[Join your host, John Holliday, in the review column "A Movie A Week" as he shares his spoiler-free thoughts on our collection of DVD / Blu-ray titles.]
Modern movies set during World War II tend to get preachy and political while totally ignoring the pure cinematic qualities of their setting. But it's ok to find pleasure in a fictional account of a very real and horrific period. Back in 1961, Holywood realized that WWII was about action and adventure and the heroes that brought us through the era. One of the best examples to capture this sentiment was the story of Captain Mallory, his men, and their mission to destroy The Guns of Navarone.
When the Axis alliance decides to intimidate neutral Turkey, their plan is to attack 2,000 British soldiers that have been marooned on a nearby island. Before the Royal Navy can reach the men, they have to find a way to disengage the two massive blockade guns on the island of Navarone. With time running out, six men of expertise are sent undercover to infiltrate the enemy territory and destroy the weapons. The mission could easily be compromised as evidenced by the revelation of Capt. Mallory's (Gregory Peck) responsibility in the accidental murder of Andrea's (Anthony Quinn) wife and children. Even worse, Andrea has openly vowed to kill Mallory by the war's end.
Before they can even reach the island across the Aegean Sea, the men, disguised as Greek fisherman, are boarded by suspicious Germans. Mallory's multi-lingual talents buy them some time but when their boat is inspected too closely, they are forced to open fire. With one man being the explosives expert, another skilled with knives, another in rock climbing, and each of them specializing in their own chosen area, they may not be able to complete their task without every member of their team. As fate decides to incapacitate their leading Major upon arrival on Navarone, it's up to Gregory Peck's Capt. Mallory to bring them to victory.
Like I said earlier, this movie is just about having a good time with gunplay and explosions. At least that's how it will be viewed despite the intentions of being an anti-war plotline. Maybe it's too non-political (if there is such a thing) which you can decide whether or not that's what you want out of film. Either way it's a great movie held up by Peck's charisma and charm along with the support of a cast of characters, each with a distinct personality. The best thing about The Guns of Navarone may be it's pacing which never seems to drag. In all the excitement of a boat wreck, a giant tidal wave, and an intense cliff climb, you may not notice there's a nearly thirteen minute stretch of no dialogue. That's great filmmaking.
I can never emphasize enough that this is what movies are all about. I guess I should only speak for myself but I have a great time at the movies and wish others could just relax occasionally and do the same. No viewer has to be worried about being offended or bored and there's a little bit for everyone no matter how cliché it sounds. That's why I give The Guns of Navarone:
What movie would you like to see John review next week? Your suggestions are always welcome at: firstname.lastname@example.org