So unconvincing are the sounds emanating from the Rogermouth that I naturally assumed his role as a top brass in the Third Reich was a disguise, and that he would at some point throw off his SS uniform to reveal an ivory tuxedo. Alas it was not to be: in his continued quest to be miscast wherever he appeared, Rodge - admittedly playing a charming, gentleman genocidal villain rather than the bad kind - fails to convince as one of Hitler's goons from word one of his performance.
Placing Roger Moore gently aside for a moment though, just have a boggle at the rest of Escape To Athena's cast. Savalas! Niven! Powers! Cardinale! Roundtree! Bono (the other one)! And, with perhaps one of the greatest credits ever seen on screen...
Opening with the first of several absolutely phenomenal helicopter shots which swoop and dive around the film's island setting, Escape To Athena sets out its stall early: gorgeous locations, a galaxy of stars introduced one by one (David Niven in a false beard calling a Nazi an "ignorant bastard" in his first scene is a delicious moment) and more rambunctious wartime carryings-on than an 'Allo 'Allo Christmas special. Telly Savalas wearing a chunky knit sweater and more bling than Mr T, despite the temperature presumably nudging the high forties, is just one of its many treasures; another sees him dancing like a confused bear in a later scene, choreographed by Strictly's Arlene Phillips.
The film concerns an attempt by Savalas to break into a PoW camp, an attempt by Niven to break out of the same PoW camp, an attempt by Elliott Gould to break into a monastery to loot it and an attempt by Roger Moore to break into Stephanie Powers. It ambles along pleasantly enough, and there's a lot of fun to be had if you can bear Elliott Gould's wisecracking smartarse, but what we're dealing with here is a futile attempt to cover up a threadbare plot by plastering as many big names as possible over the cracks. Towards the end, Escape To Athena actually exhibits symptoms of mental illness, suddenly introducing an underground rocket base and Nazis dressed like Daft Punk for reasons never fully explored.
Random Anschluss Memories
Not for the first time, one suspects Moore took the part because it was being filmed somewhere sunny, and the chance to hang out in the casinos of Rhodes with his pal David Niven was too good to pass up. In many ways it's a classic Rogerformance: laid back to the point of lazy, unchallenging in any way but never remotely unwatchable. So three Rogers are awarded: I added one for Rodge not doing anything massively racist this time (kind of ironic when you consider his role), but immediately deducted it again because at no point did he unbutton his shirt to the waist.
here, but it won't be a very good one.