Classic Film : The Guns Of Navarone

The Guns Of Navarone

Any Guns Of Navarone fans out there?

I watched it the other night, wasn't planning to finish it, especially since I'd seen it several times before; and three times in the theater. It plays well on television but on the big screen it's so big and beautifully made as to make me use a word I generally avoid, awesome. This is a movie that in the theater can take one's breath away.

On the small screen it's still pretty good, as the intrigue, suspense and character conflicts seem more prominent, and it plays almost like a Bogart action picture without Bogart. Lots of good stuff, notably dialogue, for its excellent cast; and the three leads shine. David Niven nails his character, and is particularly good near the end. Anthony Quinn is, as always, a force of nature, is dominant early on, then takes a back seat for a while. Gregory Peck, even without a British, New Zealand,–whatever–non-American accent is actually quite well cast and, like Niven, his delivery of dialogue is superb.

If one can accept the improbability of the heroic action scenes, beginning with the amazingly quick dispatch of a German gunboat early on, the movie is satisfying as an action picture. Younger viewers will probably have suspension of disbelief issues with it. I can put that aside. It's a product of its time, and it's as state of the art for 1961 as Star Wars was state of the art for 1977. The pace might have been faster. My sense is that director J. Lee Thompson was aiming for something epic. He did a brilliant job of it, too, but what was epic for '61 may, for some, feel draggy in '17. There are a few surprises along the way, and the near obligatory addition of two females to the cast slows it down a bit more, though the drama that arises from what one of them is really up to makes up for it.

Some of the scenes near the end are incredibly corny, such as the shots of the three British destroyers cruising to the notes of Rule Brittania on the soundtrack. On the other hand, Dimitri Tiomkin's nicely ethnically flavored music is wonderful, and I disagree with those who find it overused or cartoonish. It accompanies the action, does not, in my humble opinion, overwhelm it. Overall, a great and exciting movie from another era. Its heroics were probably old-fashioned within a few years, with the Eastwood-Leone spaghetti westerns, but when it was new it was the state of the art Greatest Show On Earth!

Re: The Guns Of Navarone

Telegonus, I saw this only once when it was first released, and I remember enjoying it, but not a lot more than that. I love your comments, however, and if it ever shows up on TCM, I will watch it again. I remember really enjoying the cast. And J. Lee Thompson, in my memories from that time, was a gifted director, though he didn't always have the best scripts. His version of Cape Fear (1962), however, far outshines the Scorsese remake, in my opinion. That one I vividly remember to this day.

The Guns Of Navarone/Cape Fear

I've never seen the Scorsese remake of Cape Fear, Spiderwort. This was partly my aversion to what I see of the coming attractions (yuk), and based on my experience my sense of Robert De Niro's lack of flexibility as to type, voice, mannerisms.

Also, I think the original's great, of a time, of a place; it struck me as a 1962 movie locked in its time, and not in a bad way. It's a time capsule, and that's a good deal of what makes it so excellent. The story could be remade, for sure, but was dangerous and thrilling,–also, heavily censored–in '62, would be much more routine material forty years later. The first version was a product of the era of Doris Day, the remake from the era of Sharon Stone.

FWIW: J. Lee Thompson strikes me as a crackerjack director, a great genre guy; and what he may have lacked in artistic seriousness that Scorsese possess, in spades, he more than makes up for in sheer technical skill. Cape Fear just keeps on ratcheting up the tension, right to the confrontation on the houseboat. That's more a job for a "pro" than a serious artist even as there's no reason why one can't be both.

Re: The Guns Of Navarone

Great post, telegonus. As as for this:

FWIW: J. Lee Thompson strikes me as a crackerjack director, a great genre guy; and what he may have lacked in artistic seriousness that Scorsese possess, in spades, he more than makes up for in sheer technical skill. Cape Fear just keeps on ratcheting up the tension, right to the confrontation on the houseboat. That's more a job for a "pro" than a serious artist even as there's no reason why one can't be both.

My sentiments exactly - especially that there's no reason why one can't be both.

The posts deleted below

- were duplicates of my last response, so I deleted them to clear the deck. Don't know why that happened.

Greatness & Genre

Thanks, and absolutely, Spiderwort. Lee Thompson may well have had major talent, didn't realize it or simply lacked the ambition to use it to its fullest extent. Major directors who did more than a little dabbling in genre films: John Ford, Howard Hawks, Fritz Lang, King Vidor, George Stevens and John Huston come to mind.

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Re: The Guns Of Navarone

For a younger audience this might be considered a talkative movie!
It's what old Halliwell used to call a "Boys' Own Paper" movie.
Having it on DVD and listening to comentary tracks, David Niven nearly died during the elevator scenes because the water was contaminated. Gia Scala gave J Lee-Thompson a haircut that forced him to use a hat. Non of the actors liked Stanley Baker because he had made a deal wih Joseph E Levine, because Levine had screwed a few out of rightfull profits. The Baker-Levine Deal actually worked out well for both parts.

Re: The Guns Of Navarone

Hi, Teleadm. I saw this film so long ago I can't really comment on it, except to say that I'm a fan of J. Lee Thompson, and that I remember enjoying it when I saw it. Mostly, I just wanted to say hi. Also, to let you know that I and others have been having trouble with the board doing multiple postings of their posts. I've had to delete several. You may want to delete the other two of yours that got posted. It's not something that has happened here before, so I don't know what the problem is.

Anyway, welcome.

Re: The Guns Of Navarone

For a younger audience this might be considered a talkative movie!
It's what old Halliwell used to call a "Boys' Own Paper" movie.
Having it on DVD and listening to comentary tracks, David Niven nearly died during the elevator scenes because the water was contaminated. Gia Scala gave J Lee-Thompson a haircut that forced him to use a hat. Non of the actors liked Stanley Baker because he had made a deal wih Joseph E Levine, because Levine had screwed a few out of rightfull profits. The Baker-Levine Deal actually worked out well for both parts.

Heroics

Yup, Teleadm, Guns has that rousing sort of Korda-Selznick field. It was a Sixties movie about World War II but it channeled the heroics of an earlier time, of the era of The Prisoner Of Zenda and The Four Feathers.

Re: The Guns Of Navarone

For a younger audience this might be considered a talkative movie!
It's what old Halliwell used to call a "Boys' Own Paper" movie.
Having it on DVD and listening to comentary tracks, David Niven nearly died during the elevator scenes because the water was contaminated. Gia Scala gave J Lee-Thompson a haircut that forced him to use a hat. Non of the actors liked Stanley Baker because he had made a deal wih Joseph E Levine, because Levine had screwed a few out of rightfull profits. The Baker-Levine Deal actually worked out well for both parts.
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