I’ve got several of Alistair MacLean’s books on my shelf: Guns of Navarone, Force 10 from Navarone, The Partisans, When Eight Bells Toll, Ice Station Zebra and a few others.

While I enjoy his books, he has the very rare distinction of being one author where the movies were better. He joins Ian Fleming in that distinction and it maybe for the same reason. MacLean, like Fleming, lived a lot of what he wrote about. And though his works were fictional, he based them on real events. Because of that, he may have let experience and reality hold himself back. Hollywood had no hesitation to push believability and took the action in each of his stories up a few notches.

Where Eagles Dare was a good book, but the movie took the twists and turns and action to a whole other level while giving us one of the greatest exchanges in film history.

Mary Ure: I nearly froze to death in that damn plane. Why couldn’t you have supplied some hot water bottles or an electrically heated suit? I thought you loved me.

Richard Burton: I can’t help what you think.

The movie is great and still holds up after all these years. And there’s no denying that the foundation for it is in the original story. Everything that makes the movie great is in there. All of his books are like that. The movies just amped them up.

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