By FREDA BRUCE LOCKHART
THE GUNS OF NAVARONE Certificate "A" Director: .1. Lee 'Thompson NOT having read the Book of the Film. I was fairly and squarely taken in by the trappings of a dramatised documentary account of actual wartime cloakand-dagger operations in the Aegean theatre.
Acknowledgements of co-operation from the Admiralty, the War Office. the Greek Government and people, the Royal Hellenic armed forces. coupled with James Robertson Justice's more than usually solemn introductory recruitment of a team of saboteurs, compel belief in the last Allied garrison's situation on an island commanded by the two formidable German guns as at least a tactical truth.
J. Lee Thompson ("Ice Cold in Alex") is an efficient documentary-style director.
Once picked, the team is plunged into action. A storm at sea as wet and wild a commotion as any in "The Key", is followed rather too soon by a sequence of
cliff-hanging by the hero, Mallory
(Gregory Peck). as tense as an
early exploit of Elaine.
On the island this tension is maintained in the efforts of the sabotage team to escape the Germans long enough to spike the great guns and so free the last Allied garrison in the area. Scenery and colour are splendid. Stereophonic sound, though overpoweringly noisy, has more sense than I have yet heard. Even the nearly traditional tension of concealment during a local festivity is well kept up. while the interrogation by a German S.S. officer gains in horror and pity from the Allies' recognition that protection is even more necessary against modern truth drugs than against Nazi torture.
All this, or nearly all, is magnificent action adventure.
The characterisation has been criticized as one-dimensional. • But that does not detract 'from the illusion of actuality. If it is true that the band of saboteurs is made up of types rather than individuals, they may be true to type.
Gregory Peck is, admittedly a conventional hero, but what a competent one. Anthony Quayle invests the friend who got Mallory into it all with considerable qualities of sympathy and loyalty. Stanley Baker as the one handy with a knife seemed convincing except for improbable qualms.
Anthony Quinn's local Colonel is wholly credible as the kind of Greek—or Slav, or Latin—whose sense of private outrage makes him scornful of "Anglo-Saxon decency".
The partisan woman fighter may be a type, but Irene Papas makes her completely true to the type: stern, loyal and ruthless. ff she is beautiful too, that is a legitimate and welcome coincidence.
David Niven is the worst sufferer, as a chemist turned explosive expert. Not because the character is outside Niven's scope, but because he is made the mouthpiece for a lot of woolly opinions rather than ideas on fighting, This character was for me the one seriously unconvincing character in all the excitement.
If I have a general criticism of this movie, it is that it remains fundamentally a literary film — a film which follows a written plot or play, instead of a script which tries to find notation for what the film has to say, as a choreographer to record steps. However, the film's excitement scarcely flags in three hours (all but three minutes).
THE TAGORE Documentary Director: Satyajit Ray
THIS pious documentary to celebrate the centenary of India's great national poet is rather too typical a ceremonial piece. It is graceful, reverent and commemorative rather than instructive. But from a great original director it is surprisingly commonplace.
If "The Guns of Navarone" is filmed in literary style, Ray's tribute comes perilously near lantern-lecture style.