Review: Castle Keep

Blu-ray & DVD: Castle Keep (1969)

Towards the latter stages of WWII, Major Abraham Falconer (Burt Lancaster) is leading a small group of American soldiers when the Count of Maldorais (Jean-Pierre Aumont) gives them shelter in his castle, in the hope that they will defend it against the advancing Germans. What follows is not your typical war movie, and one in which (among many things) Falconer beds the Count’s good lady (fair enough), Sgt. Rossi (Peter Falk) moves into the local boulangerie…because he’s a baker, and naturally the bakers wife immediately invites him into her bed (a bit weird), and Cpl. Clearboy (Scott Wilson) falls in love with a Volkswagen (now hold on a minute!). If you thought Kelly’s Heroes  was a different slant on a traditional war movie, Castle Keep will have you scratching your head in amazement.

Much like previous Indicator release Mickey One (review here), Castle Keep is a surreal movie where the lines between real life and fantasy are constantly blurred, while the viewer is taken on a visual trip through the meandering narrative. However, whereas Mickey One was driven by the high energy performance from Warren Beatty, Castle Keep’s cast give more deadpan performances, each one seemingly not quite gelling with the others, almost like a jigsaw puzzle where the picture is okay but the pieces have been cut out wrong and don’t quite fit together properly. Whether this was the intention of director Sidney Pollack, I have no idea. It just didn’t seem to flow properly for me, and truth be told, it became borderline annoying as the movie progressed.

Despite my misgivings about the narrative structure and performances, Castle Keep looks spectacular in this release from Powerhouse Films. The picture is superb and complements the fantastic cinematography by Henri Decaë and the special features are once again worth the price of the disc by themselves…the audio interview with Burt Lancaster being a particularly interesting highlight for me.

Castle Keep is another movie that probably divides viewers more than most mainstream stuff out today, but it is definitely worth watching to see what side of the opinion fence you sit.

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

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Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.