Posted at 4:39 PM on February 6, 2006
by Euan Kerr
A box from a major on-line retailer arrived at the Kerr household in celebration of my completion of another year in this mortal coil. These things are always complicated. My family is always generous, and feels a need to mark the big day.
But frankly, I have enough stuff. I am a horrible pack-rat and I need to divest myself of things more than accumulate.
I thought I had come up with a good plan. My Dad asked me what I wanted, and I came up with a DVD of "Where Eagles Dare." It's the Richard Burton/Clint Eastwood vehicle from 1968 about a group of elite commandos sent into Germany during World War II to rescue a captured US General. It's dead of winter and he's being held in a mountain-top castle surrounded by thousands of troops. Of course Burton and Eastwood pull it off with aplomb. When I was 8 it was the coolest movie around.
This movie is a huge favorite back in Britain, and is actually a considered almost as much a part of Christmas TV as "It's a Wonderful Life." Yes, I know it's weird, and I don't know why a war movie is considered fine holiday fare, but it is. Clearly it's not such a big deal on this side of the pond, which is why I thought it was a great idea for a present. It was available cheap through the big retailer, and it was actually a movie I could see myself watching a bunch of times.
Also we have been trying to get Dad to be a little more web-savvy, and this seemed like an opportunity.
So the box arrives. There are five DVD's inside: "Where Eagles Dare," "The Dirty Dozen," "Kelly's Heroes," "Von Ryan's Express," and "Paint Your Wagon." It seemed Dad had fallen prey to the "Customers who bought this DVD also bought..." feature.
At first I worried. "So much for cutting back." Then I pondered a while. "Lots of explosions hidden in there," I thought.
"Oh, cool! I sang 'I talk to the trees' all through High School," said my beloved, peering over my shoulder. That raised so many questions about my wife, but I decided I just didn't want to go there.
It's my experience that the songs in "Paint Your Wagon" has always caused strange reactions. It must be because Clint Eastwood really does sing to the trees at one point, but then there is that extraordinary Lee Marvin song. At my high school there was a standing joke about certain folk being "Wandering Stars" too.
But that's beside the point. I find myself willing to set aside my divestment policy for a while. I now have hours and hours of war movies to watch. The question is when?