The Guns of Navarone

  • Directors: J Lee Thompson
  • Producers: Carl Foreman
  • Writers: Alistair MacLean, Carl Foreman
  • Genres: Action, Drama, War, Adventure
  • Actors: Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle, Stanley Baker

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 Keros 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 blow up 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 (James Darren); 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 Franklin that Stavros has sworn to kill him after the war, because he was inadvertently responsible for the deaths of Stavros’ wife and children.

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, having given up his planned vengeance when Mallory risked his life to save him.

Where Eagles Dare

  • Directors: Brian G Hutton
  • Producers: Elliott Kastner, Jerry Gershwin
  • Writers: Alistair MacLean
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, War
  • Actors: Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Mary Ure

Where Eagles Dare takes place during World War II. In the winter of 1943-44, U.S. Army Brigadier General George Carnaby, enroute to Crete to rendezvous with Russian forces to plan the final details of the invasion of Normandy, is captured by the Germans when his aircraft is shot down. He is taken to the Schloß Adler (The Castle of the Eagles – hence the story’s title), a fortress high in the Alps above the town of Werfen and the headquarters of the German Secret Service in southern Bavaria. A special team of mainly British commandos is hurriedly assembled and briefed by Colonel Wyatt Turner and Admiral Rolland of MI6, and led by Major John Smith, MC and US Army Ranger Lieutenant Morris Schaffer. Their mission is to parachute into the locality, infiltrate the Schloß Adler, and rescue General Carnaby before the Germans can interrogate him.

Known only to Smith and Rolland, SOE agent Mary Elison, a trusted member of MI6, accompanies the mission. General Carnaby, really an American actor and look-alike by the name of Cartwright Jones, deliberately crash-landed near the castle after a staged attack by Royal Air Force fighters. He must be rescued before the Germans realize that he truly does not know of any secret plans and is not General Carnaby.

The final scene takes place on board the plane. Smith shows the books of German names to Turner, commenting that one single name is missing — one that the others couldn’t have known, since the mastermind of the German spy network in Britain was kept hidden from them. It is the name Smith showed Kramer earlier that evening, the name Kramer confirmed as the top agent. That name is Colonel Turner. Turner, exposed, faces a court-martial for treason in his native Britain. He chooses suicide, leaping from the plane. Smith returns to Rolland, having successfully destroyed German infiltration in Britain for the remainder of the war.