We have been very busy the last few days and I have fallen a bit behind on our Robert Shaw Festival posting. We actually watched this on Sunday. I had a copy for years on VHS, but you know where that has gone, so when I was out a couple of weeks ago, I decided to spring for a new Blu-ray of the film. It looks very solid and except for the lack of extras was a pretty good value.
Force 10 From Navarone is supposed to be a sequel to the Guns of Navarone which was made 17 years earlier. there is a brief two minute intro that summarizes the goal of the commando unit in taking out the guns and then puts two of our actors into the scenario. I could not remember if their characters had the same names as Gregory Peck and David Niven, but I think that was the inference. This time the commando squad has been turned into an assassination team, on its way to eliminate a traitor that has ruined several operations in the Yugoslavian Theater of war WWII. Events bring this team together with an American sabotage mission headed by Harrison Ford’s character.
The plot is not in any hurry to get to the action. There is an espionage element and some culture clash along the way. We get double and triple crosses as the team penetrates into areas controlled by the Nazis but also fought over by partisans fighting a guerrilla war in the Slavic areas. This was a very old fashioned war story even for 1978 standards. I know I took Dolores to see it in 1978 because we were big Star Wars fans and it had Ford in his first starring role after the space epic. Robert Shaw must have also been a favorite because I saw almost all of his films, but I don’t remember that he was the star that brought me into those movies.
Shaw is the lead in the film, but his part is so standard that he could do it in his sleep, and he doesn’t get much chance to shine here. There are some good sardonic asides and a couple of brief action bits, but nothing that was very memorable. I watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last night and I thought Shaw would have been terrific as “Mad Eye” Moody. So there was not a lot to add to his legacy from this movie. It is enjoyable but it tends to meander. Shaw’s best lines are the last lines in the film and they do try to remind us that heroics are not always about getting the job done, there is a lot more that has to come afterwards as well. Check out the poster below and see how the marketing tries to take advantage of a lot of other films that are more memorable. There are so many Bond veterans here that Cubby Broccoli should have gotten a piece of the action.