Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Guns of Navarone

(Movie Review)

I couldn't really tell you why, but I was in the mood the other day to see an old classic film the other day.

I have a soft spot in my heart for old films (maybe because when I was growing up, it was all I was allowed to watch) and I even consider myself a bit of a classic film buff.

...Although I guess you'd never know it from reading this blog.
What can I say? The old films have a lot of charm, but they demand a certain amount of attention. It can be difficult to sit through them after you've had your attention span ruined by MTV and Family Guy.

This film is a perfect example of the good and bad points of classic film.

It's a great World War II film, filled with classic actors doing their true-grit tough-as-nails hardened soldier routine.

Gregory Peck plays the lead character, doing his usually tough guy role.

Anthony Quinn also plays a real tough guy. And he's even promised to kill Gregory Peck's character after the war.

David Niven plays a....well, if you've seen any David Niven movies, you know he's not much of a tough guy actor. He plays the intellectual explosives experts and corny joker of the group, and in doing so provides a nice contrast to Quinn and Peck.

It's great to see all these classic actors at the height of their fame. And they all do a bang up job.
The script is pretty well written, and there's a great, "One of the people in this room must be a traitor" scene that gave it some extra punch near the middle.

And what's more, I had been watching so many new movies lately, I had almost forgotten what real films used to look like before CGI. When they are in the storm, or when the boat gets shipwrecked, or when they're climbing up the cliff face, that's really them doing it.

(Well, actually I know they're using a studio tank and they're not really getting ship wrecked in the ocean, but those are real actors with real water.)

But the pacing of the film just killed me. I had a hard time sitting through it to be honest.

This film takes place in Greece during World War II.
You don't hear a lot about Greece in World War II these days do you? You hear a lot about the battles at Normandy and D-day, but I'm not used to associating Greece with the intrigues of World War II, which lends a bit of exoticism to the setting, and the film makers try and use this to maximum advantage.

[Although come to think of it, there was that "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" (W) movie that came out a few years ago. And that was pretty interesting (I saw it on video). But aside from that, I'd venture that most people don't know anything about Greece in World War II.]

Wikipedia cites "The Guns of Navarone" as being "part of a cycle of big-budget World War II adventures that included The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), The Longest Day (1962) and The Great Escape (1963)."

"The Longest Day" is still on my list of films to see someday, I've - seen the other two. All 3 of these other films are loosely based on real events, which would lead you to expect "The Guns of Navarone" is historical accurate as well.

In fact (citing wikipedia again) it's based on a novel, not a real historical event, and there wasn't even a real island called Navarone. But the events of the film/ novel are framed by the real life "Dodecanese Campaign" (W).
(If you're a history geek like me, finding out these things becomes important to you. Apologies to everyone one else.)

The version I rented was the collectors DVD, which contained an interesting admission by the director that if the film was being made now-a-days he would have had to change the whole pacing of the film. It's something we all know, but it was interesting to hear the director say it himself.

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky - Venezuela, a Model for the World?

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