Q&A with Anthony Waye (First Assistant Director), Peter Mullins (Art Director), Dennis Fraser MBE (Key Grip), Tessa Kennedy (Elliot Kastner’s wife) and Milica Kastner Kennedy (Elliot Kastner’s daughter)
It’s hard to think of any other World War II epic from the 60s that has endured - not only the test of time, but which continues to be adored by legions of dedicated fans. The BFI were also quick to recognise the Golden Anniversary of Where Eagles Dare, and as a result, provided a wonderful night of celebration at London’s NFT. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the event was a complete sell out. In fact, a great deal of my friends and colleagues had travelled from every corner of the UK in order to attend this very special night.
|Inside NFT 1 during the Q & A|
Prior to the film’s screening, and as a guest of the BFI, I was very fortunate to be invited to meet with some of the Kastner family and our three esteemed guests from the Where Eagles Dare crew; Dennis Fraser MBE (Key Grip), Peter Mullins (Art Director) and Anthony Waye (Assistant Director, 2nd unit). It was great to get these legends back together again for this event which was due largely to the efforts of Cinema Retro’s Dave Worrall.
|L to R - Dennis Fraser MBE (Key Grip), Peter Mullins (Art Director) and Anthony Waye (Assistant Director, 2nd unit)|
It was incredible to see the film again on the big screen and in all of its widescreen glory. For a digital presentation it looked pretty good too. The film was shown in a straight forward theatrical version without any of the roadshow elements such as the intermission, although I must confess, this would have been an exceptional bonus. Nevertheless, the film opened and finished to full, appreciated applause from the packed NFT 1 audience.
After a short break, the stage was prepped for the Q & A session where the aforementioned crew members were also joined by Tessa Kennedy (Elliot Kastner’s wife) and Milica Kastner Kennedy (Elliot Kastner’s daughter). It’s always rewarding to hear these stories first hand and from the people that were actually there. Many areas were covered, the technical issues of filming, how foam was used from the local fire brigade to cover trees when the real snow refused to meet their filming schedule, the testing of the stunt teams courage and how Clint was one of the most charming and delightful people to work with. It was also nice to hear that Milica Kastner Kennedy still gathers up the grandchildren (who were also present) to watch the movie whenever it received a Christmas showing on television. In fact, the overall feeling was one of continued love. It was obviously a production which was also an enjoyable experience, a rare and rewarding shoot, and one in which the ripples and good vibes continue to spread widely.
There was a great deal to be enjoyed last night – the gathering of these master technicians and skilled craftsman are bound to become rarer and rarer. Age is the cruel factor which will always have a bearing on these charming and rewarding reunions and as such, they should be treasured.
So undoubtedly, we would like to thank everyone involved - from the Kastner family who put a great deal of effort into making this event happen, the BFI and their continued commitment to excellent cinema, our three very special and extraordinary guests who brought a genuine, undisputed sense of realism to the proceedings, and of course the fans who continue to support the film and add to its ongoing legacy.
I would personally like to thank; Liz Parkinson PR Manager, BFI Cultural Programme for making this happen for The Clint Eastwood Archive. I would also like to thank a great group of people and very special friends in helping to make this a special day; Dave Worrall, Davy Triumph, Dave Chantry, Neil Thomson, Mal and Jayne Baker, Mark Ashby and Sharon.