What movie turned out great even though everyone involved was convinced they were making a dud?

When Eagles Fly (1968) is one of my favorite war movies. Incidentally, it’s also Steven Spielberg’s favorite war movie.

However, this classic struggled to see the light of day and the main stakeholders did not believe at all in its potential.

When Clint Eastwood read the script, he found it “appalling.”

He only accepted the project because he had nothing planned at the time and was offered a comfortable fee of $800,000 (he also negotiated to be given a Norton P11 motorcycle as a bonus for making the film…).

Clint Eastwood’s main criticism of the script, written by best-selling war novelist Alistair MacLean ( The Guns of Navarone ), was that it contained too much expositional dialogue and unnecessary complications. The actor even insisted that some of his lines be taken out and given to his partner, Richard Burton. When an actor makes these kinds of demands, he has a real problem with the film!

Eastwood was so disinterested in the project that he refused to change his hairstyle for filming, preferring to keep his Sixties cut even though he was supposed to play a Forties soldier!

Richard Burton was no more enthusiastic about making the film, only agreeing to the project because his stepson was convinced it would boost his career and he needed a hit after a string of flops. Burton hated war films and hated the film after it was completed.

All this did not prevent the film from being a huge commercial and critical success.

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