is not God. Surely the idea is still topical - when war and killing occur on a large scale, it certainly does not mean that justice should be ignored on even the small scale. Perhaps the idea is a peculiarly European one, as evidenced by this being a Franco-English production, and failure at the time at the box office.

The whodunnit becomes clear fairly early in the movie, and the middle third of the movie overwhelmed by the plot to kill Hitler - a murder which threatens to overshadow the finding of a murderer. So we're left therefore with a long and winding road to the finish line, but worth the stroll to take in some of the finest actors of the 60's in their prime, and a literate and thought provoking script.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating failure, 17 Oct 2004
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Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Night Of The Generals [DVD] (DVD)
Much derided on its initial release despire reuniting the Lawrence of Arabia team of Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif (who share little screen time) and producer Sam Spiegel, Anatole Litvak's The Night of the Generals is a different kind of epic failure, and much more interesting than many a success of its day.
Clumsily ripped off by the Vietnam movie Saigon/Off Limits, it's big-budget WW2 murder-mystery that goes off in all directions and frequently completely forgets its nominal main character, Omar Sharif's wildly miscast Nazi military policeman on the trail of the German general who brutally killed a Polish prostitute. In truth his part is little more than a cameo: he never does any detecting, merely occasionally getting information and a nice dinner from Philippe Noiret's French detective while the plot flashes forward to 1967 or off on a tangent with the plot to assassinate Hitler. The fact that so much screen time is devoted to unlikely Lothario Tom Courtney chauffeuring psychotic General Peter O'Toole around Paris doesn't exactly help the whodunit element, especially with his tendency to come over all epileptic every time he sees Vincent Van Gogh's self-portrait in the 'degenerate art' section of the Louvre.
Sharif isn't the only curious casting: it appears that the Wehrmacht did their recruiting almost exclusively at RADA, with their ranks swelled by cockney character players and their general staff by the better spoken staples of the British film industry. Somehow it just doesn't seem right to see John Gregson playing a Nazi...
The film is either too long or too short. As a mystery it needs to be tighter and more focused on the original investigation; as an epic exploration of Nazi opportunism, both during and after the war, it needs to be longer. As it stands, it does neither approach justice. But, sprawling and devoid of suspense that it is, the film still holds the interest, partially out of it's overly elaborate staging (there is one particularly impressive sequence of the razing of a Polish ghetto that highlights Henri Decae's use of color) and it's over-reaching, misdirected ambition. And just when your attention is ready to stray it will throw in some interesting side-note or line of dialogue, such as Noiret's delicious response to Sharif's statement that one of their generals is a murderer: "Only one?" Sadly the raised question of morality being a simple question of scale - that while mass-murder is admirable in war, individual murder remains abhorrent - gets lost along the way.
No extras, but the 2.35:1 transfer does justice to Decae's photography and the price is an absolute bargain.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intense cat and mouse thriller set in the Third Reich, 30 Jan 2011
By 
The CinemaScope Cat - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Night Of The Generals [DVD] (DVD)
In 1942 Nazi occupied Poland, a prostitute is mutilated and murdered. The investigating officer (Omar Sharif) narrows down the investigation to three Generals (Peter O'Toole, Donald Pleasence, Charles Gray) but he is transferred to Paris before he can complete his investigation. In 1944 Nazi occupied Paris, all four men are once again simultaneously in the city at the same time and there is a second mutilation and murder of a prostitute. But it will take 20 years and two more killings before justice is done. Directed by Anatole Litvak (ANASTASIA) and produced by Sam Spiegel (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA), this sprawling thriller takes its time in unraveling its story which gives us not only time to know these characters but also allowing a subplot involving the plot to kill Hitler. It's a fascinating look into the psyche of the Aryan arrogance which formed the backbone of Nazism, chillingly personified by Peter O'Toole in peak form here. That great cinematographer Henri Decae makes excellent use of the Panavision screen and the overbaked score is by Maurice Jarre. The large and exceptional cast also includes Tom Courtenay, Philippe Noiret, Joanna Pettet, Christopher Plummer, Coral Browne, Harry Andrews, John Gregson and Juliette Greco.

The Sony British import (an American release is imminent) is an excellent wide screen (2.35) Panavision transfer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Nicely Designed and Executed., 13 Nov 2010
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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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As fascinating as nasty gossip, but keep your finger on the fast-forward button, 3 Feb 2008
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Night Of The Generals [DVD] (DVD)
Germany Army officer Grau, a colonel in Wehrmacht Intelligence, is meeting with a French policeman, Inspector Morand, in Paris. The year is 1944. For two years Grau has been investigating the psychopathic murder of a prostitute that took place in Warsaw. The suspects are three Wehrmacht general officers. Says Inspector Morand to Grau, as he wonders why Grau is so persistent in his investigation. "Murder is the occupation of generals."

"Then let us say," Grau replies, "what is admirable on the large scale is monstrous on the small. Since we must give medals to mass murderers, why not give justice to the small entrepreneur."

The Night of the Generals is a mess. It sprawls all over the place, from Poland to Paris to Germany; from 1942 to 1944 to 1963. We have everything from warfare in cities to the 1944 attempt on Hitler's life to the fiction of Rommel's part in the Fuhrer plot, to the rise of neo-Nazism in post-war Germany, to definitions of decadent art. We see the tenderness of young love and the sexual sleaze of frozen-faced sadism. What on earth makes this two-hour-and-twenty-eight-minute movie...if you use the fast-forward button often enough...so much fun?

For me, it's two things. First, it's the schadenfreude-like satisfaction of watching so many members of the elite about to get theirs, all in the context of the rancid Nazi stew of ambitious senior military officers and the morally corrupt German high society that fed on each other. When you combine that with all those strutting uniforms with red collar tabs and red stripes down the pants, black batons, leather coats, boots up to the knees, it's hard to remember you're watching the leaders of a brutally effective army and not members of a Ruritanian farce. I wonder who the Nazis hired to design their uniforms?

The second thing is the skill of the secondary actors. More about them in a moment.

The three generals the then Major Grau (Omar Sharif) in Warsaw suspects of murder are General Tanz (Peter O'Toole), youngest division general in the Wehrmacht and a brutally effective general; General von Seidlitz-Gabler (Charles Gray), a senior officer in Warsaw who lives well, appreciates his lineage and who doesn't take chances. He has his wife and daughter with him. The wife (Coral Browne) is an even more dedicated Nazi than her husband. And there is Major General Klaus Kahlenberg (Donald Pleasence), von Seidlitz-Gabler's chief of staff. He seems at times to be human, drinks probably too much, and as we learn later, is up to his ears in conspiracy.

There is no doubt as to the killer once one looks even cursorily at the casting of the three generals. But then the murder of the Polish prostitute, repeated by the murder of a Paris prostitute in 1944 when the three generals have been assigned to Paris and meet Grau again, is hardly the point of the movie. The Night of the Generals is designed, I think, simply to let us look at corruption and destiny in high Nazi places. It doesn't succeed because the movie takes on so many things it wants to cover. Still, it's always good to see those who think they are our betters slip into the mud.

As the lead suspect and star of the movie, Peter O'Toole playing General Tanz gives one of the weirdest and poorest performances in a career full of weird performances. O'Toole gives us a fugitive from Madame Tussaud's, complete with waxy face, staring eyes, slightly open mouth and all the subtlety of a sharp knife. The performance is so odd and exotic that I felt nothing for the character, bad or good; only the wonder that the director Anatole Litvak didn't pinch his cheek to see if O'Toole were alive. If it weren't for the inherent morbid fascination with Nazi high doings and the skill of some of the other actors, O'Toole would have, in my opinion, sunk this ship.

But what first-rate actors there are: Donald Pleasence, so insignificant looking and yet so subtle and skilled an actor. The movie becomes interesting every time he shows up. Charles Gray, not yet in the really hammy part of his acting career, does a wonderful job as the self-serving, shrewd fence sitter. Coral Browne excelled in imperious and selfish members of the upper crust and she doesn't let us down as a Nazi. Philippe Noiret as Inspector Morand, who finally in 1965 is able to repay a debt to Grau and bring a psychopath to justice, is just fine. Even Tom Courtenay as a German corporal does an interesting job as a young man who comes into contact with Tanz and pays a price. At first I thought he was miscast, but then I realized he was the only major member of the cast who seemed normal.

Great chunks of the movie could have been edited out with no one noticing...but then two-thirds of the movie would have been on the cutting room floor. The Night of the Generals is like nasty gossip, fun at first, eventually tiresome...but then you wouldn't mind a little more. Just keep your finger on the fast forward button.

Wide screen, yes, but the two sides of the picture have been cut off, at least for the credits. Picture quality is nothing special but adequate. There are no extras. There are chapter stops but no menu index for them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entartete Kunst Psycho., 12 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Night Of The Generals [DVD] (DVD)
A superb ensemble cast of very good actors. A strong script focusing on shenanigans within the German army hierarchy during the final years of WW2 and 20 years after. This is a straightforward story about deceit during the war of a murderer in a position of privilege and their complete lack of moral fibre.
The acting is excellent as is the direction and set designs - some of which are the old sound stage type of setting. My DVD was second-hand and quite a few years old, but the quality of the image was par excellence - better than most contemporary DVDs when compared against visual quality. The cinematography was first class; and wide-screen, which bought back my childhood watching movies made in Todd AO format.
If you are looking for war action, then this is not for you. If you wish to watch a movie set primarily in Paris with a few reasonable second unit tales around the Champs-Élysées/Rivoli/St Michel, along with a good yarn and good acting, then this is well worth an evening-in.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS, 24 Nov 2013
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I haven't seen it for decades but it didn't disappoint. Peter O'Toole at his psychotic best. It was overshadowed in the 1960s by Lawrence of Arabia but has held up well. The vignettes were marvelous - Pleasence, Noiret etc.

One historical inaccuracy grated - Rommel wasn't involved in the July 1944 bomb plot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Film, 27 Oct 2013
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Excellent film which needs your concentration to follow the plot.

However, worth the effort and the time spent for DVD.
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5.0 out of 5 stars review for "night of the generals DVD., 26 Sep 2013
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this was an excellent war film and a damned good mystery as well. I would highly recmmend it to anyone.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Night of the Generals, 22 Sep 2013
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This is showing its age. It was quite sensational at the time, but has lost some of its power now. Peter O'Toole gives a fine buttoned-up performance, but he's the only real stand-out. The story is a bit thin and doesn't offer much insight into Nazi behaviour. It's really just waiting to see who-dunnit.
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The Night Of The Generals [DVD]
The Night Of The Generals [DVD] by Anatole Litvak (DVD - 2004)
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