The Guns of Navarone - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Guns of Navarone Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 1, 2013
A group of soldiers must blow up a bank of guns in order to get a strategic advantage in WWII.
This film starts out as a basic "guys on a mission" movie, a propagandistic glory epic typical of post-WWII cinema. Toward the beginning, the indomitable Gregory Peck might as well be the swaggering John Wayne, and David Niven could be the wise-cracking Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou. But as the plot thickens and we get to know the characters, the film grows a soul. The efficacy of violence and the cold-heartedness of Mallory become relevant social themes in lieu of performative bad-assery. Miller (Niven's character) serves as the film's conscience, and no one can have a more articulate conscience than the voice and wit of David Niven. It takes a while, but questioning these characters' ethics serves to deepen the film's effectiveness.
Overall, "guys on a mission" films can be trite and uninteresting, but this one rises above its genre by the end.
Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2010
A classic action-adventure that even it's time, can still deliver the goods. Two and half hours of pure excitement and intelligence. One of the greatest action-adventure films ever made. A masterpiece. An exciting, riveting and action-packed thrill-ride. A smart, well-crafted and suspenseful piece of film-making that works extremely well. A tremendously entertaining and vastly epic movie. A trio of brilliant performances from Anthony Quinn, Gregory Peck and David Niven. They are a charming pair of heroes who all have the goods to take down the bad guys and save the day. These particular brand of films still work and have energy and skill to blow away other films of today who have tried to accomplish what this one has.
Super Reviewer
October 27, 2012
An exciting action film about WWII. David Niven is a little absurd, and the romance story was not executed as well as it could have been. Nevertheless, its a favorite war film of mine.
Super Reviewer
½ June 27, 2012
Great action - especially for a movie filmed 50 years ago.
The only thing that bugs me - we are supposed to shed a tear for the four members of the British task force who don't make it, but not give a poop for the 50+ German soldiers they kill.
Super Reviewer
May 14, 2007
Six brave souls set out on a hazardous mission to neutralize a pair of cannons (massive such I may add), installed by the Nazis on the Greek island of Navarone. It's the premise for a movie that has truly earned its pedestal in the cinematic hall of fame. A dynamite story, with richly written characters, whose multi-layered relationships and riveting interplay makes for a thoroughly engrossing experience. It also gives us the mythological beauty of Greece and its islands, which I've personally had the pleasure of visiting a few times. Not to mention the great action and constantly exciting atmosphere, which I will honor with nothing less than my most sincere recommendation. Especially if you love this brand of oldies as much as I do. Then it's an unquestionable must-see!
Super Reviewer
May 7, 2008
I've been killing Germans since 1937; there's no end to it. Yes, that's a memorable, yet problematic, line, for me, from Stanley Baker, one of my all-time heroes from Zulu -- yet another "let's try to dominate the world" film. I have some great friends who are German. One of them, Gordon's wife, has never and won't ever -- and I mean she swears she will never, never ever, out of national embarrassment -- watch The Sound of Music. So to quote De Niro in The Deer Hunter: Okay? (echo echo echo) Okay? Kurt in The Sound of Music is a type. Most Nazi characters in any movie are stereoytypical as well. If you want to see a genuine representation of Germans -- Nazi WWII Germans -- as real people, you should definitely watch The Longest Day. What am I rambling about? Shoots, flixsters, I just wanted to star-rate this one because I'm watching it again for the 99th or so time on TCM. It is a very good view. Watch it if you get the chance; that's all I wanted to say : )
Super Reviewer
May 7, 2007
Not quite as good as Where Eagles Dare but still a hoot
Super Reviewer
May 20, 2007
This military adventure is seriously bogged down with war movie cliches, being based as it is upon a novel by airport paperback hack Alistair MacLean. But the star presence of Peck, Quinn and Niven elevates it above the mundane.
Super Reviewer
½ November 26, 2006
This is my second best adpations of an Alistar MacLean novel and greatest explosive action film.
Super Reviewer
June 26, 2006
Classic tale! An old one, but they dont make em nowadays as they used to.
Paris S.
Super Reviewer
½ October 9, 2015
One of the classic Columbia pictures. Much like Bridge on the River Kwai, Guns on the Navarone is about some tough guys blowing up a big thing. While Kwai focuses on the obsessive British pride surrounding the construction of the bridge, Navarone is more a straightforward heist movie with a broader and badder cast of characters. A great film with a great big climax, but I find some useless baggage just as the film enters its second half,, which serves almost exclusively to remind us that Gregory Peck is a soldier and a decision maker, which is a conclusion the film leads us to early on anyway.
Super Reviewer
October 4, 2013
A very entertaining WWII movie that seems to be one of the last of a continuous set of films that came out post-war. The story is aided by singling out one very specific but important mission in a very specific but important place. Peck is fantastic as the man in charge.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
May 30, 2013
Action, adventure, war, the word "Guns" in the film's title, a narration by James Robertson Justice, and the guy who directed the original "Cape Fear", the last two installments of the "Planet of the Apes" series, and "Death Wish 4: The Crackdown"! Boy howdy, this film really might be what the trailer said it was: as exciting as its cast, which is so exciting that it features Peter Grant, some guy who went on to manage Led Zeppelin. Yeah, If you think that little fun fact is downright thrilling, then you are pretty excitable, kind of like the marketers of this film who kept going on and on about how exciting this film is. I don't know, Greg Peck's voice, alone, raises a mighty high standard, and plus, it's hard to keep excitement all that constant for over two-and-a-half hours, and sure enough, as exciting as this film is, it's not quite what the trailer "promised" me it would be: probably the most exciting film I have ever seen. Shoot, they really knew how to sell a film back in 1961, and by that, I mean oversell, because I for one was already pretty interested in seeing this because I wanted to figure out the difference between [u]Anthony Q[/u]uinn and [u]Anthony Q[/u]uayle, outside of the fact that, well, one's English and the other is Mexican-American. Wow, it sounds like about as excitable as those guys who think that Peter Grant's managing Led Zeppelin is mind-blowing, and if I'm telling you that this isn't the most exciting film that I've ever seen, then it probably isn't. That being said, this film is still pretty exciting, though only for so long, because even with all of this excitement in the air, momentum is hardly without its share of blows.

This is a story dripping with intrigue, and that's fine and all, but such a story had the misfortune of being interpreted at this time where subtlety wasn't exactly widely practiced in most areas of a cinema, much less the action areas, and sure enough, among the most dated aspects of this 1961 film is, of all things, storytelling, which is tainted by histrionics, achieved by anything from melodramatic dialogue to thin, formulaic characterization. Sure, there is enough genuineness to characterization, or at least the performances behind the characterization, for your investment in the leads to be firmly secured, yet too many of our characters' aspects feel manufactured as components to a story that is almost forcibly pumped up with melodramatic conflicts, handled with little subtlety and only so much originality. If films of this type were known to be nothing else at this time, it was formulaic, and sure enough, as particularly effective and, in some ways, reasonably refreshing as this '60s action-adventure war flick is, it hits more than a few tropes, and by more than a few, I mean more than it should. In all fairness, the superficiality of certain aspects to this film's storytelling was never to do tension any favors, but predictability goes firmly reinforced by conventionalism that may not thin out compellingness too much, yet nonetheless retards momentum that was never to be too rich, not with a runtime this overlong. As much as the marketers babbled on and on and on about how thrilling this film was, at over two-and-a-half hours, this minimalist adventure action vehicle is too long, not necessarily outstaying its welcome, - seeing as how the final product is ultimately still rarely less than compelling - but still trying patience at time with repetitious, sometimes even kind of aimless dragging, particularly within, all of places, the slow-downs, of which there are only a few, but just enough for engagement value to go challenged. Certainly, this is a challenge that engagement value overcomes enough to craft a rewarding final product, but this is still such a typical '60s action thriller, with dated storytelling, conventionalism and excessive padding that could never drive the final product out of decency, but threaten the film with dreaded underwhelmingness. Needless to say, such a threat is not followed through on, because no matter how unsubtle, familiar and overlong this film is, it meets just about every shortcoming with one or two of many strengths, until the final product stands firmly secured as surprisingly rewarding, or at least entertaining, partially thanks to lively musical touches.

Now, at this formulaic time, if this film's story structure couldn't escape conventionalism, then it's musical tastes didn't stand a chance, and sure enough, the great, now-late Dimitri Tiomkin turns in a formulaic score, yet one that still proves to be effective, with both an entertaining liveliness and thrilling kick that are surprisingly underused, but flavor up this film when they show up, which is what you can say about Oswald Morris' score, at least to a certain degree, because where Tiomkin's score is underused, the film is always with a somewhat dated, yet generally still-striking grit to coloring that reflects the final product's thrill value. The film's musical and visual kick compliment the film's grit, but the non-storytelling aspect that really breathes life into this thriller is, of course, the moments in which the narrative slows down to feature an action sequence that may not be as thrilling as it used to be, but still thrills quite a bit, with grand staging and a tense atmosphere that make this film effective as an action piece. Sure, even then, action sequences are spread out in this two-and-a-half-hour shebang, but the fact of the matter is that when this film explores its technical and action value, it delivers on thrills to replenish entertainment value, maybe even your investment, which is more secured by this film's, as the trailer put it, "exciting" cast. Sure, some performances have dated a bit, and it's not like the acting was ever close to great, because there's not exactly a wealth of dramatic material in a film like this, but this is still a cast filled with classic charismas, and they all deliver on distinct charm, bonded through electric chemistry that earns your investment in the leads as a team, unstable and endangered. The handling of our leads' more personal conflicts is particularly unsubtle and manufactures, but the genuineness within our performers' individual performances and well-established chemistry do a lot to drive the dramatic intrigue that helps nudge the final product from decency into all-out goodness, further reinforced by a certain inspired performance off of the screen. Director J. Lee Thompson could only do so much to obscure the issues within producer and writer Carl Foreman's often formulaic, barely subtle and hardly airtight script, but what he does do in the selling of this story is almost more than this screenplay deserves, establishing an atmosphere that is generally rather meditative upon the environment and depths of substance in order to keep tensions high and resonance never too far away, thus breathing life into compellingness that carries the final product as rewarding. If nothing else, Thompson pumps this film with plenty of entertainment value, no matter how quiet or overdrawn it gets to be, reflecting his inspiration with a liveliness that creates a certain adequate fun factor, broken up by areas of effectiveness in tension or resonance that help in making the final product a rewarding, if kind of familiar, classic piece of Hollywood action.

Overall, dated storytelling aspects create unsubtle and manufactured conflicts, backed by somewhat superficially developed characters, while conventions create a predictability that slows down momentum, though not as much as the padding that leaves you to meditate upon this film's other shortcomings, almost to the point of driving the final product into the underwhelmingness that is ultimately kept at by the decent score work and cinematography, thrilling action, charismatic performances - bonded through sharp chemistry - and consistently, often resonantly intriguing directorial storytelling that make "The Guns of Navarone" an entertaining action-adventure film that fights through its shortcomings enough to grip through and through.

3/5 - Good
Super Reviewer
December 18, 2011
An excellent early epic World War II film, which features great chemistry from a very talented cast, headlined by Gregory Peck. This is the sort of action film that actually tries to engage the audience in the planning and preparation phase, and does so effectively, giving weight to the actions and consequences of all those involved. It was also ahead of its' time in treating war with a sort of complexity not seen until later films. Overall, a very enjoyable and influential war film.
Super Reviewer
½ September 8, 2011
What a great and wonderful WWII film with an all-star cast of brilliant actors and a very well done script that makes the film's 2 and a half hours fly by! The writing is impeccable and intelligent and there is rarely a dull moment in the film, but character development isn't put on the backburner by any means, as the characters all have their moments within the film. What an action film it is and it really provides on all fronts and is still an exciting and fun watch over 50 years later!
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2010
One of the best WWII action-adventures, with an all-star cast headed by Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, and David Niven. A very cool film!
Super Reviewer
November 18, 2010
I've grown up always hearing about this film, and how impeccably masculine it was. So, aside from the two female characters, it really is one of the iconic pictures to ever put a stamp on the "recruited men on a mission" sub-genre of war films. It appealed to me immensely how effective the opening narration was(seems like "Fargo"), making us believe, with that voice tailor-made for telling tall tales, how perilous the "Navarone" mission was, only then finding out that its all a work of fiction courtesy of adventure novelist Alistair Maclean. Though its quite hard to view Gregory Peck as a British, he, along with his personality, physical features and his pure cinematic presence, ably passed as a believable leader of the bunch. As for the others, headed by Anthony Quinn and David Niven, they have created great chemistry among contradicting characters, an ingredient very much common for the sub-genre nowadays but was initially sparked by the influential Kurosawa classic "Seven Samurai". There were some sequences that contained unsure, half-cooked editing, but with this film heading for an ending as anticipating and explosive(though not as morally puzzling) as the one in "The Bridge on the River Kwai", these slight blunders were easily eclipsed by its more exciting moments. "The Guns of Navarone" is one of those blockbuster war films that has carried its sense of high adventure and action consistently, while maintaining its grasp on 'morality' and a pacifist message that tells about how war can put it into 'ruins', like how their mission will wreak destruction on the eponymous weapon, and a parallel to the ancient remnants of its Greek backdrop.
Super Reviewer
July 9, 2007
Superb lineup and a great film.
March 4, 2014
My biggest problem with this film is I have such a hard time understanding the story. Also Gregory Peck plays a british military officer, and does not even attempt an accent. I have watched the movie twice and only understand the plot because I read it on IMDb, i guess this just isn't my kind of flick.
½ June 10, 2012
The film makes the most of typical conventions of the "men on a mission" story, adding appropriately epic scope and energy for good measure. It really is a beautifully-made film.
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