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The Guns of Navarone

Year: 1961
Studio: Columbia
Director: J Lee Thompson
Writer: Alistair McLean
Cast: Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Richard Harris
One of the classics from the old-style, Boys Own Adventure crop of war movies, with some of the stalwarts of the style in iron-jawed Gregory Peck and David Niven.

It's one of those cultural markers everyone knows but only people who can be bothered actually watching the film to see what it's all about know the story behind. Everyone's heard the term 'guns of Navarone' but be honest with yourself - before either seeing the movie or reading a review of it, did you have any idea what the guns of Navarone were? I didn't.

They're actually two giant artillery cannons operated by the Nazis from the cliff face of an island not far from Greece, and their position means trying to get allied ships through the slender channel they guard over suicide.

Allied intelligence learns of a huge Nazi landing to occur on an island where several thousand exhausted Brit soldiers lie in wait for rescue, an attack that will result in their slaughter.

The only way to get them out is by ship, and the only way to get ships through to their island is to neutralise the guns, so the colonel charged with rescuing the soon-to-be-besieged troops enlists a crack mountain climber (Peck) to lead a team of commandos on a desperate mission to destroy the guns before the fleet of mercy makes its dash.

It's all intrigue, crackerjack timing and personal conflict on this desperate mission - some of the most loved hallmarks of the genre in an era where audiences could still detach themselves from the realities of war, have fun and be entertained. Not like to day where every war film is an 'issues' movie and a variation on the old 'war is hell' requiem.

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