The magpie eclecticism of Geoff Dyer is something to wonder at. His books are like party turns, each one different from the last while all bearing his distinctly puckish signature ... Dyer makes for a droll guide, combining a scene-by-scene breakdown of the film’s silliness with gonzo riffs on its cultural legacy ... less a work of film criticism than a jeu d’esprit ... it’s not the movie itself that holds him, or us, but its effectiveness as nostalgia, its throwback to a more innocent time when a man with a Schmeisser machine gun and a length of thin rope could seemingly win the war for Britain and be back home in time for tea.
... [Dyer's] brilliant descriptions of the film’s key scenes leave us in little doubt that the relentless action and the twists and turns of the plot are viscerally rewarding ... Dyer’s wry humour is everywhere evident, as when he describes Eastwood’s trademark squint ('Eastwood has basically squinted his way through five decades of superstardom'), or when, as an aside, he wonders if the castle has a well-stocked stationery cupboard. 'There is never a dull moment in Where Eagles Dare,' he writes, and nor is there in this book.
Delightful ... a very funny book. It’s occasionally a moving one ... somehow manages to stay lively while talking us through the entire plot of the film ... Some of Dyer’s targets are well-worn, but he finds fresh routes of attack ... The archness is occasionally exhausting ... remains a delightful celebration of a martial pop culture that flourished between the Suez Crisis and the rise of Mrs Thatcher. File with your bound sets of Commando comics.
Dyer has a lot of fun ... There are plenty of decent quips ... Ultimately, we know that Where Eagles Dare is a piece of gripping, stirring silliness — and that this book is in on the joke. Nonetheless, Dyer does leave a big thought lingering — those wet Sunday afternoons spent watching old war films have helped to shape our sense of self, our national memory.
Dyer is that rare breed of creative nonfiction writer who can take almost any topic and make it his own ... Dyer’s favorites, a movie he’s seen countless times. This insightful, funny, and wildly enthusiastic book is essentially the literary version of live-tweeting a film ... If you’ve never seen Where Eagles Dare, there’s still plenty to enjoy here, thanks to Dyer’s irrepressible style; but if you’re a fan of the film, you can’t ask for a more entertaining companion book.
A curious literary artefact ... It’s all highly entertaining, and a fine excuse to watch the movie again, even if it could have used a bit more research ... Dyer can’t help writing brilliant sentences even if he is not always trying very hard.
Sometimes the smart-aleckery comes perilously close to a form of Dad humour, if the Dad in question had spent too much time at the Venice Biennale ... If all this makes it sounds as if Broadsword Calling Danny Boy is only an exercise in being jauntily superior, it should be emphasised that Dyer also loves Where Eagles Dare as you only can love the films of your youth (he was 10 when it came out) and has seen it innumerable times. The book isn't overburdened with ideas, and perhaps could have done with a bit more meta-criticism. But he is a great noticer and a great describer, so the final effect combines well the mockery and rapt devotion that are essential to the camp enjoyment of the movies.
A witty gem of personally inflected film analysis. ... Dyer lovingly and obsessively dissects ... shows off an exquisite eye for visual detail and actorly gesture ... also exhibits an impressive breadth of reference ... In footnotes, Dyer is breezily reminiscent, as when he muses about always stumbling upon the film on late-night TV at the exact same scene and nodding off 10 minutes later, as if it was the only sequence that’s ever broadcast. The book complements a popcorn classic while functioning in quite a different register—in place of grandiose, visceral big-screen thrills, Dyer’s fleet work gives off a playful, often funny intellectual high.
Ever the sharp-eyed observer, [Dyer] points out a number of anachronisms that escaped the filmmakers ... he endeavors to place the final portion of the film (when the successful heroes flee the Nazi castle) in the tradition of other getaway films ... An erudite and amusing love song to a loved one the writer knows is not all that deserving.