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The Guns of Navarone (1961)

Directed by J. Lee Thompson, this big budget extravaganza is the perfect example of a movie released early on to home video as the VHS tape was becoming a staple of home entertainment. It’s probably where I saw the film for the first time on a weekend rental from our local video store in the early 1980’s. Of course I’ve seen it countless times since then and while I don’t believe it to be a bona fide classic, it has much to offer in WW2 adventure and a cast of names to match. A cast that includes three Oscar winners with above the title billing.

Thompson would subsequently follow up this box office hit with the now classic, Cape Fear,  reteaming him with Navarone’s leading man, Gregory Peck. He’d also direct Peck twice more in The Chairman and Mackenna’s Gold before the end of the decade. Following that he’d stay busy on a couple of Apes sequels and regularly directing Charles Bronson shootouts into the 1980’s.

Gregory Peck as Mallory ….. ” Well, son… your by standing days are over! You’re in it now, up to your neck! They told me that you’re a genius with explosives. Start proving it! You got me in the mood to use this thing, and by God, if you don’t think of something, I’ll use it on you! I mean it. “

David Niven as Miller …. “I’m not anxious to kill her, I’m not anxious to kill anyone. You see, I’m not a born soldier. I was trapped. You may find me facetious from time to time, but if I didn’t make some rather bad jokes I’d go out of my mind. No, I prefer to leave the killing to someone like you, an officer and a gentleman, a leader of men.”

Anthony Quinn as Andrea Stavros …. “There is of course a third choice. One bullet now. Better for him, better for us. You take that man along, you endanger us all. “

Stanley Baker as Brown …. “I’ve been fighting this war a long time. I’ve been killing Germans since 1937. There’s no end to them. You shoot a man at 200 yards, he’s just a moving target. You kill him with a knife, you’re close enough to smell him. I smell them in my sleep.

Anthony Quayle as Franklin …. “have you got your silencer? Then use it. Shoot the laundry boy. “

James Darren as Pappadinos …. “He’s a born killer.”

Irene Papas as Maria …. “They’re burning Mandrakos in punishment. “

Gia Scala as Anna …. “She is like a ghost. She goes anywhere. She got us these guns and she kills without mercy.”

James Robertson Justice as Commodore Jensen …. “I should be very surprised if they get even halfway to Navarone. Just a waste of six good men. “

and bloody hell it’s Richard Harris as Barnsby …. “First, you’ve got that bloody old fortress on top of that bloody cliff. Then you’ve got the bloody cliff overhang. You can’t even see the bloody cave, let alone the bloody guns. And anyway, we haven’t got a bloody bomb big enough to smash that bloody rock. And that’s the bloody truth, sir. “

 

Haven’t seen this one? Then bloody hell get at it and if you’re like me and like to revisit it on occasion, now’s as bloody good a time as bloody any. And that’s the bloody truth of it.

17 Comments »

  1. This stands out among the best of the WWII epics. James Darrren (Time Tunnel) was popular with the American TV crowd and maybe casted for that reason – not sure but I’ve seen this film countless times. Niven adds his explosive comic moments like the fake rat. This character is carried over with Edward Fox – Miller in “Force 10 From Navarone” with Harrison Ford, Robert Shaw.

    • I need to check out that Time Tunnel show and believe it or not, I own them on DVD! Thought I might revisit the Force 10 flick, haven’t seen it in years and it’s on the shelf as well. Pretty sure I have the original one sheet for that in the vault that I can feature as well.

  2. Bleeding heck, you’re blooming right — it’s a blinking great movie! I haven’t seen it as b. many times as you obviously blasted have, but it used to turn up on UK tv pretty regularly and I enjoyed it more than once in that sanguinary form.

    • Hopefully the bloody TV stations will give you another look at this big screen adventure. When I watched this the other night I did so as a double bill with The Dirty Dozen. That would make for a great retro double bill at the theater.

  3. Awesome introducing all the characters with quotes.
    Oh you can’t beat a bit of bloody British swearing. Looks like they managed very well with all the bloodys and not a Michael Caine in sight!
    I keep meaning to watch it again myself, it’s been sometime. Too many films to watch and never enough time!
    But what a cast. Never realised Stanley Baker was in it until I saw him in your post.

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