Kerbang! Boom! Crash!
My copy of Operation Crossbow (R1 USA) arrived from DVD Pacific this morning. As I mentioned back in August, back in May 2006 Warner gave fans the chance to vote for which catalogue titles they would like to see released. The only title in the list that appealed to me was Operation Crossbow, a World War 2 spy/action movie that I’d loved ever since I happened to catch it on TV back in the early 1990s, so naturally it was the title I voted for. Apparently I’m not alone in my love of this film, for it was one of the five titles announced for a December 2006 released (another five will be released in January).
I’ve seen the film several times before, but never in its original 2.35:1 ratio. Uncropped, you really come to appreciate the scale of the piece, especially the cavernous underground set in which most of the film’s second half takes place. Warner’s transfer is also very nice: it’s certainly not a Casablanca or Citizen Kane style of restoration, but that suits me absolutely fine, because it looks just as I would expect a film from 1965 to look, with grain, white flecks and the occasional visible splice. I was a little concerned, initially, by the fact that the only English track on the disc is a 5.1 affair, but it turns out that the 70mm prints of the film were accompanied by a 6-track recording, on which I presume the DVD’s track was based.
But what of the film itself? How does it stack up after all these years? Very well, for the most part. It certainly runs hot and cold, thanks to a rather uneven pace and an inability to keep the focus on the spies/saboteurs once they enter the underground rocket lab (it keeps jumping back to London, where the goings-on are considerably less interesting). Sophia Loren, who gets top billing, is also wasted in a role that turns out to be not much more than a glorified cameo. Otherwise, though, this is a great mindless romp that keeps me engaged despite the two-hour running time. It’s no Where Eagles Dare, that’s for sure, but it is the sort of movie you can pull out every few years and still find as entertaining as it was the first time you saw it.