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21 Hours at Munich (1976)

William Holden , Shirley Knight , William A. Graham  |  NR |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: William Holden, Shirley Knight, Franco Nero, Anthony Quayle, Richard Basehart
  • Directors: William A. Graham
  • Writers: Edward Hume, Howard Fast, Serge Groussard
  • Producers: Edward S. Feldman, Frank Baur, Frank von Zerneck, Robert Greenwald
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Anamorphic, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: December 20, 2005
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BNXD5A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,856 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "21 Hours at Munich" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

September 5, 1972. The darkest day in sports history. Some 900 million sports fans tune in to watchthe Olympics on TV. Instead, they see the most shocking scenes unfold... Academy AwardÂ(r) winner William Holden (Best Actor 1953, Stalag 17) and Academy AwardÂ(r) nominee Shirley Knight (Best Supporting Actress Nominee 1962, Sweet Bird of Youth) turn this real-life catastrophic event into a mesmerizing story of suspense, anger and disbelief. The perpetrators wear tracksuits, but they are anything but athletes. Known as Black September, these Arab terrorists storm the Olympic village before dawn andtake the Israeli team hostage. They make their demands as the minutes tick by. But from this point on, it isn't about who takes home the gold. It's about who comes home at all.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid television movie on the Munich massacre of 1972 February 4, 2006
I can tell you up front that "21 Hours at Munich" is a much more detailed look at that Olympic massacre in 1972 than you will find in Steven Spielberg's film "Munich." In point of fact, Spielberg is not telling the story of what happened on September 5, 1972 in his film but exploring its aftermath. This made for television movie aired in 1976 (in November, so it was after the Montreal Summer Olympics that year). The release of the film two decades later was certainly motivated by the impending release of Spielberg's Oscar nominated film, but since it is an earnest dramatization of the events of that day, it will make an appropriate counterpart to the theatrical film.

The screenplay by Howard Fast (writer of the novel "Spartacus") and Edward Hume ("The Day After") is based on Serge Groussard's book "The Blood of Israel and focuses on what happened in Munich, part of what was then West Germany, that day in September when a group of Palestinian terrorists calling themselves Black September invaded the dormitory rooms of the Israeli athletes, killing two of them and taking another nine hostage. Issa (Franco Nero), the leader of the terrorists, demands the release of 250 Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel, but Prime Minister Golda Meir (Else Quecke) flatly refused to deal with the terrorists. This left it to the German government to try and rescue the hostages. Chief of Police Manfred Schreiber (William Holden) became the point man for their efforts, although Chancellor Willy Brandt (Richard Basehart) and Interior Minister Bruno Merk (Noel Willman) are involved in the fatal decisions as the lives of Jewish men are once again in the hands of the German government, this time with the whole world watching.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 2 stars January 6, 2013
By River R
The best thing about this movie is that it was filmed at the actual places where the events took place. It is a very poorly acted movie. I suggest the documentary "One Day in September" which has a lot of actual news footage from the incident.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid TV-Movie Dramatization of Historic Tragedy December 25, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Television has always been quick to capitalize on real-life crime tragedies, and few such events were as earthshaking as the kidnapping of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the crime's eventual tragic resolution. 21 Hours at Munich is a surprisingly well made recreation of those events that boasts a cast considerably above the TV-movie norm.

William Holden stars as the German cop in charge of the investigation and negotiations, while Franco Nero plays the chief terrorist. Unlike Steven Spielberg's Munich, this movie concentrates solely on the crime itself, beginning by showing how the terrorists easily enter the Olympic Village and are able to subdue most of the members of the Israeli team. From there, it's a cat-and-mouse game of negotiations and threats between terrorists and police.

Holden is solid, and his casting was undoubtedly a coup for a TV movie of the week (the film was made immediately before he got his last Oscar nomination for Network). He makes no pretense at speaking with a German accent which some may find disconcerting, although if you are interested in what he is saying it shouldn't matter. His character is well aware of the importance of what they do and how the world will view it, which leads to eventual bickering among the police, military, and political leaders (including Richard Basehart as Willy Brandt).

Similarly, Nero is solid and grounded. The movie wisely avoids turning him into a wide-eyed fanatic; instead, he is a professionally determined man with a dangerous political agenda. By keeping the two leads as competent, solid professionals, the movie is able to build suspense, even if the eventual resolution is well known in advance.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By lplynn
Format:Amazon Instant Video
After watching this movie for about 40 minutes, I had to turn it off because I was so distracted by the miscasting of William Holden as the German Chief of Police and Franco Nero as the Leader of (and Chief Negotiator for) the Palestinian Terrorists that I couldn't concentrate on the story being told. Maybe my standzads are too high, but when actors portray characters of another country, I expect to hear accents and see mannerisms characteristic of that country. Neither actor delivered in this regard. William Holden played William Holden in this movie; every time I heard him speak, I had to remind myself that he was supposed to be portraying Germany's Police Chief, and not some American diplomat assigned to help resolve the Munich crisis. Nero similarly failed to present a believable character; rather his French accent combined with the numerous close-ups of him (& his blue eyes) made me think of his role as Lancelot in Camelot (a characterization in which he was very convincing). The movie (at least what I saw of it) did have some good points in authentically "re-creating" the clothing styles of the 1970's and in its "snapshots" of the Olympics environment, including its wide-angle aerial views of the Olympic Village & event spectators. I also thought that the performances of Shirley Knight as a representative of the Olympics Committee and the woman who played Golda Meir were pretty credible.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 19 days ago by leandro
4.0 out of 5 stars Impactful Movie Despite Shortcomings
Of course it is not technically perfect and some of the acting is wooden, but the movie is an honest and unbiased account of the tragedy in Munich. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rachel Freeny
4.0 out of 5 stars Although its not a documentary it was extremely useful for discussions...
I used this film in a Terrorism class I teach. Although its not a documentary it was extremely useful for discussions on many levels.
Published 2 months ago by Dave
4.0 out of 5 stars A History lesson
Met expectations. Always wanted to see the account of what happened in '72 and read that this account was as accurate as any other out there.
Published 3 months ago by Nii-Akwei
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Excellent movie
Published 3 months ago by Heather Ladaru
4.0 out of 5 stars Munich
Interesting movie! For as late in his career as william holden made this movie, it was done well! I never knew what and why this attack at the Olympics happened.
Published 12 months ago by Carolyn Ziede
5.0 out of 5 stars 1972 Munich Olympics
For a movie released in 1976 it still had an impact on me and gave me a good understanding of the incident. Read more
Published 13 months ago by realjade
1.0 out of 5 stars Munich Trash
This is a low budget movie that is so "see through" . . . . . . horrible acting ... poor set design
Published 19 months ago by Nick
3.0 out of 5 stars Too outdated in my opinion
Obviously it's better to just watch Spielberg's "Munich". This movie is outdated by now. Sure, it deals with the arab terrorist attack on israeli athlete's, which is just as... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Amiram Burg
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 Hours at Munich
This is an excellent video.It met all the expectations and I was indeed pleased. I also encourage those history fanatics to seek this video and follow the cause of history as it... Read more
Published on September 13, 2012 by A. Moloele
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