December 16th, 2014: Castle Keep

Cast and Crew: Sydney Pollack (Director); Jean-Pierre Aumont, Scott Wilson, Tony Bill, Al Freeman Jr., James Patterson, Bruce Dern

What It’s About:  While the Battle of the Bulge rages and the German Army approaches, a group of American walking wounded recuperating in a 10th century castle must decide if they should join the retreat, or make a final stand.  At the same time art historian Captain Lionel Beckman (Patrick O’Neal) attempts to persuade their commanding officer, professional solider Major Abraham Falconer (Burt Lancaster) to force the fight elsewhere to protect the castle and it’s art collection.

Why Watch it Today?:   The Battle of the Bulge began today in 1944.  While Castle Keep is not a conventional or historical war film but instead a surreal meditation on the nature of conflict and the value of art and history, it is an excellent film.  Castle Keep features strong performances from its cast, particularly Lancaster, O’Neal, and Peter Falk (stealing the show as Rossi, a baker-turned-Sergeant), beautiful images from cinematographer Henri Decae, and surreal situations much improved from William Eastlake’s tepid novel.

Where to Get It:  Amazon or iTunes; YouTube; Netflix (DVD)

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