Valley of Eagles (1951) | A thrilling espionage adventure from future Bond director Terence Young

Valley of Eagles

Stockholm research scientist Nils Ahlen (John McCallum) discovers a new way of turning sound waves into electrical energy. When his neglected wife Helga (Mary Laura Wood) and young assistant Sven (Anthony Dawson) steal the formula, Nils joins Inspector Peterson (Jack Warner) in hunting them down.

Enlisting the aid of a band of Laplanders, Petersen and Nils find themselves heading into the Northern frontiers, a desolate waste where the nomadic Sami and their reindeer herds eke out a precarious living. Among their number is Kara (Nadia Gray), a spirited young girl who shows Nils the errors of his ways in putting his research before love.

Valley of Eagles

This British 1951 espionage film was directed by Terence Young, who would go on to helm the James Bond classics Dr No, From Russia With Love and Thunderball. Guns, gadgets, wit and women were the hallmarks of Young’s 007 adventures, and this snowbound adventure certainly shows signs of Young’s penchant for thrills and spills with three major highlights: the stampeding herd of reindeer plunging over a precipice, the Laplanders’ trained eagles swooping on a pack of marauding wolves, and a mighty avalanche.

Shot on location in Sweden’s Abisko National Park, the film’s hero is the stunning Lapland mountain scenery, which is beautifully captured in Harry Waxman’s monochrome photography. The masterful cinematographer also lends the film’s Stockholm sequences a suitably stark and Noir-ish feel, while the rousing spy score is provided by none-other than Nino Rota.

Valley of Eagles

Director Young isn’t the only Bond connection here as Anthony Dawson (Sven) also appeared in the director’s Dr No and was the first screen incarnation of supervillain Ernst Blofeld in From Russia With Love (although we never see his face). While Christopher Lee, who played Scaramanga in The Man With the Golden Gun, takes a small role here as a surly detective. And talking of policemen, Jack Warner (Petersen), would later find fame as Dixon of Dock Green (1955-1976). Australian actor John McCallum, meanwhile, ended up moving back Down Under in the late-1960s, where he became a producer on TV shows like Skippy and on films like the 1971 Western Australian-set comedy Nickel Queen (which so deserves a release).

The Fabulous Films UK DVD release also includes a number of photo galleries, original cast and crew biographies and original press stories.


About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on March 22, 2014, in British Film, Might See, Might-See, Thriller and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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