This rousing, explosive 1961 World War II adventure, based on Alistair MacLean's thrilling novel, turns the war thriller into a deadly caper film. Gregory Peck heads a star-studded cast charged with a near impossible mission: destroy a pair of German guns nestled in a protective cave on the strategic Mediterranean island of Navarone, from where they can control a vital sea passage. As world-famous mountain climber turned British army Captain, Mallory (Peck) leads a guerrilla force composed of the humanitarian explosives expert, Miller (David Niven), the ruthless Greek patriot with a grudge, Stavros (Anthony Quinn), veteran special forces soldier Brown (Stanley Baker) and the cool, quiet young marksman Pappadimos (James Darren). This disparate collection of classic types must overcome internal conflicts, enemy attacks, betrayal and capture to complete their mission. Director J. Lee Thompson sets a driving pace for this exciting (if familiar) military operation, a succession of close calls, pitched battles and last-minute escapes as our heroes infiltrate the garrisoned town with the help of resistance leader Maria (Irene Papas) and plot their entry into the heavily guarded mountain fort. Carl Foreman's screenplay embraces MacLean's role call of clichés and delivers them with style, creating one of the liveliest mixes of espionage, combat and good old-fashioned military derring-do put on film, while Dimitri Tiomkin's score is as sturdy as the rock of Navarone itself. --Sean Axmaker
On the DVD: This special-edition DVD gives the modern-day viewer a taste of what movies were like in 1961. Four curious featurettes are included, produced as publicity for the film. James Darren narrates a little ditty at his honeymoon in Malta during filming; Irene Papas narrates a giddy, old-fashioned look at "Two Girls on the Town". There is even a filmed bit with producer-writer Carl Foreman that was shown once at the premiere. The 30-minute retrospective, "Memories of Navarone", made in 1999 has the expected reminiscences from Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn. Director J. Lee Thompson's audio commentary is a bit frustrating; he's now in his 80s, and most of his recollections are slow in coming. A historian could have brought out the film's history (it was the most expensive movie ever made at time of release) and produced a more vital viewing. --Doug Thomas
Featurettes -- "A Message from Carl Foreman", "Great Guns", "Honeymoon on Rhodes", "No Visitors",
Two Girls on the Town"
"Memories of Navarone" Documentary
Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen 1:2.35 enhanced for 16:9 TVs
Languages -- English, French, German
Subtitles -- English, French, German, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Hindi,
Turkish, Danish, Arabic, Swedish, Finnish, Icelandic, Dutch, Norwegian,
Greek, Hebrew, Bulgarian.