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.

High Noon

  • Directors: Fred Zinnemann
  • Producers: Stanley Kramer, Carl Foreman
  • Writers: John W Cunningham, Carl Foreman
  • Genres: Drama, Western
  • Actors: Gary Cooper, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges, Katy Jurado, Grace Kelly

Will Kane (Gary Cooper), the longtime Marshal of Hadleyville, New Mexico Territory, has just married pacifist Quaker Amy (Grace Kelly), turned in his badge, and is preparing to move away to become a storekeeper. Soon after, the town learns that Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), a criminal Kane brought to justice, is due to arrive on the noon train. Miller had been sentenced to the gallows, but was pardoned for reasons never stated in the film. In court, he had vowed to get revenge on Kane and anyone who got in his way. His three gang members wait for him at the station. The worried townspeople encourage Kane to leave, hoping to defuse the situation.

Kane and his wife leave, but Kane has a crisis of conscience and turns back. He reclaims his badge and tries to swear in help, but it becomes clear that no one is willing to get involved. His deputy, Harvey Pell (Lloyd Bridges), resigns. Only his former lover, Helen RamГ­rez (Katy Jurado), supports him, but there is little she can do to help. Disgusted, she sells her business and prepares to leave town. His wife threatens to leave on the noon train with or without him, but he stubbornly refuses to give in.

In the end, Kane faces the four gunmen alone. He guns down two of Miller’s men, though he himself is wounded. Helen Ramirez and Amy both board the train, but Amy gets off when she hears the sound of gunfire. Amy chooses her husband’s life over her religious beliefs and kills the third gunman by shooting him in the back. Miller then takes her hostage and offers to trade her for Kane. Kane agrees, coming out into the open. Amy, however, claws Miller’s face, causing him to release her. Kane then shoots and kills him. Then, as the cowardly townspeople emerge, Kane contemptuously throws his marshal’s star in the dirt and leaves town with his wife.

The Bridge on the River Kwai

  • Directors: David Lean
  • Producers: Sam Spiegel
  • Writers: Pierre Boulle, Carl Foreman, Michael Wilson
  • Genres: Adventure, Drama, War
  • Actors: Alec Guinness, Sessue Hayakawa, William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Geoffrey Horne

Two prisoners of war are burying a corpse in the graveyard of a Japanese World War II prison camp in southern Burma. One, American Navy Commander Shears (William Holden), routinely bribes guards to ensure he gets sick duty, which allows him to avoid hard labour. A large contingent of British prisoners arrives, marching in defiantly whistling the Colonel Bogey March under the leadership of Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness).

The Japanese camp commander, Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa), addresses them, informing them of his rules. He insists that all prisoners, regardless of rank, will work on the construction of a bridge over the Kwai River as part of a railroad that will link Bangkok, Thailand and Rangoon, Burma.

The next morning, when Saito orders everyone to work, Nicholson commands his officers to stand fast. He points out that the Geneva Conventions state that captured officers are exempt from manual labour. Saito is infuriated, but Nicholson refuses to back down, even after Saito has a machine gun set up and threatens to have the officers shot. Saito is dissuaded by Major Clipton (James Donald), a British medical officer, who warns of an inquiry and scandal should Saito carry through with his threat; instead, the Japanese commander leaves Nicholson and his officers standing in the intense heat. As the day wears on, one of them collapses, but Nicholson and the rest are still standing defiantly at attention when the men return from the day’s work. The British officers are placed in a punishment cage and Nicholson is locked into his own box to suffer in the heat.

Warden responds to the shocked stares of the women porters by pleading, “I had to do it! They might have been taken alive! It was the only thing to do!” Meanwhile, Major Clipton has witnessed the carnage unfold; he shakes his head incredulously and utters, “Madness! … Madness!”