Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1960s Guns of Navarone, The (1961)

Guns of Navarone, The (1961)

A stalwart band of Blighty’s finest heroes risk life and limb during WWII to destroy huge German gun emplacements threatening Allied ships in the Aegean who need to rescue a garrison of 2,000 British soldiers stranded on the island of Leros.

The six-man commando team consists of British Major Roy Franklin (Anthony Quayle), mountaineer Captain Keith Mallory (Gregory Peck), humanitarian explosive’s expert Corporal Miller (David Niven), Greek resistance fighter Andrea Stravos (Anthony Quinn), young marksman Private Spyros Pappadimos (James Darren) and ruthless killer CPO “Butcher” Brown (Stanley Baker).

Posing as fishermen from Greece aboard a small fishing boat, they make their way across the Aegean Sea to Navarone, killing the sailors on a German patrol vessel when it attempts to board their vessel.

Meeting them along the way is resistance leader Maria (Irene Papas), who is Pappadimos’ older sister, and Anna (Gia Scala), a beautiful Greek girl who became mute after being tortured by the Germans.

There’s little love lost between Mallory and Stavros in their ongoing conflict over leadership, especially when it becomes known that there’s a traitor in their midst.

After invading Navarone, Miller finds that the majority of his bombs have been compromised, possibly by Anna. The unit questions Anna, and she admits that she is not mute, but is actually a German informant working towards her own release. Mallory goes to kill her, but Maria beats him to it.

A bloody hand-to-hand skirmish between the good guys and the Nazis, an enormous tidal wave, and scenes of heart-stopping tension ensue as our heroes brave the elements whilst scaling a treacherous sea-facing cliff.

Derring-do adventure at its finest, this tale of heroism and good old death-or-glory courage was absolutely dripping with 60’s post-war patriotism.

The Guns of Navarone has a righteous cause, a fiendish foe, impossible odds and will have you pulling imaginary salutes to your commanding officer as the film reaches its glorious finale.

Filmed on location in Rhodes by veteran director J. Lee Thompson, and noteworthy for Bill Warrington’s Oscar-winning special effects, the production had to hire a dozen US-built destroyers from the Greek navy and 1,000 Greek soldiers to impersonate a German Wehrmacht regiment.

While shooting a climactic scene in the German fortress, David Niven contracted a near-fatal case of septicemia through a cut lip while standing for hours in a flooded elevator shaft. He spent weeks in the hospital but recovered enough to shoot his remaining scenes.

Carl Foreman adapted his screenplay from Alistair MacLean’s best-selling novel. There was a less than successful 1978 sequel, Force Ten From Navarone.

Future Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant (a former wrestler) body-doubled for Anthony Quinn during filming.

Captain Keith Mallory
Gregory Peck
Colonel Andrea Stavros

Anthony Quinn
Corporal John Anthony Miller

David Niven
‘Butcher’ Brown

Stanley Baker
Major Roy Franklin

Anthony Quayle
Private Spyros Pappadimos

James Darren
Maria Pappadimos

Irene Papas

Gia Scala
Justice Commodore Jensen

James Robertson Justice
Squadron Leader Howard
Richard Harris

Bryan Forbes
Major Baker

Alan Cuthbertson

Michael Trubshawe

J. Lee Thompson