Saturday, September 20, 2014

War film 1: The Guns of Navarone (1961)

After an introduction to the War Films Podcast idea, we discuss Carl Foreman's WWII adventure tour-de-force, The Guns of Navarone, based on the Alistair MacLean novel and starring Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn and Anthony Quayle. Click the image below to listen to the podcast (32.6MB, 1 hour 30 mins).

Recorded Friday 19 September 2014, edited by Garen Ewing.

Notes and Errata: Kurosawa's Seven Samurai was indeed 1954. Where Eagles Dare has a body count of 100 according to, which places it at no. 62 in the Top 100, though well in the top 20 for its war film category. The ruins at the start of Navarone are indeed the Parthenon, while those used later in the film seem to be the temple ruins at Lindos on Rhodes.

Purchase the DVD from Amazon UK: The Guns of Navarone (1961)


  1. Very enjoyable program! Again, always learn something new, especially from the British view.

    I have seen this film about the same as you, Murray, over the years. So when I learned of the podcast, I made it a point to watch it a few times. TCM helped too, with a recent broadcast.

    At the end of the TCM showing, they said William Holden was the first choice for Mallory, but at the time he was wanting more money. (i read that Holden wanted $750,000, plus 10% of the gross.) The producers didn't want to meet his demands, so Gregory Peck was their second choice.

    After reading the story, Peck told them, he didn't want to do it, because he couldn't believe his character could really do what the scripted called for. (Go in with a small group of men into German held territory, and blow up the guns.) But, he took on the part and gave it his best. The producers got Peck, Niven's and Quinn, well below Holden's asking price.

    Very strong cast, and your right about the women parts. Not decorative roles. Though I did think, they must have been looking out at the gate, longer than the film showed, for Anna to be alone long enough to get at Millers explosives. (I haven't read the book, but was there a similar male character that did the same as she did in the film? She was such a key role here, as Miller (David N.) figured out as the reason they were in hot water so often.)

    I agree about the effects being excellent. (I had no idea those planes were models.) I thought the colouring (lighting) of the film (the tones of it), helped make the studio and on location shots, blend in seamlessly.

    Another thing I really enjoyed about watching these older films, is the lack of the "f" word being used. So many later films are overloaded with it. Funny thing is, I rarely ever heard profanity from anyone when I was growing up. Didn't hear it hardly at all, until college. Now I hear young kids and teens saying it all the time, as if they don't know any other better way of saying things. But pop culture is full of it for years now.) Just sounds like people have gotten lazy with language. I know the history of such words being banned in films, etc., but it's a pleasure to hear people talk more intelligently, instead loading every sentence with profanity. This had cussing, but it wasn't overloaded with it in every sentence.

    The podcast entry music was great. (Actually missed hearing it at the end. :-)
    Looking forward to the next program!

  2. Thanks for the thoughts, and info! I didn't know about Peck's reluctance to take the role. One thing I did hear was how everyone would be reluctant to appear first on set, so the director did a deal with Peck, asking him to come first on set, then leave when other people started to arrive, so that he could then make a second entrance as _not_ being the first on set! Strange, the ways of film stars...

    Glad you liked the music!

  3. Interesting point about the stars. It does seem like a strange world.

    By the way, I was looking up about the ship sounds at the end of the movie to see if I could learn anything more about it. I found a few items, but not much. But I did run into a page called 'Authentic navy alarm sounds.' (If you google that complete phrase, you should find it.)

    They had one listing of a siren that sounded a bit like that sound in the film. It was called an antique Star Brass Steam Siren. It says, it was used often in WWII movies. The recording they have is very short, but I think if blown differently, might be like the one in the film. At least, the closes item I can find.

    (Again, very glad you have this podcast series. We just recently watched 'A Bridge too Far' and were plainly blown away by it! Talk about a film that we never heard much about here, but glad we know it now.) Cheers!