Whilst Sydney Pollack may not have been the most prolific of directors (he only made 20 features), the films he did make were almost always of the highest quality. He won an Oscar for Out of Africa and also received nomination for Tootsie and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Other notable works include The Firm, Jeremiah Jones and The Way We Were. Whilst Castle Keep might not be as well known, it’s a rather intriguing and poetic take on war drama.
A rag-tag group of American soldiers take shelter in a Belgian castle. Led by the one-eyed Major Falconer (Burt Lancaster), their exploits are narrated by Private Benjamin (Al Freeman Jr.). Whilst Captain Beckman (Patrick O’Neal) is obsessed with saving the art, Sergeant Rossi (Peter Falk) is more concerned with baking. The major is having an affair with the Countess (Astrid Heeren). Which the Count (Jean-Pierre Aumont) doesn’t seem to mind. Indeed, he encourages it. Oh, and the Germans are coming.
Castle Keep is a very unusual but highly entertaining war film. However, don’t expect much in the way of fighting. Pollack emphasises the poetry in conflict. The plight of those men sent off to a strange continent to battle against an ideology. It’s an anti-war film, without being anti-war. The cast are great, particularly Falk, but it’s the strange surrealist touches which make it such an interesting tale. Castle Keep is a film which grows with age. As much a metaphysical treatise as an action film.
Indicator limited edition special features:
• High Definition remaster
• Original mono audio
• Alternative 4.0 Surround sound track
• The John Player Lecture with Burt Lancaster (1972, 100 mins): audio recording of an interview conducted by Joan Bakewell at the National Film Theatre, London
• The Lullaby of War (2017, 18 mins): a new interview with actor Tony Bill about his experiences making Castle Keep
• Eastlake at USD (1968, 29 mins): an archival, videotaped interview with the acclaimed author of the original Castle Keep novel, William Eastlake
• Original theatrical trailer
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Brad Stevens, archival interviews with Sydney Pollack and Burt Lancaster, and original pressbook material
• World premiere on Blu-ray
• Limited Dual Format Edition of 3,000 copies
Castle Keep is released on dual format Blu-ray and DVD by Powerhouse Films as part of the Indicator Series on Monday 24 July.