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Force 10 From Navarone

Force 10 From Navarone

You really cannot go wrong with any movie that stars Robert Shaw, Harrison Ford, the stunningly gorgeous Barbara Bach (easily my favorite actress and Bond girl) and Edward Fox and this movie – although blasted by the critics upon its release – really is a great action adventure war movie. In fact the Jimmy Carter White House picked the movie only weeks before its December 1978 opening to be the Thanksgiving movie to be screened at Camp David.
I have watched this movie over and over again, reveling in a 1978-era nostalgia when, as a seven-year-old, I would sit in the local town hall (which once a month was converted into a movie theater) wowed by the action unfolding on the screen.
Many saw this film as a disappointment due to its attachment to 1961’s The Guns of Navarone, but if it is taken up on its own merits then one can see that this is really nothing more than a fun movie for funs sake, a much lighter tone with no serious character studies here, and the movie is all the better for it.
The movie gets its title from the Alistair MacLean book of the same name, but bears little resemblance to the actual narrative of the novel. In fact the differences are so apparent that MacLean would go on to loosely adapt part of the screenplay into his 1982 book “Partisans”. Initially there had been plans to film this movie shortly after the 1961 original with Gregory Peck and David Niven reprising their roles. Following the success of the original movie producer Carl Foreman asked MacLean to write a hardcover sequel novel on which a follow-up film would be based, but the author was reluctant to write an entire novel and instead delivered a screen treatment. The film was announced for 1967 but after the script got bogged down in studio development hell MacLean decided to develop the screen treatment as a book and “Force 10 From Navarone” was published in 1968.
Throughout the 1970s Foreman tried to get enough financial backing for the movie and eventually patched together enough money to finance the production from no fewer than five different international sources. But by the time the movie finally went before the cameras (some 17 years after the original) it was thought that Peck and Niven were too old and the decision was made to recast. In an interesting footnote to this theory Peck and Niven would team up two years later in the excellent World War II action adventure “The Sea Wolves” in which the two actors played retired veterans seeking one last hurrah, by covertly blowing up a German ship in the neutral Portuguese harbor of Goa in India.
Bond fans will notice a number of actors in this movie that had already occupied roles in the Bond franchise or would go on to appear in the series. In addition to Shaw (from “From Russia With Love”), Bach (who was fresh off playing the Russian spy Anya Amasova in “The Spy Who Loved Me”), and Edward Fox (who would go on to play M in the rogue 007 movie “Never Say Never Again”) there is also Bach’s co-star from “The Spy Who Loved Me” Richard Kiel, who was riding high as somewhat of a cultural icon (hey, he appeared in a Shredded Wheat TV commercial) after playing perhaps the most famous 007 henchman Jaws.
The Bond connections do not stop there, George MacDonald Fraser worked as a script doctor after Ian Bannen left the production. Fraser would go on to write the screenplay for the 1983 007 movie “Octopussy.”
I suppose the Bond connection is most apparent in the choice of director with “Goldfinger”‘s director Guy Hamilton handling the honors. His sure direction shows his usual flair and expertise handling action that he so ably previously demonstrated in (perhaps the best of the early James Bond movies) the aforementioned “Goldfinger” and the World War II drama “Battle of Britain.” Hamilton does succumb to some espionage cliches at times, such as when one of the characters stumbles across the traitor sending a message, but all of these instances are handled capably and add to the familiar nature of the plot.
As already mentioned the plot of the movie is also very different from the MacLean book, but some good Boy’s Own adventure that actually flows slightly better than its literary namesake. Shaw (in his last movie role) plays Mallory (yes the same character that Peck played in the original) and he and Fox’s character (who was played by Niven in the original) are sent into Yugoslavia to identify and kill a traitor from the first movie. So, they hop a ride along with Force 10 (headed by Ford’s character) who are headed to the same location with the mission of destroying a key, strategic bridge. Of course things do not go entirely to plan, and soon the action begins to come thick and fast. An interesting piece of trivia I discovered when researching this movie is that the bridge over the Tara River was actually destroyed by partisans in 1942 with the original engineer that built the bridge involved in the operation to destroy it.
Filmed on location in Yugoslavia (with members of Tito’s Yugoslav army playing both partisans and German soldiers), England and Malta the crew had to endure freezing temperatures and even a rash of kidnapping that led producers to limit the actors movements. Shepperton Studios in England (where the original had also been filmed) provided four soundstages for interiors to include a full mock-up of an original World War II Lancaster bomber plane, and the largest studio tank in Europe (at the Mediterranean Film Studios in Malta) was used to film the movie climax with a $1 million miniature dam.
As previously noted the critics almost universally hated the movie and the moviegoing audience did not warm to it either with the $10 million production only bringing in $7.2 million during its U.S. theatrical run. Matters were probably not helped when the U.S. distributor American International Pictures trimmed the picture down from 126 minutes to 118 minutes and redubbed some of the scenes prior to the movies release, with an impersonator performing the duties for the late Robert Shaw. However in the 30-plus years since its release the movie has developed a cult following among World War II movie buffs.
In an interesting footnote, Columbia Pictures was the defendent in a 2008 lawsuit brought by the estates of the late producers of the film Carl Foreman, Sidney Cohn and Oliver Unger and surviving producer Peter Gettinger over unpaid money from distribution rights. The New York Supreme Court found in favor of the producers, saying they were entitled to funds that had been witheld for over 30 years by Columbia Pictures.
This movie would get a lot more respect if it didn’t have the name “Navarone” attached to it. It’s rather strange that a movie which received such a hostile critical reception and low takings at the box office should be one of the early catalog titles in the lives of both the DVD and Blu-ray formats (three years for after format launch for DVD and just over two years for Blu-ray) and before the original “Guns of Navarone,” . Today I own this movie on DVD, Blu-ray and purchased a license for HD streaming media on VUDU (a little known fact is that we never actually own a movie on streaming media such as iTunes, VUDU or Amazon, but merely a license to stream it) but regardless, as a fan of the movie I am happy to be able to watch “Force 10 From Navarone” in all its high definition goodness.


Force 10 from Navarone is a 1978 British-American war film loosely based on Alistair MacLean’s 1968 novel of the same name. It is a sequel to the 1961 film The Guns of Navarone. The parts of Mallory and Miller are played by Robert Shaw (who died before the film was released) and Edward Fox, succeeding the roles originally portrayed by Gregory Peck and David Niven. It was directed by Guy Hamilton and also stars Harrison Ford, Carl Weathers, Barbara Bach, Franco Nero, and Richard Kiel.


Robert Shawas Maj. Keith Mallory
Harrison Fordas Lt. Col. Mike Barnsby
Barbara Bachas Maritza Petrović
Edward Foxas S/Sgt. John Miller
Franco Neroas Capt. Lescovar
Carl Weathersas Sgt. Weaver
Richard Kielas Capt. Dražak
Alan Badelas Maj. Petrović
Michael Byrneas Maj. Schroeder
Philip Lathamas Cmdr. Jensen
Angus MacInnesas Lt. Doug Reynolds
Michael Sheardas Sgt. Bauer
Petar Bunticas Marko

My Review


Perhaps my favorite war movie You really cannot go wrong with any movie that stars Robert Shaw, Harrison Ford, the stunningly gorgeous Barbara Bach (easily my favorite actress and Bond girl) and Edward Fox and this movie - although blasted by the critics upon its release - really is a great action adventure war movie.

Girl Appeal

About The Author


Born on the English-Scottish border I emigrated to the US after graduating college in 1995 and became a U.S. citizen in 2007. I have served in the U.S. military and my past positions include as an Assistant Managing Editor of The Washington Post Company, a technical writer working on technical documentation for both a construction company and a large government contractor, a graphic designer creating graphics in support of government contract proposals, and as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy. which included being assigned as the official writer for the Navy and DoD on the assumption ceremony of a new Secretary of the Navy. I am currently a Web Services Writer for a large government contractor in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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