Guns of Navarone, The

Columbia

(Open Road US/UK)

One of the best WWII action-adventures, this spectacular epic portrays the heroics and bravery soldiers faced when tasked with impossible missions during War. The film boasts a stellar cast, headed by Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, David Niven, Anthony Quayle, Stanley Baker, and Irene Papas.

Director J. Lee Thompson (“King Solomons Mines,” “Battle for the Planet of the Apes”) brings Alistair MacLeans best-selling novel about allies saboteurs who are assigned an impossible mission, infiltrate an impregnable Nazi fortress and destroy two enormous long-range field guns.

With the battle of Stalingrad turning the War against them, the Germans are attempting to bully neutral Turkey into joining the Axis. To that end, they have trapped 2,000 British soldiers on Kiros, an island in the Aegean, with only one sea route for evacuation, a sea route commanded by two gigantic German antiship batteries deployed in a massive cliffside bunker on the island of Navarone.

Immune to air attack and too much for Allied battleships to suppress, the British muster Keith Mallory (Peck), a commando officer who has been working on occupied Crete for nearly two years and who is an expert mountaineer, is assigned to ferry a team of British commandos to the only area of Navarone that is not monitored by the Germans, a 400-foot cliff.

Greek resistance is to meet the team inland and guide them around German patrols to the area of the German guns. However, the commanding officer of the British team suffers grave injury in the climb, and Mallory must take control of the mission, despite clashes with explosives expert John Anthony Miller (Niven), who upon the arrival of the night of the raid finds his equipment has been sabotaged, thus exposing a traitor in the teams ranks.

Credits

Running time: 157 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not rated.

Cast

Captain Mallory (Gregory Peck)
Cpl. Miller (David Niven)
Colonel Andrea Stavros (Anthony Quinn)
CPO Brown (Stanley Baker)
Major Franklin (Anthony Quayle)
Maria (Irene Papas)
Anna (Gia Scala)
Private Pappadimos (Bobby Darren)
Jensen (James Robertson)
Barnsby (Richard Harris)

Sequel Alert

In 1978. Harrison Ford starred in a sequel, “Force 10 from Navarone,” which is decent but not nearly as exciting as Thompson’s epic.

Oscar Alert

Oscar Nominations: 7

Picture, produced by Carl Foreman
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Screenplay (Adapted): Carl Foreman
Editing: Alan Osbiston
Score: Dimitri Tiomkin
Sound: John Cox
Special Effects: Bill Warrington, visual; Vivian C. Greenham, audible

Oscar Awards: 1

Special Effects

Oscar Context:

In 1961, the musical “West Side Story” swept most of the Oscars, including Picture and Directors (actually co-directors). The other Best Picture nominees were the old-fashioned melodrama “Fanny”; the downbeat and poignant pool drama “The Hustler”; and the courtroom drama “Judgment at Nuremberg,” which was the most nominated film of the year.