Three Respected Generals. One is a Serial Killer. THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS (1967)

The Night Of The Generals is now available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time in a Limited Edition of 3,000 units.

In the midst of World War II, the grisly evisceration of a prostitute becomes the subject of a special investigation. A terrified eyewitnesses reveals a stunning clue: he saw the perpetrator leaving the crime scene, and that man wore the unmistakable uniform of a General. As the investigator (Omar Sharif) digs into the case, he narrows down the three Generals (portrayed by Charles Gray, Donald Pleasence, and Peter O’Toole) who fit the clues. Naturally, all three are indignant at being named as suspects in the case.

Meanwhile, a young man named Kurt unwittingly becomes a pawn in this dangerous crux. Disillusioned by the war and tired of being a soldier, he seeks an easy assignment in Paris, and ends up encountering all three generals in different capacities: He reports to the first for assignment of duties, secretly romances the pretty daughter of the second, and is tasked with acting as a chauffeur and personal guide for the third. It’s through young Kurt that the audience observes the three Generals and tries to unravel their mystery.

Omar Sharif’s intrepid investigator and the sensitive young Kurt are two of the three main protagonists of this film, which is unique for a very particular reason.

They’re Nazis.

Released in 1967, The Night of The Generals was a very daring and risky picture for prolific Jewish Austrian-American producer Sam Spiegel, banking on the hope that audiences would show up in theaters and become invested in the story of a high-profile serial killer case, even if that story took place in the setting of our most bitter enemies.

To be sure, the Nazi connections are actually quite soft in a way that makes them more palatable to audiences: In addition to seeking the truth in the case regardless of the high rank of his suspects, Omar Sharif’s Major Grau maintains a friendship with Mssr. Morand (Philippe Noiret), a member of the French Resistance, despite knowing of his association. Meanwhile, sensitive young Kurt Hartmann’s distaste for violence and lack of patriotism endears him to us, and as the film progresses many of the more likeable, “good” Nazi characters end up being part of Operation Valkyrie, the plot to kill Hitler. This might seem like a bit of a narrative cop-out to make the German protagonists more heroic, but it really does make the film more accessible — after all, nobody wants to root for straight-up Nazis.

The film is partially told in flashbacks, occasionally returning to modern times (the late 1960s) to focus on third protagonist, Mssr. Morand, now an inspector for Interpol. Morand has taken on his friend Major Grau’s unsolved case and intends to conquer the mystery of what are now several similarly murdered prostitutes, and apprehend the villain for good.

While most viewers will quickly deduce the mystery of which General is guilty of the crime, it’s the continuous paranoia and years-long quest for justice which keep the audience engaged through the film’s sequence of events.

The Package

The Night Of The Generals was released on Blu-ray by Twilight Time on June 9 in a limited edition of 3000 units. The disc comes with an 8-page booklet written by Julie Kirgo. My copy came in the now-standard transparent white case.

Special Features and Extras

Isolated Score Track

Original Theatrical Trailer (4:03)

A/V Out.

Blu-ray available at Twilight Time.

Get it at Amazon:
 [Blu-ray] | [DVD] | [Instant]

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