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Castle Keep (Full Screen Edition)

3.7 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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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.

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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

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Bruce Dern, Peter Falk, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Burt Lancaster, Patrick O'Neal
  • Directors: Sydney Pollack
  • Producers: Martin Ransohoff, John Calley
  • 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)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    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: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000F4OM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,263 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Castle Keep (Full Screen Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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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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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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By A Customer on July 17, 1998
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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Format: DVD
"Castle Keep" is an interesting early film by Sydney Pollack that, I'm sorry to say, is absolutely ruined by Columbia's foolish decision to release it pan & scan rather than in the correct aspect ratio. The film's beautiful widescreen cinematography is one of its greatest assets, but on the DVD parts of the film are actually hard to make sense of because half of the image is cut off. (...). With so many other great films out there to see, I recommend that you don't waste your time with this one until Columbia releases a better version. Too bad.
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Format: DVD
Yes it's true, Columbia has released this excellent movie in pan & scan! And to make it worse, contrary to what was said by an earlier reviewer, the original aspect ratio was not 1,85:1 but the full Panavision 2,40:1 framing (that's easy to check out, because the opening credits actually are shown in widescreen on the DVD). Well, that's it, folks, what we have here is another useless disc which all movie lovers should stay away from until Columbia finally understands what customers want.
1 star because I don't have any other choice (please Amazon, make it possible to give a 'Zero star' rating!)
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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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