21 Hours at Munich (1976)
A dramatization of the incident in 1972 when Arab terrorists broke into the Olympic compound in Munich and murdered eleven Israeli athletes.
★★★ Watched by Paul D 12 Jun 2019
A retelling of the events at the 1972 Munich Olympics when Black September took a group of Israeli athletes hostage, demanding the release of 234 Palestinians being held in Israel.
The story is told almost entirely from the viewpoint of the West German authorities, principally Chief of Police Manfred Schreiber as they liase with an intransigent Israeli government who are unwilling to give in to a single demand.
The film has some decent cultish credentials with some of it’s choices of actors, so we have Glossu Rabban and Krug Stillo as hostages and Django as the leader of the terrorists (that’s Paul Smith, David Hess and Franco Nero). Nero is the only one of the Palestinians who gets anything to do while the other two, along with the rest of the Israelis simply sit around tied up waiting for the inevitable.
The rest of the cast are a mixture of American, German and Austrian actors which leads to an interesting mix of accents particularly when two of the more prominent roles, that of the Chief of Police and Chancellor Willy Brandt go to William Holden and Richard Basehart respectively, neither of whom do anything to alter their normal voices while other actors do, and do so effectively.
So we have the pair of them sounding exactly how you would expect them to sound, which I suppose is preferable to them trying to put on an accent, which is what Anthony Quayle does in his role as General Zvi Zamir.
This is why I always feel like the most sensible way to go, if you chose not to use actors of an appropriate nationality, is English actors, I always feel as the regular English accent is neutral and can stand in for anything non-English. Or as here in the case of Shirley Knight, an American actress playing the role of a German mediator, she very cleverly flattens her accent until there’s no trace of an American tinge but stops short of adding a Germanic inflection. It’s a very smart choice and one which I wish more actors would make.
As you can tell I’ve got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about accent work and for me at least having Holden at the centre of the action sounding like Joe Gillis or J J Sefton or Pike Bishop but nothing like a German police officer, and as for Richard Basehart….
So in summary it seems like a perfectly serviceable telling of the events, I haven’t seen Munich so I’ve no idea how it stacks up, but you do feel as if it’s missing something by pretty much ignoring both the hostages and the hostage takers.
2.86GB | 1h 41m | 1024×556 | mkv