(1961)

The Greatest High Adventure Ever Filmed!

A team of allied saboteurs are assigned an impossible mission: infiltrate an impregnable Nazi-held island and destroy the two enormous long-range field guns that prevent the rescue of 2,000 trapped British soldiers.

Biffo - Bammo - Boffo!
A team of army specialists are assembled with the task of infiltrating a German held Greek island. Then they have to destroy the mighty twin guns up in the hills that blight the British operations on the Aegean waters.
Adapted from the Alistair MacLean novel, it's directed by J. Lee Thompson and stars Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle, Stanley Baker and James Darren. Music is scored by Dimitri Tiomkin and cinematography by Oswald Morris.
Watching it now it seems oh so very formulaic, but it was rarely the norm back than for war films to always follow this brand of high end adventure staples. The makers take a bunch of men from the various social spectrum and thrust them together for an impossible mission. We have the stiff backed guys with moral reasoning at their core, the rough and tumble men, all face fuzz and machismo seeping from every pore, and a young baby faced youngster blossoming into a man by the day.
They will be put through the mangler at regular intervals, faced with scenarios to test their metal, all while the group view each other with suspicions of motives and reasonings. Here the character sub-plots, their hang-ups and frets, do not bog down the fun or the excitement, they enhance the narrative. We also get two ladies entering the group (Irene Papas/Gia Scala), and they too add some meat into an already beefy stew.
Action is a plenty, suspense equally so. While of course there's twists and turns to input some mystery and pot boiling character dynamics. Elsewhere, Tiomkin provides a robust Golden Globe Winning score, and Bill Warrington & Chris Greenham's special effects won the Academy Award in that department - they look at times a bit weak now, but who cares right? The array of screen work, matte paintings and miniatures blend superbly with the outdoor location photography, which points us to a time when film makers worked their socks off to create the magic up there on the screen. Oh and the scripted dialogue is just wonderful and beating an intelligent heart.
One of the quintessential boy's own - men on a mission movies, The Guns of Navarone, still a treat over 55 years since it was first shown in theatres, and crucially, it's still influencing other film makers as well. 9/10

Highroad Productions, Columbia Pictures by J. Lee Thompson, Alistair MacLean, Carl Foreman.
Stars: David Niven, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn.

Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama

Keywords: based on novel or book world war ii fort allies army

04/28/1961

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