East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Other People’ Pulps: War Eagles

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Every day I’m posting later… this August thing will kill me.
Also, I’m spending so much time writing and translating, that I don’t have the time to do anything really interesting and Karavansara-worthy. And I know that talking about my writing is not the best way to entertain you guys out there.
So, what about eagle-riding Vikings versus the Nazis, in the sky over Manhattan?

Ah, I knew this would catch your attention.

Turns out that back when men were real men and women were real women (aka the thirties), special effects giant Ray Harryhausen planned a movie he was supposed to shoot together with Meriam C. Cooper of King Kong fame.


The movie should be called War Eagles, and here’s the plot, courtesy of the Bristol Bad Film Club:

Just prior to the start of WWII, a publicly humiliated Army Air Corps test pilot, court-martialed and discharged from the service for an unauthorized flight that ultimately endangered the life of President Roosevelt, takes the only job he can get – flying an experimental airplane around the world from pole to pole.

When his plane is unexpectedly attacked and crashes on an uncharted island above the Arctic Circle, the pilot discovers a strange land inhabited by dinosaurs and a lost tribe of Norsemen who ride giant eagles. In a surprising turn of events, he learns that the Nazis are about to launch an attack of New York with an air fleet of Zeppelins and a powerful new electromagnetic weapon. Convincing his newfound allies to help him, the pilot leads an army of eagle-riding Vikings against the Nazis in the skies above New York.

Just that: wow!

And to be absolutely truthful, the first thing I thought upon reading about that was hoax!… but apparently it is not.
Harryhausen also mentioned the movie in an interview on the IGN website


“That was a picture Marion Cooper was going to make in color for MGM. But then the war came along and he was called away to the Flying Tigers. The whole picture deteriorated. Willis O’Brien was going to do the special effects work. It would have been a really spectacular picture at the time. That was the first time I met Willis O’Brien, was during the preproduction for War Eagles. They had three rooms filled with the paintings and drawings of the potential picture. It looked terrific.”

war eaglesDid I already say wow!?1

And there is an actual novelization of the original script, and you can buy it on Amazon – and yes, I’m putting a commercial link in here because I think I deserve a finder’s fee.
On the same page of the novelization you’ll also find links to two rather expensive books by David Conover, about the lost movie, and Ray Harryhausen.

What a missed opportunity, what?

Together with the aborted Hammer movie Zeppelins vs Pterodactyls – another real thing that sounds a lot like a hoax – this would have made for a wonderful double feature.
Ah! Things that never were…


I wonder if anybody ever did a movie blogathon about these aborted masterpieces – nudge-nudge, wink-wink…

  1. I will add an extra wow! for the discovery of the fact that Merian C. Cooper joined the Flying Tigers, something I was not aware of. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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