The Guns of Navarone

   

 

        You think you've been getting away with it all this time, standing by.  Well, son...

             your bystanding 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!

 

The film opens with an aerial view of the Greek Islands, and a narrator (James Robertson Justice), setting the scene. The year is 1943, and 2000 British soldiers are holed up on the island of Kheros in the Aegean near Turkey. Rescue by the Royal Navy is impossible because of massive guns on the nearby island of Navarone. Time is short, because the Germans are expected to launch an assault on the British forces, to draw Turkey into the war on the Axis' side.

Efforts to blast the guns by air have proven fruitless, so a team has been hastily assembled to sail to Navarone and dynamite the guns. Led by Major Roy Franklin (Anthony Quayle), they are Capt. Keith Mallory (Gregory Peck), Andrea Stavros (Anthony Quinn), a Colonel in the defeated Greek army, Corporal Miller (David Niven), an explosives expert, Greek-American street tough Spyros Pappadimos and "Butcher" Brown (Stanley Baker), an engineer and expert knife fighter.

Disguised as Greek fishermen on a decrepit boat, they sail across the Aegean Sea. They are intercepted by a German boat and boarded. On Mallory's signal, they attack and kill all the Germans and blow up the patrol boat. Afterwards, Mallory confides to Miller that Stavros has sworn to kill him after the war, because he was inadvertently responsible for the deaths of Stavros' wife and children.

Their landing on the coast that night is hampered by a violent storm. The ship is wrecked and they lose part of their equipment, most notably the food and medical supplies. Franklin is badly injured while scaling the cliff, the injury later becoming infected with gangrene. They find that the cliff is in fact guarded after all. Miller, a friend of Franklin, suggests that they leave Franklin to be "well cared for" by the enemy. Mallory, who assumes command of the mission, feels that Franklin would be forced to reveal their plans, so he orders two men to carry the injured man on a stretoney quinn as Greek Andrea Stavros attacks a German boat in the Aegean Sea.

After Franklin tries to commit suicide Mallory lies to him, saying that their mission has been "scrubbed" and that a major naval attack will be mounted on Navarone. Attacked by German soldiers, they split up, leaving Andrea behind with his sniper rifle, while they move on to their next rendezvous point. They contact local resistance workers, Spyros's sister Maria and her friend Anna (Gia Scala).

The mission is continually dogged by Germans - clearly there is a major intelligence leak - but they make their way across the rugged countryside. They are captured when they try to find a doctor for Franklin. They escape by donning German uniforms, but leave Franklin behind, so he can get medical attention. Franklin is injected with the truth drug scopolamine and gives up the false "information", as Mallory had hoped. As a result, German units are deployed away from the guns and in the direction of the supposed "invasion" route.

While making final preparations for the destruction of the guns, Miller discovers that most of his explosives have been sabotaged and deduces that Anna is the saboteur. She pleads that she was coerced by the Germans into treachery, but while Mallory and Miller argue over her fate, complicated by Mallory's seduction by Anna the night before, Maria shoots her as a price of disloyalty.

The team splits up to carry out their objectives: While Mallory and Miller go for the guns themselves, Stavros and Pappadimos are to create a distraction in the city itself; Maria and Brown are assigned to steal a boat for their escape. Mallory and Miller find a way into the heavily fortified gun emplacements. Locking the main entrance behind them, Mallory and Miller set obvious explosives on the guns and hide more below the elevator leading to the guns. The Germans finally cut through the thick emplacement doors, but Mallory and Miller make their escape by diving into the sea. Despite Miller's inability to swim, they make it to the stolen boat, but learn that Pappadimos and Brown have been killed. Stavros is wounded and has difficulty swimming, but Mallory manages to pull him in.

The destroyers appear on schedule. The Germans remove the explosives planted on the guns and fire. The first salvo falls short. The next barely misses the lead ship, but then, just as they are about to fire again, the elevator descends low enough to trigger the hidden explosives. The guns and fortifications are destroyed in a spectacular explosion.

Mallory and Miller are taken on board the destroyer, while Stavros, who has fallen in love with Maria, decides to return to Navarone with her and shakes hands with Mallory, seemingly having given up his plan to kill him.

 

 

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Movie Script

Directed by J. Lee Thompson
Produced by Carl Foreman
Written by Alistair MacLean (novel)
Carl Foreman
Starring Gregory Peck
David Niven
Anthony Quinn
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) June 22, 1961
Running time 158 min.
Language English
Budget $6,000,000 (est)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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