Night of the Fox on DVD was a bit of a disappointment. I like George Peppard, who in his younger day would have been perfect for the part, but I had expected more. Michael York was very good with his double role, the Jewish actor/Rommel. In fact, he was better than expected. This is probably one of those times, a film based on he book would have been better. The made-for-TV film itself, although accurate to the book's intent, missed with both style and suspense. It seemed flat as many made-for-TV movies do. Commercial breaks were obvious, and if there ever was a time to cut out some dialogue, this was it. Suspense, the most crucial element was absent as well. Now, I'm willing to chalk that up to having already read the book, but the conflict, intrigue and confrontations with the enemy didn't leave anything to the imagination, which leads to suspense.
The book itself was no surprise to me in that I expect any of Jack Higgins' Word War II products to be better than those he writes of more contemporary times. The book is far superior in all the things he normally gives short shrift to--like character and plot. Even his dialogue, which is sometimes unnatural as we are told the same information again because one character has missed it, works well in the novel. Still, he tells the kinds of stories and has heroes we admire. The novel's flow is much nicer, the characters more real and believable, and the story full of twists, and the suspense breathtaking.
Not so with the film. When it was made into a TV movie/miniseries, it failed in not being nearly as good as the book, although I think with the right director and realistic casting it could have been. The pacing was deplorable. It was a sit-at-home-if-you-have-nothing-better-to-do, or you're sick in bed and can't move too much... It is ironic that you take time reading a book, but not a film. A film has generally, at a maximum, two or more hours to win you and keep you. This one is three hours (in two parts), but it still feels long.
Higgins' is always a quick read, but this novel was more for savoring. Night of the Fox is my favorite Higgins' book to date, and I think I've read most of them. The DVD was my treat to myself. I am a Peppard fan from way back, but this one truly missed the mark and won't knock your socks off. With patience, there is a good story there, but reading the book is better.