One of my cousin's took me to see this at the local fleapit way, way back. It must've been the second, or more likely the third time around cos I would have been 9 or 10 at the time, and I guess they weren't too fussy about the age restrictions at provincial cinemas. I thought she was dragging me off to see a cowboy film. Imagine my delight when it turned out to be a brilliant commando comic plot up there on the screen....
Guns of Navarone is a war film that has great characters and a depth that is sadly missing today. The leaders have to wrestle with their consciences in making decisions that will affect the lives of those under them. There is none of this mock-heroic insulting rubbish we see all too often today. Here are people demonstrating genuine fears and emotions without making it ludicrous or false.
Set on fictitious Greek islands, a small group of Allied commandos have to destroy two huge guns that block the way for a rescue fleet of British destroyers who are trying to get 2,000 Allied troops off an island targeted for a massive German invasion.
Ironically this film actually won a best special effects award in 1961, but to me what stands out here is the believeable storyline and the sympathy I feel towards the characters. They are tough but at the same time vulnerable, none more so than the tired and worn out Brown, the knife expert, who tells Captain Mallory that he's been 'killing Germans since 1937. There's no end to them.' As a result Mallory gives him the cold shoulder until Brown, desperate to feel part of the team again, is reduced to pleading his usefulness to Mallory.
Mallory himself is seemingly two men; on one hand, he's the cold-hearted, insensitive robot who has to get the job done, but on the other hand his doubts are shown in one telling scene with the traumatised Greek resistance fighter Anna (portrayed in the book as Panayis, a man), when he asks her if his choices are moral.
Great storyline, plenty of action, and real characters to empathise with. And yes, I agree with others, they don't make them like this anymore, sadly.