Movie Club: The Guns Of Navarone

Discussion in 'Introductions & Off Topic' started by LiamABC, Apr 8, 2017.

  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    A big thanks to everyone that are joining us through all of this.

    This week we're doing another film from a bit further back, "The Guns Of Navarone", starring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn, based on the book by Alistair MacLean.

    Remember any ideas for films to discuss are most welcome, and should be made on the Movie Club Introduction thread (the sticky one).

    Just a friendly reminder to everyone that, whilst fans are obviously welcome to passionately discuss and give their views on these episodes, please remember to keep things on a friendly footing and respect your fellow posters.
    Also, please do not post where or how to find the full movie online. And do not post asking others to PM it to you. You are however allowed to watch the movie in whatever manner you want.
  2. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Oh well, if nobody else is going to say anything, I'll add my comments now. I don't like being the first to comment on here, but someone's got to do it.

    The plot is very well handled, this is truly one of the great war films of its generation or any other. Setup, operation explained, complications, tensions, and finally the payoff, all done to a T.

    As a fan of the book, I naturally find myself making comparisons, and I can say that while there are a few tweaks from the book, it's nothing of consequence, and the tweaks that they do make actually work in the film's favour. It's mainly the sequence of events in the middle, concerning the group's capture by the Germans and their entry into the town via the cave network that happens in a different order in the book.

    The main characters have been tweaked very slightly to add dramatic tension, and it works well enough. Perhaps the most obvious change from the book is the exact nature of the team. Franklin and Papadimos aren't in the book, instead there's a young officer, Lt Stevens, and he's the one injured climbing the mountain. Also he's not left behind at the German base, but stays behind to buy them time when they're running for the caves. Also in the book the two resistance agents were male.

    But the most glaring difference was in the character of Miller. In the book, he was American. When I first saw the film and saw that David Niven was playing Miller, I thought, "that's not right!" - but they changed the character to one that was perfect for Niven to play, and he played it to perfection. Actually, this explained why, when MacLean wrote a sequel a few years later, Force Ten From Navarone, Miller in that book doesn't sound American. I had wondered why this was, until I saw this film, and it all made sense. He wrote the sequel not as a sequel to his own book but as a sequel to the film!

    Which is really a testament to how wonderful the film is. The book was amazing, but the film is even beter. If you ask MacLean fans which is the best film adaptation of one of his books, the majority vote will be split between this and "Where Eagles Dare" (starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood). I'd plump for this, but would definitely agree that "Where Eagles Dare" is a worthy second. (Note, the film of "Force Ten From Navarone" is absolutely awful, which is a shame because the book was absolutely fine.)

    Incidentally, the 1987 cartoon Spiral Zone had an episode "Assault On The Rock" which drew a lot of inspiration from this story! (And another episode, "Eine Kleine Zone Musik", that reminds me of "Where Eagles Dare"!)
    Mark M likes this.
  3. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I haven't had chance to watch the film yet but I am hoping to watch it later today.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
  4. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    I finally watched ''The Guns of Navarone''.

    My only real experience with Alistair Maclean's work is reading 'Caravan to Vaccares'' (a book Liam recommended) and seeing the movie of it. The book was brilliant...the movie was awful.

    I have heard of ''The Guns of Navarone'' for a long time. I have never seen it but I have seen bits of the sequel movie on TV.
    Personally I am not keen on WW2 films although there is a few WW2 films I really like and this film is now one of the select few.
    I found the story and characters very interesting and the pace, excitement and suspense very Hitchcockian. Especially the end scene.
    The execution scene was really surprising.
    Overall I really enjoyed this film.
    I would definitely like to get the DVD to watch a better quality version of the movie as the sound on the YouTube version wasn't great and maybe read the novel. It would also be interesting to watch ''Force 10 From Navarone''.
  5. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Trust me, "Force 10 From Navarone" is a travesty! Well, the book is all right, but the movie is awful!

    For what it's worth, here's my assessments of Alistair MacLean books and their movie adaptions where applicable. In chronological order of book publication:

    HMS Ulysses (1955): *****, n/a
    The Guns Of Navarone (1957/1961): *****, *****
    South By Java Head (1957): ****, n/a
    The Last Frontier (1959/1961, filmed as The Secret Ways): ****, haven't seen
    Night Without End (1959): *****, n/a
    Fear Is The Key (1961/1972 I think): ***, ***
    The Dark Crusader (1961): *****, n/a
    The Golden Rendezvous (1962/1977): *****, ****
    The Satan Bug (1962/1965): ****, ***
    Ice Station Zebra (1963/1968): *****, ** (I'll say possible 3 stars for the film if you haven't read the book, but if you have read the book the film is awful)
    When Eight Bells Toll (1966/1971): ****, ****
    Where Eagles Dare (1967/1968): *****, *****
    Force 10 From Navarone (1968/1978): ****, * (it was seriously that bad!)
    Puppet On A Chain (1969/1971): ****, ****
    Caravan To Vaccares (1970/1974): ****, ** (the film retains the Camargue setting but the plot seems more like The Last Frontier!)
    Bear Island (1971/1979): ****, **
    The Way To Dusty Death (1973/1996): **, haven't seen
    Breakheart Pass (1974/1975): ***, ****
    Circus (1975): **, n/a
    The Golden Gate (1976): ***, n/a
    Seawitch (1977): **, n/a
    Goodbye California (1977): *, n/a
    Athabasca (1980): ****, n/a
    River Of Death (1981/1989): **, haven't seen
    Partisans (1982): **, n/a
    Floodgate (1983): *, n/a
    San Andreas (1984): ***, n/a
    Santorini (1986): ****, n/a
    Mark M likes this.
  6. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    That's an interesting assessment of the books and movies.
    Any ideas for the next movie?
  7. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Well, we talked about that since, the post will be going up this weekend.

    The funny thing with the MacLean film adaptions is that, apart from The Guns Of Navarone, the best film adaptions are the ones where he wrote his own screenplay - Where Eagles Dare, When Eight Bells Toll, Puppet On A Chain and Breakheart Pass. I guess it makes sense, they were his stories, his characters, he knew what he was doing with them.

    The Golden Rendezvous and The Satan Bug are worth watching, both faithful to the books, and work OK. Fear Is The Key is also faithful to the book, but there's a feeling of "oh, is that it?" at the end. It's all right, but nothing special.

    Ice Station Zebra was a huge disappointment for me. The book was amazing, one of his very best, but the film just went off on a tangent. OK, maybe that tangent is passable if you haven't read the book, but I have and know that the film could have been so much more. Apparently they're remaking it. I'll be interested, but will withhold judgement until I've seen it.

    Caravan To Vaccares was also a disappointment, but in a different way. Yes, they changed the story quite a bit, although they sort of changed it to something resembling one of his other books, The Last Frontier/The Secret Ways (US title, also used for the film). So it's more weird than anything else for me. It's a little bit identikit. It could have been better.

    Bear Island was also a let-down, but at the same time, I suppose I can see why they changed it. The book is good, but at the same time, it's not an obvious one to film. The film bears little relation to the original text, and may possibly be OK if you haven't read the book. It's one of those I need to watch again. I've seen it 2-3 times, and am leaning more towards the hating it camp, but maybe I need to appreciate it in its own right. Not sure though.

    I haven't seen the films of The Secret Ways, The Way To Dusty Death and River Of Death, so can't comment. None of the books are among his very best - all worth reading once, maybe twice in the case of The Last Frontier (The Secret Ways), but nothing special. Well, The Last Frontier is a good book, but it's a shade too long before we have any idea at all of what's happening and what the hero is even doing.

    But the real doozy in the film adaption stakes is Force 10 From Navarone - sequel to The Guns Of Navarone. The Guns Of Navarone, I've said before, is the best of the MacLean film adaptions, Force 10 From Navarone is the worst. Out of the ones I've seen at any rate. It takes a meandering course through the text, making changes that don't make sense or are completely gratuitous, before eventually ending up somewhere near the book again at the end, in terms of basic plot objective. The irony here is that the book had the makings of a great film, all they had to do was stick to the text . . .

    As for the books that weren't filmed, well, most of them would probably have made good films. HMS Ulysses, Night Without End and The Dark Crusader would certainly have been great, and, with careful handling, South By Java Head. The last of those is a good book, but I think MacLean struggled in how to weave all the characters together at the start - the way the scene suddenly shifts in chapter 3 and the focus is on a new set of characters. A film would have enabled them to start with those characters, then add in the characters from chapters 1-2 the way they were found in chapters 4-5, and reveal their backstories that way. I wonder if that's what MacLean meant to do when he wrote it, but decided the earlier bits needed to be properly shown. I don't know. The shift is comparable to The Count Of Monte Cristo, but I digress.

    As for later books that weren't filmed, well, that's more of a mixed bag. The Golden Gate would surely have made a decent film, as would Santorini. So too would Goodbye Calirofnia - despite the book being tedious, it has that feeling that it would make a good film. Athabasca, much as I enjoy it, might need a little work doing, it's one where he tried to be too complicated, but it's OK enough for all that (he made the same error with Bear Island). San Andreas, nothing to do with earthquakes, I'm not sure either way about. It's not bad, a film would probably be OK, but nothing special. Seawitch, well, that's high on action but low on character interest, and neither side is really worth rooting for. Partisans is weird, because there is potential for a film, but it would involve going into more depth on the bits that were glossed over - namely the action scenes! Floodgate is best forgotten about, it's that dull. As for Circus, well, it's clunkingly obvious, but fast-paced enough. Maybe it could have worked, maybe not.
  8. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    The problem with books being made into movies is the director the studio picks and the team they get to write the screenplay etc. then the casting of the actors...

    Caravan to Vaccares was an excellent book. Interesting characters, fast paced and very enjoyable. It could very simply have been adapted to a movie but I thought the movie was a real mess and did the book no justice at all.

    A movie based on a book the vast majority of the time really should stick as close to the book as possible.
    The Eagle Has Landed, The Eye of the Needle, Shawshank Redemption and Misery are great examples of movies that stuck pretty close to the book, and in the case of The Shawshank Redemption and Misery, had great critical success.

    However there indeed some exceptions to that rule. Stephen King's The Shining instantly comes to mind. The book is great, but the movie Kubrick directed is really different from the book. Regardless though, the movie has become an iconic cult classic.
    Maybe we could discuss the Shining after the next movie?
  9. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Finally got around to watching this episode and it was really good. I definitely must watch more of Spiral Zone.
  10. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    Perhaps we'll cover it in ROCKS eventually.

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