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The Ending Scene
Written by: Pär Lundqvist
Published: WED - Unofficial homepage
Date: Saturday, April 13, 2002

Did you know there are actually three different endings to Where Eagles Dare? The most known is probably the one used in the movie. The movie ends when the camera zooms out from our heroes during their fly back to England, having accomplished their mission. They all seem very tired and the only one who does not fall asleep is Mary, who plasters Major Smith's injured hand. Nothing of further interest happens, in contrast to the novel. The novel ends with a kiss between Lieutenant Schaffer and Heidi. If you have only seen the movie, this might be a surprise for you, as Schaffer and Heidi hardly see each other in the movie. In the novel, on the contrary, he can't stop talking about Heidi from the moment he saw her. In the novel, the kiss is just the natural ending scene.

But in the movie we see no love between the two. Why? To answer that question we have to go to the third alternate ending of Where Eagles Dare, namely the one as written by the author Alistair MacLean in the original script.

Maclean was commissioned to write the original script by the New York producer Elliot Kastner. MacLean made up a script with a big wedding ceremony between Schaffer and Heidi in the ending scene. They got married! Kastner did not like this scene at all and assigned director Brian G. Hutton to rewrite the ending scene. Well, in fact not only the ending scene but the whole script! The script was to long, Kastner though - 240 pages. To avoid a too long film, Kastner and Hutton managed to cut down the script to only 100 pages. Anyway, the ending had to be rewritten. But they did not look very far to find that alternative ending; they copied the ending from another novel by MacLean.

In 1961 Maclean wrote the novel "The Dark Crusader" (AKA "The Black Shrike"). A novel about the special agent Bentall who, after completed his mission on the island Vardu in the Pacific Ocean, reveals that his boss, Colonel Raine, is a traitor. In the end, Bentall shoots his boss and make it look like suicide. Kastner and Hutton transformed this end to fit Where Eagles Dare. They changed Raine's office to an airplane and switched Bentall for Major Smith and Colonel Raine for Colonel Turner. Instead of having Smith shoot Turner, they had Turner commit suicide. Appart from these differences, the ending scene of the movie "Where Eagles Dare" is the same as that in "The Dark Crusader".

The scene when Heidi and Lieutenant Schaffer got married was actually shot, but, as you already now, not used. It's now a very sought after piece for collectors, we are proud to offer it in our Where Eagles Shop. So imagine: one of the most high-pulse action movies could have had an end with a wedding! In that case it would have been two brittish military movie-marriages in 1969; Lieutenant Morris Schaffer in "Where Eagles Dare" and Commander James Bond in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". Who do you think would have been the most beautiful bride: Heidi Schmidt or Countessa Teresa di Vicenzo?

User Comments:

Paul (2004-10-25)
in my copy of the book the ending is the same as the film with turner throwing himself out of the plane
Greg McCreanor (2005-08-22)
I find the reference to "The Dark Crusader" curious as the ending to MacLean's 1962 novel "The Satan Bug" is more similar to the ending of "Where Eagles Dare". In "The Satan Bug"
the climax takes place in a helicopter over London with the villain Scarlatti being in control of the situation. The tables are turned, the hero Cavell ends up with a pistol, and he allows Scarlatti to step out of the helicopter.
The almost-final comment by Scarlatti is "You never really expected to see me in the Old Bailey ?" ; similar to Wyatt-Turner's "Can you really see me in the Tower ?"
This is conjecture on my part and I'm keen to know whether the reference to "The Dark Crusader" is also conjecture or whether MacLean actually mentioned this.
annoyed site visitor (2006-02-04)
I find it rude to critisise Where Eagles dare so much! Shame on you a film is a film!!!!! Why dont you try making a feature lengh film!! You just have to find something wrong with everything!!!!!
annoyed site visitor (2006-02-04)
I find it rude to critisise Where Eagles dare so much! Shame on you a film is a film!!!!! Why dont you try making a feature lengh film!! You just have to find something wrong with everything!!!!!
I agree with annoed person!!!! (2006-05-14)
damn right
Site visitor (2006-05-23)
I think the people who have made comments about the writer criticising the film are being silly. He is only giving you information about the ending. Hollywood is infamous for taking a story and twisting it to make it palatable to the audience. Bearing in mind back in 1968 the main income source of a film was not to be made on dvd. The film was reliant upon the audience going to a cinema to see it. Therefore, a 4 hour epic is going to put people off, especially as seating in those days was hardly luxurious.
Recent films such as Braveheart and U571 have taken a basic story and given them hollywood treatment, where the original is nothing like the true story. So the writer of this article is trying to make you aware of this annoyed visitors, who sound like they actually made the films themselves!.

The ending in my opinion is important, but this film is more about the sheer bravery (foolhardiness) of the men in ww2. Many of whom undertook not disimilar missions to this, risking their lives for the Allied Forces. The whole film is about the atmosphere of the times and the people who worry about the ending are missing the whole picture.
Neil Thomson (2008-07-22)
I think Brian Hutton/ Elliott Kastner did a good job on the movie... Its a fine piece of movie history..
Adam Loretz (2008-11-22)
Great War 'Movie', not so much War Film like The Longest Day say. Quotable between like minded cineastes and Boys Own enthusiasts! Excellent site. Now I just gotta see the wedding scene!
Icekrusher (2009-09-25)
The most important thing about this film is.....Entertainment! It took all of us to a very special place during a very special time in history. I saw this film in 1969 with my parents in California and I was in awe!!!! I still am!!
Eric Westerlund (2010-02-25)
Everything about this film is outstanding. Did it win any Academy Awards? I've seen it in Theatre's, on T.V.,and I own a D.V.D. of it.
Mise Eire (2011-08-06)
According to the IMDB website, WED got 2 Laurel Award nominations (Laurels were awarded from the late 50s to the early 70s), one for "Action Drama", the other for "Action Performance" (Clint Eastwood). It does not appear to have WON any awards at all.
Tony (2011-11-02)
Heidi was sexy
Ye Old Projectionist (2012-07-07)
It was a long movie and should have undergone tighter editing. Apart from that, the editing in other respects was good along with the direction.
rob lonsdale (2012-07-08)
where can I aquire the time delayed explosives used by clint and r b in the film??
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