on 15 April 2008
I rather disagree with the previous reviewer. This is a classic British War movie that features two great actors. Their performances alone make it well worth watching. What gives it entertainment value is that it is extremely descriptive of a bygone age. I think it provides a useful insight to the values and characters of Britain at that time. It is easy to forget that the outcome of WW II was far from certain until January 1945. It took a certain national pride and bravado to win the day. This film exemplifies it. of course, it is a bit dated and perhaps the script could be tighter. The bottom line is, if you like Dirk Bogarde, then you'll probably like this movie.
on 17 August 2009
They Who Dare is a satisfying war film based upon actual events.
The director Lewis Milestone was determined that the film should be as accurate as possible and drew upon accounts from those who took part in the operation.
Set and filmed in the Greek islands, a group of commandoes together with Greek patriots, are sent to destroy two airfields held by German forces. The raids are not without difficulties and the tension mounts as the raiders make their escape.
Dirk Bogarde and William Russell star, with strong support from Denholm Elliott, Akim Tamiroff and Gerald Oury. A thrilling and enjoyable film. Well worth a watch.
They Who Dare is directed by Lewis Milestone and written by Robert Westerby. It stars Dirk Bogarde, Denholm Elliott, Akim Tamiroff, William Russell, Eric Pohlmann and Harold Siddons. Music is by Robert Gill and cinematograpy by Wilkie Cooper.
It’s “men on a mission” time as Special Commandos and some Greek partisans meet up on Rhodes to blow up two German airfields. And that’s about it really, oh of course there’s problems along the way such as questions of loyalty, hazards and set-backs such as minefields, and talking – lots of talking - as the men stand or sit around pondering the war and or - their own inadequacies etc. When the big action finale comes it is kind of worth the wait, but the performances are only adequate throughout and the script is lazily written to the point of tedium setting in. 5/10
I was a little bit disappointed by this old British war film, especially considering that the topic was so interesting and full of possibilities. Below, more of my impressions with some SPOILERS.
"They who dare" was made in 1954 and it was inspired by real war time actions of Special Boat Service (SBS) and Special Air Service (SAS) against German and Italian airfields in Greek islands and in Africa - the title is a variation of the SAS motto "Who Dares Wins". The scenario is based in large part on the real events, namely the operation "Anglo" (31 August - 18 September 1942), in which SBS attacked two airfields on Italian occupied island of Rhodes.
The purpose of this operation was to infiltrate into the airfields by night and destroy a maximum of airplanes, especially bombers, in order to "thin the herd" of Axis airforce, at a time when Rommel was making another effort to break allied lines in Egypt (Operation "Brandung"). In the real history the attack, carried by eight British commandos and four Greek soldiers serving as guides and interpreters, was a success - but it was dearly paid. For the needs of the scenario the real events were however modified, so this film, although respecting many details, is NOT an exact re-telling of this operation.
The director clearly made some effort to give his movie an air of realism. The film was partly shot in Cyprus, an island which mountains look pretty much like those on Rhodes. Lebanese Air Force, which in 1954 still operated World War II vintage Italian bombers Savoia-Marchetti SM79 "Sparviero" (as transport planes) co-operated in this film and as a result we can see some of those authenthic Axis bombers taking off, landing and also standing on the airfield the night of the attack. On another hand, the "Italian" armored vehicles we can see in this film are just old Bren Gun Carriers (retired from British Army soon after World War II) with some rather extravagant "armor" (wooden) added.
Actors did well in this film. Sir Dirk Bogarde was a great actor and simply couldn't deliver a bad performance, even if he wanted it, but others did fine too. I especially liked the performance of Denholm Elliott, an actor who would much later appear in two of the "Indiana Jones" movies as Dr. Marcus Brody.
The scenario however is of very unequal quality. Most of the film is too slow and finally devoided of great interest - dialogs are weak, not much happens and the supposedly well trained commandos act occasionally like clumsy morons. There are some attempts at crude humour, with the character of the commander of Greek submarine which will carry the commandos to Rhodes (in real history there were two submarines involved, British HMS "Traveller" and Greek "Papanikolis"). He is portrayed as an obese, slovenly, aged wino, more the skipper of a coastal fishing boat than an officer... Frankly, even if I am not Greek (I am Polish) it didn't amuse me much - and if you want to have an idea how REAL Greek naval officers looked in this time, look up on the internet the real commander of "Papanikolis", Lieutenant Nikolas Roussen.
In fact, this film becomes REALLY good only in the last 25 minutes, AFTER the attack itself. I will not say here much about what happens during this time, but this is VERY GOOD cinema!
So bottom line, this is a rather average film, watchable, but no more - with the exception of the final part, which is a recommended viewing. But no matter its weaknesses, this film should appeal to all Dirk Bogarde's fans and also to most war films amateurs.
on 30 April 2009
YOU WATCH A GREAT MANY WAR FILMS IF YOU FIND THAT WAR FILMS ARE YOUR FORTE, SOME FILMS WORK ON REALISM AND SOME ON JUST A GOOD STORY . WELL THIS ONE STANDS OUT BY FAR IN THE FORMER GROUP. ITS STORY IS BASED ON TRUE FACTS AND ITS IS INDEED GREAT THAT THE MAKERS HAVE BEEN ABLE TO FIND AND USE SOME OF THE RARE AND UNIQUE ORIGINAL AIRCRAFT FOR THE FILM THIS IN ITS SELF MAKES THE FILM WORTH WATCHING. THE FILM IS BASED IN AND AROUND THE GREEK ISLANDS DIRK BOGARDE PLAYS A AN OFFICER DETERMINED TO CARRY OUT HIS DANGEROUS TASK OF DESTROYING TWO ENEMY HELD AIRFIELDS. THE BACK UP CAST ALSO MAKE THE WHOLE FILM GREAT. IF YOU ARE A KEEN WAR FILM COLLECTOR YOU MUST MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE THIS ONE.
FROM THE OLD HIGH FLYER.
on 8 September 2012
i have to admit that i didn't expect much from "they who dare." the film doesn't seem to be a fondly-remembered classic of the war genre and surely enough, it isn't.
there maybe some good photography on location in greece but that can hardly compensate for poor dialogue, lack of excitement of any kind, shoddy direction, a slow pace and rather undistinguished acting.
this isn't exactly one of dirk bogarde best films. actually, i would go so far as to say that "they who dare" is a decidely average production with nothing to commend it whatever.
there are far better british war films from this period, such as "dunkirk," "ice cold in alex" and "the dam busters."