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The Eagle Has Landed is a 1976 film based on the book of the same name by Jack Higgins, detailing a fictional plot to capture or kill Winston Churchill by a group of German commandos. Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland and Robert Duvall star as the leader of the squad, their Irish nationalist liaison, and the German colonel in charge of masterminding the mission.

Tropes used in The Eagle Has Landed include:


  • All Germans Are Nazis: Averted. Steiner and his unit are depicted as chivalrous men of honor, and they are opposed to the persecution of Jews.
  • Anti-Villain: All of the German's and their allies are Punch Clock Villains who seek to avoid unnecessary casualties mostly and in some cases feel they have legitimate grievances against the British. The exception is Heinrich Himmler, who signed off on the mission and is pretty much as much a bastard as he was in Real Life.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Subverted. Steiner kills Churchill, but he was just a body double. The real Churchill wasn't even on the same continent.
  • Critical Research Failure / History Marches On/ Rule of Cool: In Real Life the Nazi's really did send a commando squad to assassinate Churchill, but they knew all about the Tehran Conference and sent them there, and Roosevelt and Stalin were targets as well. They were foiled before they got anywhere near him or any of the other leaders. Incidentally the mission was headed (from abroad) by Otto Skorzeny, the man who rescued Mussolini which in-universe inspired the events of the story.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Once the regular troops kick in, they don't let any chance to the German commando.
  • Doomed by Canon: If you know history, you will know that the Germans' do not succeed, and in fact, he wasn't even in the country at that point in time.
  • Fake Nationality: Almost all Germans are played by British actors. Also, Robert Duvall.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Steiner to his troops, who propose a Bolivian Army Ending while giving him cover to escape and complete the mission.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Admiral Canaris was in fact a member of the German Resistance, involved in several plots to kill Hitler, and shared information with British intelligence, and is unlikely to have signed off on a plot like this or at least done something to sabotage it. Men like Adler would likewise have been chosen for their Anti-Nazism as much as their competence. Subverted somewhat since they are still presented as sympathetic, sane and reasonable men, compared to Hitler and Himmler, and in the end Adler's underling is told Canaris will protect he and his family from Adler's fate at Himmler's hands.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Devlin and Steiner are both composites of numerous real life people, most of whom had much colder relations with the Nazi's. Averted with Heinrich Himmler, played to perfection by Donald Pleasance, and Admiral Canaris who in reality was involved in several plots to assassinate Hitler.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Hitler never signed off for the mission to capture Churchill; Himmler faked the order, and while visibly upset that the mission failed he was able to easily buck the blame to Adler and have him executed for "treason", since he was "exceeding his authority". Adler seems vaguely aware of this, but can't do anything about it, though he claims he was "measured out for my coffin months ago".
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