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The Night Of The Generals (1966) [VHS]

4.1 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Tom Courtenay, Donald Pleasence, Joanna Pettet
  • Directors: Anatole Litvak
  • Writers: Hans Hellmut Kirst, James Hadley Chase, Joseph Kessel, Paul Dehn
  • Producers: Anatole Litvak, Sam Spiegel
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Columbia Tristar
  • VHS Release Date: 1 Jun. 1998
  • Run Time: 138 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004RSAY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 230,578 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

In Warsaw, 1942, a prostitute is brutally murdered and it is rumoured that a German General is the man responsible. A special investigator (Omar Sharif) is called in to clear up the controversy, and narrows the suspects down to three high-ranking Nazi officers: Tanz (Peter O'Toole), Kahlenberge (Donald Pleasence), and Von Seidlitz-Gabler (Charles Gray). However, it will take many years, and the occurrence of another murder, before the killer is unmasked.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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Comment 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 17 Oct. 2004
Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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