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Wild Geese II is a 1985 British action-thriller film directed by Peter Hunt, based on the 1982 novel The Square Circle by Daniel Carney, in which a group of mercenaries are hired to spring Rudolf Hess from Spandau Prison in Berlin. The film is a sequel to the 1978 film The Wild Geese, which was also produced by Euan Lloyd and adapted from a novel by Carney. Actor Richard Burton, who starred in the first film as Colonel Allen Faulkner, was planning to reprise his role for the sequel, but he died days before filming began. The sequel has Faulkner's brother (played by Edward Fox) as one of the mercenaries. No characters from the original are featured in the sequel.

Wild Geese II
Wild geese 2 film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Hunt
Produced byEuan Lloyd
Screenplay byReginald Rose
Based onThe Square Circle
1982 novel
by Daniel Carney
Music byRoy Budd
CinematographyMichael Reed
Edited byKeith Palmer
Distributed byThorn EMI
Release date
18 October 1985
Running time
125 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget£11 million[1]



Africa, 1977 Veteran mercenary Allen Faulkner trains and then leads a group of 50 hired soldiers in an attempt to rescue deposed President Julius Limbani. After initially being successful the mission begins to fall apart, double-crossed and caught in the open, an enemy plane strafes Faulkner's men. With what few men remain Faulkner looks to escape the country in an old Dakota aeroplane. With only his best friend Rafer Janders is left to board the plane, Janders is shot in the leg and can't catch the taxiing plane. As the hordes of ferocious Simbas are virtually upon him, Janders calls for Faulkner to kill him, which he regretfully does.


London, 1982 As the only surviving Nazi leader in captivity, Rudolf Hess (Laurence Olivier) has secrets that could destroy the careers of prominent political figures, secrets an international news network will pay any price to get.

As Alex Faulkner (Edward Fox) arrives for a meeting, Robert McCann (Robert Webber) is arguing with Michael Lukas about the delay of a planned rescue of Rudolf Hess.

Faulkner is escorted into the office where he meets Michael and Kathy Lukas (John Terry and Barbara Carrera) where they show him a brief video tape and offer to let him name his price to rescue Hess. At first Faulkner thinks they are joking, but when he finds out they are serious, he tells them about the possible consequences of Hess's rescue. Faulkner refuses the offer but recommends John Haddad (Scott Glenn) to them as a substitute. As former Lebanese American soldier turned mercenary Haddad avoids Palestinian hitmen in London. Later network executives Kathy and Michael Lukas hire Haddad to free Hess and get him safely out of West Berlin.

When Haddad arrives in West Berlin he stakes out the outside of Spandau Prison as a jogger while being spied on. He drafts plans of the outside of the prison including guard towers and entrances. The next day Haddad joins a construction team and sneaks away to get into the prison guard entrance. Carefully eluding the guards by studying their timed patrols he drafts floor plans of the hallways and cell blocks.

When he leaves the prison with the construction crew, Haddad is abducted by East German spy Karl Stroebling. Stroebling and his thugs smother Haddad with a plastic bag over his head to torture him into disclosing details about his mission. Haddad escapes and survives by overpowering the thugs and rolls across the street barely missing being run over by an oncoming truck as the police arrive and witness the incident.

While recovering in hospital, Haddad is visited by British Colonel Reed-Henry (Kenneth Haigh). Reed-Henry questions Haddad but to no avail; he leaves Haddad but suspects he is there to rescue Hess. Haddad leaves the hospital and along with Kathy goes to Bavaria to plan the mission without interference from Stroebling.

Haddad enlists his old mercenary comrade Colonel Alex Faulkner to watch his back. Faulkner, a former British Army officer, is working as an assassin and is an expert marksman. As romance between Haddad and Kathy blossoms, the trio returns to West Berlin to find that Reed-Henry will help Haddad release Hess. Once again Stroebling's thug's attempt to kill Haddad, but this time Faulkner helps him kill all but one of them.

Meeting with Reed-Henry to discuss his plan, Haddad agrees to hand over Hess to the colonel in exchange for help from Regimental Sergeant Major James Murphy (Paul Antrim). Murphy, an ex-warden at Spandau prison, informs Haddad of the prison routine and helps make the mercenaries look like British Royal Military Police. Stroebling offers to remove a contract on Haddad's life in exchange for Hess and the death of Faulkner. Haddad refuses and Stroebling leaves, frustrated.

As the plan is finalised with the news network, Reed-Henry and Stroebling each believing they will receive Hess. Part of the plan involves a staged traffic accident so Haddad employs a fairground wheel of death rider, Pierre (Malcolm Jamieson) to perform the deliberate crash. Attempting to subjugate Haddad into a vulnerable position using blackmail, Stroebling kidnaps Kathy. In exchange for guaranteeing her safety, Haddad must have a member of Stroebling's gang Patrick Hourigan (Derek Thompson) join the rescue group. Haddad and Faulkner are now joined by Kathy's brother and Lebanese mercenaries Joseph and Jamil. The group now including Hourigan are trained by Murphy. During one of Faulkner's fever spells, Hourigan substitutes Faulkner's medication with LSD tablets causing hallucinations. Hourigan taunts Murphy about an IRA ambush he participated in. Murphy shoots Hourigan dead, putting Haddad in a dilemma over Kathy's existing safety. Haddad enlists his final team members, Arab businessman Mustapha El Ali (Stratford Johns) and his employees, to take a couple of minor parts of the rescue. To appease Stroebling, Haddad offers Michael as extra insurance.

Launching a coup that will change the shape of the world, Haddad must also rescue Michael and Kathy from the clutches of Stroebling. Michael creates a diversion for him and Kathy to escape but he is killed during the struggle when the guard retrieves his handgun and shoots him. Moments later Haddad kills the guards and rescues Kathy. The plan goes ahead as scheduled but Pierre is killed in the flaming wreck from the staged accident. Hess is sedated with an anaesthetic, and switched with the look-alike corpse from the other ambulance and placed into a waiting jeep. At the rendezvous point at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Reed-Henry tries to intercept Hess, but discovers that he has been duped into killing Stroebling disguised as a guard. Kathy, Haddad and Faulkner take a drugged Hess to and from a football game with international passengers to their plane flight, and escape from being caught by murdering a customs officer. Reed-Henry confesses to his superiors that Hess has escaped with his rescuers and is nowhere to be found. He accepts execution via being shot with his own pistol from his superiors as his punishment.


Haddad, and Kathy and Faulkner take Hess to a hotel in Vienna, Austria where he awakens to find himself in an unfamiliar environment. Although he is offered the best hospitality, he insists on knowing why he was drugged while Kathy talks to McCann about the rescue and Michael's death. Hess, knowing that he is being exploited, overhears the conversation and tells Kathy, Haddad and Faulkner that he has no desire to be a part of modern society. Haddad and Faulkner try to talk him into accepting his freedom, but he insists on going back to Spandau to live out the rest of his life. The following day Haddad, Kathy and Faulkner take Hess to the French embassy where he turns himself in. An article of a newspaper in the following days tells a story about a false rumour of Hess's escape.



The original film had not been particularly popular in the US but performed better around the world. In April 1984 Richard Burton and Scott Glenn were announced as stars.[2] Roger Moore was asked to reprise his role from the first film, but did not like the sequel's script.[3] Lewis Collins claimed he was originally signed to play Haddad due to a contract with producer Euan Lloyd[4] but the role went to the American Scott Glenn.

Burton said after making the film he intended "to retire again for at least six months."[5] In August 1984, a week before filming was to begin, Burton died of a heart attack at his home in Geneva. Prodycer Euan Lloyd had just visited him. "He looked tan and healthy and had just passed his physical examination for the film after a nice holiday in Switzerland," Lloyd said.[6] Burton was replaced by Edward Fox.[7]

In January 1985 Thorn EMI announced they had split the cost of a five-picture £38 million slate of films they had made, including Dream Child, A Passage to India, Morons from Outer Space, The Holcroft Covenant and Wild Geese 2.[8]

The film opens with a dedication to the previous film's lead actor Richard Burton, followed by a brief summary of that film.

The 77-year-old Laurence Olivier, who portrayed Rudolf Hess, was in poor health during filming requiring a nurse to accompany him during production.[9] He was also beginning to suffer with memory problems. Edward Fox recalled him labouring for hours on his one long speech. Ingrid Pitt, who acted in the film but didn’t have any scenes with him, did have dinner with Olivier during the production and described him as "very old and frail by this time but very gallant".[10] Hess’s son Wolf Rudiger Hess said afterwards that Olivier’s likeness of his father was "uncannily accurate".[11]

Patrick Stewart appears in a small role as a Russian colonel. By his own admission, he only took the role to pay for much needed home repairs. He felt his appearance was the biggest embarrassment of his career.[12]


  1. ^ Andrew Yule, Hollywood a Go-Go: The True Story of the Cannon Film Empire, Sphere Books, 1987 p137
  2. ^ DIRECTOR WILL BUCK THE ODDS WITH FILM ABOUT GAMBLING Ryan, Desmond. Philadelphia Inquirer1 Apr 1984: I.2.
  3. ^ p.286 Moore, Sir Roger My Word Is My Bond: A Memoir It Books (8 December 2009)
  4. ^ Euen Lloyd Interview Cinema Retro #1
  5. ^ BRIEFLY Drinking days over, says Burton The Globe and Mail; Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]11 June 1984: M.9.
  6. ^ RICHARD BURTON DIES OF STROKE Philadelphia Daily News 6 Aug 1984: 3.
  7. ^ Olivier as Hess is free of flaws Chicago Tribune 8 Nov 1984: e7C.
  8. ^ Producer splits cost of films The Guardian (1959-2003); London (UK) [London (UK)]10 Jan 1985: 4.
  9. ^ Olivier Terry Coleman, Bloomsbury, 2005, p.477
  10. ^ Wild Geese II, Ingrid (Accessed = 3 April 2012)
  11. ^ Laurence Olivier: A Biography Donald Spoto, Cooper Square Press, 1991, p.405
  12. ^

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