Castle Keep (1969) Surreal WW2 Fairy Tale With Burt Lancaster & A Bunch Of Sweet Ladies.

Castle Keep (1969) Burt Lancaster poster movie film peter falk

After watching director Sydney Pollack awesome film The Yakuza I searched for projects of his I may of missed and Castle Keep from 1969 is what I found. A World War Two movie with a big twist, that twist is, (no spoilers) it’s completely batty and totally off it’s shopping trolley. It also stars the legend Burt Lancaster playing the warmongering one eyed Major Abraham Falconer.

Castle Keep (1969) surreal world war two filmCastle Keep (1969) Burt Lancaster ragtag worn torn soldiers jeep mud

Major Falconer and his left over ragtag platoon of eight battle worn soldiers arrive at a foot of a beautiful medieval castle, looking pulled straight out of the pages of a fairy tale.  The castle is owned by The Count of Maldorais (Jean-Pierre Aumont) and his insanely gorgeous wife Therese (Astrid Heeren). Together they are surrounded by centuries of historic treasures and heirlooms passed down through the years.

Castle Keep (1969) castleCastle Keep (1969)Therese (Astrid Heeren) captain patrick oneal

Tagline – A one-eyed major and his oddball heroes fight a twentieth-century war in a tenth-century castle!

Now the Major sees this castle as the perfect stronghold to take on the approaching German army and wishes to make a stand. Whereas the Major has plans for war and battle, the rest of the group have very differing ideas. Captain Beckman (Patrick O’Neal) happens to be an art historian, wishing to save all the art from certain destruction and tries to plead with his superior to see sense. Both these two men find themselves distracted by the flirty alluring delights of the lady of the keep, Therese.

Castle Keep (1969) super sexy Therese (Astrid Heeren) in bedCastle Keep (1969) super sexy Therese (Astrid Heeren)

Now the rest of the gang are either all completely mad or delirious from past battles as they all have a series of bizarre quirks. None more so than Corporal Clearboy (Scott Wilson) who has an illicit affair with, wait for it….., a Volkswagen Beetle! Leading to some funny slap-stick gags. Then there’s Sergeant Rossi aka Columbo (Peter Falk) who finds a baker’s wife and settles down with a bakery in the war torn neighboring town.

The rest of the guys, Amberjack (Tony Bill), Sgt DeVaca (Michael Conrad), Elk (James Patterson) and Private Allistair Benjamin (Al Freeman Jr) take in the delights of the local whore house. The most amazing knocking shop there could ever be, called the “Reine Rouge” and set up like a psychedelic Victorian funfair with each beauty placed waiting for business in her little booth. Run by the mystical red queen madam, all these girls are happy to see these boys.

Castle Keep (1969) red light Reine Rouge visitCastle Keep (1969) Volkswagen Beetle loveCastle Keep (1969) red light Reine Rouge ladies

Outside in the town streets wandering around like lost souls is Lt. Billy Byron Bix (Bruce Dern) and his singing merry men of conscientious objectors. Singing away to anyone who will listen to them.

Sgt. Rossie – “You mean, you conscientiously object to fornicating?”

Castle Keep (1969) red light Reine Rouge bruce dern conscientious objectors

Add to the madness an actual big battle, some flute playing, surreal paintings, jokes and japes, a white horse and some impregnation cuckolding! All whilst being narrated and documented by young soldier Private Allistair Benjamin.

Castle Keep (1969) Burt Lancaster Private Allistair Benjamin (Al Freeman Jr)

Based on a book written by William Eastlake who was wounded during The Battle Of The Bulge and whatever meds and drugs they gave him they must of been damn strong! As this film is extremity unique and completely off the hook. Bizarre and surreal in buckets but is there a poetic fable under all the surrealism? What did you think? I kind of got the impression they could of been in some sort of limbo land, purgatory or it could just be the madness of war. It’s a quirky war time story which is made better for having good sport Burt accepting the role.

Castle Keep (1969) Burt Lancaster poster movie film peter falk patrick oneal

11 thoughts on “Castle Keep (1969) Surreal WW2 Fairy Tale With Burt Lancaster & A Bunch Of Sweet Ladies.

  1. Burt looks great, love both the cast and the poster but I’ve never really “gotten” this one. Leaves me wanting a straight forward good guys vs. the Nazi’s in a castle setting and of course it’s far from it and seems like an early version of MASH and Catch-22.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s strange one that for sure. You’ll right on the money about MASH and Catch 22 and maybe a dash of Kelly’s heroes too! I do like a film with an odd ball slant but I know what you’re saying. I’d be interested to see how close to the source material they stayed or whether Sydney Pollack added some of the crazy. Not likely to ever read it though :-/

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shades of Catch – 22 dialogue abound in this surrealistic movie and can also be seen in later war films such as When Trumpets Fade, also set about the same timeframe, 1944, in the nearby Hurtgen Forest battle. I’m still trying to figure out the line, “Did you hear a bird sing”? put forth by Peter Falk…think it was said twice in the movie…anyway, this was a phantasmagorical, allegorical, metaphorical nightmarish merry go round of a movie – but quite enjoyable nonetheless. Quirky, off beat and even has Bruce Dean doing his usual crazy, prophetic spouting character as seen in other movies during this era. If you liked this review, and how could you not, contact me at and I will go into even more excruciating detail on this movie – which I originally saw back in 1969 when I was 13. Peace out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Barney. Thank you for your very informative comment and dropping the word “phantasmagorical” on me 🙂
      I haven’t seen or heard of When Trumpets Fade. Added to the “to-watch-list”. Sounds like it might fit in nicely with A Midnight Clear (1992)
      Bruce Dern is wonderful, yeah he does get stamped with the lunatic role on many occasions. I believe Silent Running could be my favourite of his but I have a fair few I haven’t seen. Castle Keep is much fun isn’t it and quirky in all the right places. Must of blown your teenage mind watching it on the big screen. Thanks again for the movie tip too. All the best Mikey


  3. The last sentence of your first paragraph reads:
    ” It also stars the legend Burt Lancaster playing the warmongering one eyed Major Abraham Falconer.”
    I assure you Burt Lancaster (1913-1994) was not a legend. He was a real flesh-and-blood person. And his acting career spanned from 1946 until 1991.

    Or did you mean “…the legendary Burt Lancaster…”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for pointing that out Warren, I hadn’t really thought about it that way. Makes him sound more like a Robin Hood, King Arthur character or so like 🙂
      I was going for the other “Legend” in the dictionary. Though legendary is a much better fit.
      “an extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field.”
      Thanks so much for popping on by the blog but please be forewarned that reading my posts will infuriate you with bad grammar. Hehe Though I hope there’s some fun to be had. 🙂 All the best. Mikey


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