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Castle Keep (Full Screen Edition) (1969)

Burt Lancaster , Patrick O'Neal , Sydney Pollack  |  R |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Burt Lancaster, Patrick O'Neal, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Peter Falk, Astrid Heeren
  • Directors: Sydney Pollack
  • Writers: Daniel Taradash, David Rayfiel, William Eastlake
  • Producers: Edward L. Rissien, John Calley, Martin Ransohoff
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 4.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Japanese, Korean
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 20, 2004
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000F4OM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,092 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Castle Keep (Full Screen Edition)" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

It's 1944, a tired, one-eyed major, and his weary eight-man squad are lodged at CASTLE KEEP in the Ardennes Forest. Seemingly oblivious to the war that surrounds them, the nobleman who owns the castle, concerned only about his desire for a son and heir to inherit his castle and its possessions, arranges for the major to become his wife's lover. However, the major insists on preparing the castle and the village for an attack. When the German offensive arrives, the squad is able to heroically defend the village and castle.

Released to mixed reviews in 1969, Castle Keep now qualifies as a potent allegory for the insanity of the Vietnam War. In that respect it belongs in the same category as better-known anti-war films of the period including Little Big Man and The Wild Bunch, and director Sydney Pollack (who scored his breakthrough hit later that year with They Shoot Horses, Don't They?) deftly straddles a stylistic line between old-school Hollywood and the emerging counterculture epitomized by Easy Rider. He also gets a memorably off-kilter performance from Burt Lancaster (who had been instrumental in launching Pollack's directorial career), the young-looking Tony Bill (who later became a successful producer-director), and especially Peter Falk, who would soon gain TV fame as Columbo. As American soldiers occupying a richly-appointed medieval castle in the Ardennes Forest near the end of World War II, they're a M*A*S*H-like bunch of military misfits (including Bruce Dern as a conscientious objector) engaged in a microcosm of occupational warfare as German troops draw closer. The ending is uncompromisingly bleak, reflecting the futility of Vietnam with long-lasting resonance. From a latter-day perspective, Castle Keep is a bold hybrid of large-scale WWII action and political statement, which may explain why such high-profile filmmakers as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese successfully campaigned for a widescreen DVD after the release of this inferior full-screen version. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Multiple Realities of War March 22, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
As I saw this film and Midnight Clear again recently, I thought about Stanley Weintraub's book Silent Night in which he discusses a brief period prior to Christmas in 1914, on the battlefields of Flanders, when German and British soldiers spontaneously agreed to declare a truce and suspend fighting, thereby defying their commanding officers. Centuries ago, knights and their attendants would work with their enemies to clear a field for combat the next day. Such cooperation had an obvious practical value. That's not what interests Weintraub as he examines a temporary truce during one of the bloodiest wars ever fought. It had little (if any) practical or tactical value but it did (and does) suggest a human need which transcends military obligations. However, war is war. After a brief respite, the carnage inevitably resumes.
Directed by Sydney Pollack and based on William Eastlake's novel, it stars Burt Lancaster (Major Abraham Falconer), Patrick O'Neal (as Captain Lionel Beckman), and Peter Falk (as Sergeant Orlando Rossi). They and their five associates are in Belgium during the winter of 1944 when they seek some R&R in the 10th century castle of Count Henri Tixier and his wife, Countess Therese. The Count is impotent and desperate for his wife to produce a male heir. Falconer is an obvious candidate to help the Count achieve his objective. Meanwhile, the war in Europe continues, of course, but the castle keeps them safe from its dangers and deprivations.
While seeing this film the first time and then again recently, I felt as if I were dreaming that I had returned to the 1940s in a time machine, to Belgium near the end of World War Two.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unmatched valor April 24, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Burt Lancaster is poised,confident and unwavering in his devotion to duty as he leads a small squad of American soldiers in this unusual,intelligent film.A tenth-century castle filled with irreplacable art treasures is the focal point of the story.The Germans have broken through Allied lines near the castle,and battered American troops are rapidly retreating.Do Burt and his men also retreat and leave the castle and its treasures to the advancing Germans? Excellent verbal exchanges among the American soldiers and truly explosive combat sequences interwoven with touches of romance and art make this more than a "men only" movie.It dwells on many levels.A classic!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank goodness!! Widescreen as it Deserves... October 18, 2004
By votok
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A classic!

Sort of akin to the Wild Bunch in WWII in a Medieval Castle, this is an action film with tremendous performances, from the angst of the Castle Baron over fear for his treasure-filled palace to Burt Lancaster's grim ruthlessness and determination to stop the German onslaught at all costs. Patrick O'Neal turns in a great performance too as a well of pathos over the wanton destruction approaching. Ending Battle is both wrenching and astonishing. Not to be missed!

There are some very surreal moments in the film, with many atypical sequences. It's great that we will be able to enjoy this in Widescreen for it so richly deserves such a presentation. Many thanks to Columbia Tri-Star for listening to the fans!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A neglected masterpiece July 17, 1998
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This movie, and the book that inspired it, is a masterpiece. It is funny, tragic, surreal and true. It's an off-kilter take on world war II, art, civilization, and brotherhood. I loved the movie when it came out and was pleased when it finally appeared on video, purchasing it right away. It is exemplary film-making, from the photogrphy of Henri Decae, to the acting, the mise-en-scene, and the fine story.
I don't like to know much ahead of time about the story I'm going to see, and you may not either, so I'll just say that I envy you the experience of seeing this film for the first time. Don't miss it! END
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deft Blend of Satire and Action November 20, 2004
By bdlion
At times absurd and gut wrenching, this WW II allegory is both entertaining and thought-provoking. Some of the dialogue is outright funny and also ironic, but the movie is not played strictly for laughs. Indeed, the ending is both bleak and disheartening, but the action is relentless, uncompromising, and very violent.

I thought about the movie after it had ended, and wanted to watch it again. This is a movie that bears repeat viewings. Taken in its context of being released in 1969, the parallels to the futility of the Vietnam War are unmistakeable. As powerful an anti-war movie as PATHS OF GLORY and GO TELL THE SPARTANS (also starring Burt Lancaster...where's the DVD?), it is also a compelling adventure story filled with great perfomances (Burt Lancaster, Patrick O'Neal, and especially Peter Falk as a sergeant turned... baker!) and witty black humor tinged with non-sequitors and one-liners.

A must for war movie buffs, fans of Sydney Pollack, Burt Lancaster and Peter Falk, and lovers of over-the-top action/adventure. This edition just released is the anamorphic widescreen edition, which is far superior to the previous released pan and scan version.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underrated war movie May 3, 2003
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Castle Keep is a very good war movie with an excellent storyline that is a little different from other war movies. The story takes place in the Ardennes during WWII in the Battle of the Bulge. Eight walking wounded misfit Americans discover a castle whose count offers to let them stay there. The Americans must decide whether to stay and delay the Germans at the risk of destroying the beauty of the castle or just turning around and running for their own lines.
This movie boasts an excellent cast that includes Burt Lancaster, Peter Falk, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Tony Bill, Patrick O'Neal, and Bruce Dern. Lancaster gives another great performance as Major Falconer, the leader of the group. O'Neal is also very good as Captain Beckman, an art historian who wants to abandon the castle so it won't be destroyed by the advancing Germans. Another interesting performance is by Peter Falk as Sergeant Rossi, who disappears into the nearby town and becomes their baker. This movie has some anti-war messages, but at other times it is very funny. I hadn't heard of this movie before I saw it on TV, but it is very good. Well developed characters, good action, some humor, and an interesting if sometime out of place musical score. Either way this is a movie that is well worth watching.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a War movie..!??
Dont rent this if you want a war movie in the classic sense, ie "Battle of the Bulge", "Battleground", etc. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Hanomag
4.0 out of 5 stars Widescreen, are you sure?
I love this movie. I have had the full screen DVD addition for years and saw that a widescreen addition was now available. Boy did I jump on that...... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Gunnison
2.0 out of 5 stars Weird WW2 movie
They tried to be artistic with this one but it is weird to see. Some good action but it is as starnge as it sounds. Buy Devil's Brigade or Merrill's Maurauders instead
Published 8 months ago by M722
4.0 out of 5 stars Good action movie set at the Battle of the Bulge
A very believe able action yarn set at the time of the end of World War Two.So much of this movie is very real,yet it keeps you wondering "what going to happen next".
Published 13 months ago by David P. Rouleau
5.0 out of 5 stars Castle Keep, a different approach
Castle Keep is another very unusual and interesting approach to telling a tale about the great war, akin to Once Upon A Time In The West's unusual approach to telling a tale of the... Read more
Published 13 months ago by darkerthanamber
5.0 out of 5 stars Castle Keep (a movie based on a book by William Eastlake)
The movie Castle Keep feels like a combination of a classic French fairytale (Sleeping Beauty perhaps) with a story about a lost American unit in France World War II. Read more
Published 14 months ago by K. R. Norton
5.0 out of 5 stars good movie
i last saw this movie when it came out. it was just as strange as i remember it. thank you.
Published 16 months ago by james ross
5.0 out of 5 stars Very mixed bag
This strikes me as one of those "experimental" films that was made during the Vietnam war to try desperately to get the average joe to realize how crazy war could be. Read more
Published 21 months ago by PJR
2.0 out of 5 stars Take us to your castle!
What a waste of an otherwise fine cast. How can it tank (pun intended) with the likes of Burt Lancaster, Peter Falk, Patrick O'Neal and Jean-Pierre Aumont? Read more
Published on April 26, 2012 by Warbird Watcher
3.0 out of 5 stars Burt Lancaster and a Lost Squad
I hadn't realized until seeing the Amazon listing that this was filmed so early in Sidney Pollock's career. Read more
Published on April 24, 2012 by drkhimxz
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