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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A rush job - and it shows, 14 May 2013
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Victory At Entebbe [DVD] [1976] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
the most star-studded of the three competing Entebbe films that raced to reach the screen first (and also the one with the best poster), Victory at Entebbe also manages to look the cheapest despite an all-star cast including Anthony Hopkins, Burt Lancaster, Richard Dreyfuss, Kirk Douglas, Elizabeth Taylor and Helmut Berger. Part of it is the bizarre decision to shoot on videotape on sets that look like they've been knocked up in a hurry by the lowest bidder - like the superior Raid on Entebbe [DVD] [1976], this was intended as a TV movie but got a subsequent theatrical release in an abridged version - making it look like a throwback to live 50s TV drama without the quality control. It's a real curate's egg, with decent scenes of the backstage political wrangling in the Israeli cabinet mixed with often atrociously written soap operatics among the hostages that make parts of it play like Airport 1976, a feeling only exacerbated by the presence of franchise veterans Helen Hayes and Linda Blair offering the kosher chocolates around (you keep on expecting a cigar-chomping George Kennedy to turn up as the mastermind behind the rescue plan). At times the two worlds collide, such as a scene where Hopkins' President Rabin's only reaction to the ferocious scenery-chewing from a table-thumping Douglas and a hyperventilating Taylor at their most self-indulgently overactorish is to do as little as possible in the hope that it'll all be over soon and if they don't notice him they'll just go away.

Some of the overacting is appropriate: cartoonish though he may seem, Julius Harris (standing in for Godfrey Cambridge after the actor died on his first day of filming) captures many of the comically over-exaggerated mannerisms that made the west regard Idi Amin as a figure of fun rather than the bloodthirsty mass murderer he really was. Unfortunately the script often falls into caricature, particularly with its Nazi stereotyping of the terrorists and reducing the hostages to the usual stock soap opera characters that the actors struggle with to varying degrees of success, with only Hayes, David Groh and Christian Marquand's pilot having enough half-decent material to come across as vaguely credible. The politicians and military fare better, with Hopkins, Lancaster and Harris Yulin helped immensely by not being saddled with hokey emotional subplots to appeal for audience sympathy, and the raid itself is fairly well handled despite the poor videotape used making it at times hard to make out the blurred details in the darker shots. But the constant feeling of watching two different scripts, one a political drama trying to weigh the moral risks and consequences, the other a substandard disaster movie aimed at the lowest common denominator, crudely taped together leave it a classic example of "Do you want it good or do you it Tuesday?" moviemaking where the answer was "We want it Monday. Sunday would be better."

Warner Archive's NTSC DVD-R release offers the 100-minute version that played in cinemas rather than the longer TV version in an unimpressve fullframe transfer that was doubtless limited by the poor quality of the original videotape image.
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Victory At Entebbe [DVD] [1976] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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