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Saturday July 21st 2018

The Eagle Has Landed | 1976

The Eagle Has Landed location: The 'George and Dragon': Pier House Hotel, Charlestown, Cornwall
The Eagle Has Landed location: The ‘Bell and Dragon’ pub: Pier House Hotel, Charlestown, Cornwall

WWII thriller, with Germans infiltrating an English village as part of a plot to kill Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

The snowy railway marshalling yard on the ‘Russian-Polish border’, where Colonel Steiner (Michael Caine) unsuccessfully attempts to save a Jewish prisoner, was filmed in the goods yard of Lapland’s capital, Rovaniemi – the biggest town on the Arctic circle and the official hometown of Santa Claus (it's true) – in Finland.

Cornwall stood in for the ‘Channel Islands’ and Berkshire for ‘East Anglia’.

‘Occupied Alderney’ – a Channel Islands town – was recreated at the harbour of Charlestown in Cornwall, on the coast 18 miles southeast of Newquay. The German communications post was built at the edge of the harbour, while the ‘Bell and Dragon’, the pub from which Liam Devlin (Donald Sutherland) gets ejected, is the town’s Pier House Hotel.

Charlestown Harbour was previously glimpsed in the 1993 version of The Three Musketeers, and more recently featured in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland.

Also in Cornwall was ‘Landsvoort Airfield’, where the captured DC3 is held, which was the RAF station at St Mawgans, five miles from Newquay.

The East Anglia village of ‘Studley Constable, Norfolk’ is actually Mapledurham, on the A329 just northwest of Reading, Berkshire.

The Eagle Has Landed location: The 'East Anglia' church: Mapledurham, Berkshire
The Eagle Has Landed location: The ‘East Anglia’ church: Mapledurham, Berkshire

Real locations include the church, where the villagers are held hostage, which was the Church of St Margaret (which now houses a small exhibition of photographs taken during the production) and the watermill, where the fake Polish soldier blows the Nazis’ cover. A fake waterwheel was added to the 15th century structure, it’s fully restored and working, producing flour you can buy in the gift shop.

The Eagle Has Landed location: The 'East Anglia' watermill: Mapledurham, Berkshire
The Eagle Has Landed location: The ‘East Anglia’ watermill: Mapledurham, Berkshire

You won’t be able to sink a pint at the ‘Spyglass and Kettle’ though, or shop at the local store, both of which were built for the film on – still recognisable – sites in the village.

The Manor House, to which Winston Churchill is taken, is the 16th century Elizabethan Mapledurham House – open to the public on summer weekends. The house has also been seen in plenty of television productions, including Miss Marple, Midsomer Murders and Sharpe.

Mapledurham is four miles northwest of Reading on the north bank of the Thames.