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Trivia / The Wild Geese

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  • Author Existence Failure: Richard Burton was set to reprise his role in the sequel before his death. Edward Fox was then cast as Faulkner's brother.
  • Backed by the Pentagon: Most of the military equipment used in the film came from the South African army. However some special weaponry needed to be imported from Britain. "Even though the stuff couldn't fire real bullets, it was held up for weeks by the British government because it was going to South Africa," said Euan Lloyd.
  • Cast the Expert:
    • Roger Moore, an ex-serviceman, helped some of the actors learn the military look (how to march, salute, etc.)
    • Of all the extras and actors that were present on the movie-set there were few that had actual military training and experience of real warfare. One of those was Hardy Krüger. He was born in 1928, Germany and he was drafted into the German Army in late 1944. In March 1945 he saw action against US forces in the 38th SS Division "Nibelungen". During these late-war engagements he was captured by US troops.
    • Percy Herbert, who played Keith, was a World War II veteran, he had been wounded in the defense of Singapore, then captured by the Imperial Japanese Army and interned in a POW camp.
    • Ian Yule (Tosh) was an ex-mercenary who had previously worked with Col. Mike Hoare, an Irish soldier of fortune whose exploits were allegedly the inspiration for this film. Yule introduced producer Euan Lloyd to Hoare, and eventually the latter was made an adviser on the film, in an attempt to boost the realism of the combat sequences.
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    • Jack Watson (Sandy Young) served as a physical training instructor in the Royal Navy during World War II.
  • Creator Backlash: Hardy Kruger was somewhat disappointed by the film:
    “I am disappointed in The Wild Geese. For this kind of a delicate story in Africa with an element of battle in it, there has to be some shoot-out. But Euan Lloyd, a man I respect very much, chose to hire Andrew Mc Laglen who’s basically a director for westerns. He brought this element into The Wild Geese that didn’t really belong there – the shoot ‘em up cowboy kind of thing. It overwhelmed the basic theme. There are certain directors, and Andrew is one, who, when it comes to the editing, always puts a moment in the film when somebody talks. I’m a listener as an actor – a reactor – and it was very important to me to listen. I played the whole part like that: I’m listening to this black man on my shoulder, and it’s by listening that I’m beginning to understand that I’m the dumb Boer and he’s the intelligent man that we all need. So Andrew butchered my performance by not understanding that you can play a part by listening. My character didn’t come out because you didn’t see the transformation. I don’t know why Euan allowed him to do it…”
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  • Fatal Method Acting: Averted. Richard Harris saved Graham Clarke's life while filming the scene where the mercenaries run towards the plane. He noticed that the wing was about to decapitate him, so he rugby tackled him to the ground. Ian Yule said it was the most courageous thing he'd ever seen a star do.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Patrick Stewart appeared in Wild Geese II because he urgently needed money for an expensive home repair job and that was the first role he was offered upon receiving the bill from the repairman.
  • Old Shame: Patrick Stewart once said that Wild Geese II was the only acting role he regretted.
  • Playing Against Type: Roger Moore as a hardened mercenary, as opposed to his suave playboy persona.
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • In the casino scene where Allen Faulkner flirts with a woman dressed as an Egyptian, the woman is actually Richard Burton's wife, Susan Hunt.
    • Producer Euan Lloyd cast his daughter Rosalind Lloyd as Heather, and his wife Jane Hylton as Mrs Young, the two leading female characters in the film.
  • Reality Subtext: Faulkner claims to be dry when working. In Real Life, Richard Burton had a drinking problem that had taken a severe toll on his health by the time he made this film. Richard Harris was also a notorious drinker. Both men remained dry for the entire shoot.
  • Wag the Director:
    • Roger Moore requested to have minimum lines in his scenes with Richard Burton and Richard Harris, saying, "You don't seriously expect me to act against these guys?"
    • According to Moore, Richard Burton insisted that Moore's character appear in the ending scene, otherwise the audience would be confused as to whether he survived or not.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The producers originally wanted Burt Lancaster for the role of Rafer Janders, but when he began submitting alterations to the script to give his character the central role, he was replaced with Richard Harris. Lancaster claimed to have turned the part down because he felt the film was "inferior". Michael Caine turned down the role of Janders because he refused to work in South Africa during apartheid. According to Roger Moore's memoirs Robert Mitchum was cast as Janders but pulled out and was replaced at late notice by Harris.
    • O.J. Simpson was considered for Shawn Fynn, who was written as black-Irish in the script.
    • Joseph Cotten was originally cast as Sir Edward Matheson.
    • Robert Shaw was considered for either Faulkner or Janders.
    • Curd Jürgens was considered for Lieutenant Pieter Coetzee.
    • When Euan Lloyd tried to get United Artists to finance the film, they wanted Michael Winner to direct. Lloyd refused and instead chose Andrew V. Mc Laglen.
    • A sub-plot contained in the novel and early screenplay drafts, in which Shawn Finn romances a local woman during the training sequence in Swaiziland, was eventually dropped by the production team, on the grounds that it added little to the story, and dragged the pace of the film.


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