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.

Lawrence of Arabia

  • Directors: David Lean
  • Producers: Sam Spiegel
  • Writers: Robert Bolt, Michael Wilson
  • Genres: Adventure, Biography, Drama, War
  • Actors: Peter O Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains

The film opens with Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) as a civilian, riding his motorcycle down a narrow English country road, only to be killed when he tries to avoid a collision with two boys who are bicycling on the wrong side of the road. At his memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral, reporters try to gain insights into this remarkable, but enigmatic, man from people who knew him, with little success.

The film then flashes back to Cairo during World War I, where Lawrence is a misfit army lieutenant, notable only for his insolence and knowledge of the Bedouin. Over the objections of a sceptical General Murray (Donald Wolfit), he is sent by Mr Dryden (Claude Rains) of the Arab Bureau to assess the prospects of Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness) in his revolt against the Turks.

On the journey, his Bedouin guide is killed by Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif) for drinking from a well without permission. Near Feisal’s camp, he encounters his superior officer, Colonel Brighton (Anthony Quayle), who orders him to keep quiet, make his assessment, and then leave. He promptly ignores these commands when he meets Feisal. His fine intellect and outspokenness pique the prince’s interest.

The Arabs set up a council to administer the city, but they are tribesmen, not a nation. Unable to maintain the electricity, telephones, and waterworks, and clashing constantly with each other, they soon abandon most of Damascus to the British. Lawrence is promoted to colonel and then immediately relieved of his command and sent home, his usefulness at an end. The negotiations are left to Feisal and the British and French diplomats. A dejected Lawrence is driven away in a staff car.