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VINE VOICEon March 25, 2009
You really cannot go wrong with any movie that stars Robert Shaw, Harrison Ford, Barbara Bach 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.
The movie was previously released on DVD in 2000 in what was a simply horrible transfer with scratches and print dirt all over the place. Even so I would watch it 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.
The problems with that release have been mostly rectified for this Blu-ray release which is simply pristine in comparison. It's not the best Blu-ray release I have ever seen, with a large degree of softness and some grain but it does a good job recreating the film stock of the time and is certainly the best the movie has ever looked since its 1978 theatrical release. The Yugoslavian scenery in particular is breathtaking. I did not notice any of the problems that plagued the DVD release and, hey, who can argue with a Blu-ray that features the impossibly beautiful Bach in high definition :)
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.
The one negative towards this Blu-ray release is the lack of special features. All we get is a trailer for the movie whereas the original DVD release featured a sketch (hidden as an "easter egg"), a collectible booklet with trivia notes and two different cuts of the movie.
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 DVD and just over two years for Blu-ray) and before the original "Guns of Navarone," but as a fan of the movie I am happy to be able to watch "Force 10 From Navarone" in all its high definition goodness. Incidentally here's hoping that 1961's "Guns of Navarone" gets a Blu-ray release soon :)
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on April 4, 2000
I admit I have had a soft spot for this movie ever since I saw it during its theatrical run when I was 8 which is why I give it four stars instead of three. But I've always felt it is a fun action-adventure film with a great cast and fantastic vistas of the Yugoslavian countryside. Critics have lambasted it as being a highly inferior sequel to one of the classic war movies of the 60's, and maybe some of that criticism has some merit. Yet "Force 10 from Navarone" as viewed on its own merits without the comparisons to "Guns" is not too shabby. A straight-foward action story of an Allied force consisting of two British commandoes (Robert Shaw and Edward Fox), an American Ranger (Harrison Ford), and an escaped American prisoner (Carl Weathers) trying help Yugoslavian partisans blow-up a bridge to foil a German offensive. It's not Oscar material, but it is fun and definetly not as bad as the critics claimed.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 22, 2002
Taken for what it is, "Force 10 From Navarone"(1978) is a decent wartime action adventure. It is based on Alistair MacLean's sequel to his highly successful novel, "The Guns of Navarone" which was released a major film in 1961. The movie version though is a "sequel" in name only, and is connected to the original film by just a few plot threads. Recurrent characters bear no resemblance to their previous incarnations. This is understandable, as this movie plays to almost a whole new audience.
None of the principal actors associated with the original film, Gregory Peck (Major Mallory), David Niven (Corporal Miller) and Anthony Quinn, were capable of reprising their roles, some 17 years later. Robert Shaw, replaces Peck as "Mallory", and Edward Fox assumes the role of "Miller", the explosives expert. Their new mission is to locate a traitor named "Lescovar" (Franco Nero), who is operating in Yugoslavia as a member of the Partisans. The pair are attached to a special operations group code named "Force 10", commanded by Lt. Colonel Barnsby (Harrison Ford). The group has their own top secret mission, which begins in Italy by stealing a plane. Sgt. Weaver (Carl Weathers), unexpectedly joins the mission after forcing his way into the plane, and parachutes with Force 10 into Yugoslavia.
Upon landing, circumstances quickly reduce the group to just five men. Wandering the countryside, the group meet up with what they believe are Partisans. When they turn out to be Chetniks collaborating with the Germans, Mallory and the rest find themselves prisoners. Spinning a yarn about hijacked penicillin buys Mallory and Barnsby an opportunity for freedom, and with a little help, the two men are soon free, and able to make contact with the real Partisan group.
Capt. Lescovar occupies a position of trust among the Partisans, and can't be touched for the moment. Force 10's mission is revealed, as they were to have attempted to destroy a vital bridge, and thereby prevent a Nazi advance. Believing that with Miller's expertise the mission might still be accomplished, Barnsby and Mallory head back to the Chetnik camp to free him. After a bloody shootout, the group make a surprisingly easy escape, and Miller and Weaver rejoin their mates.
Realizing that destroying a nearby dam would release tons of water that would undermine the bridge's foundation and take it down, the group is in desperate need of some high explosives. Treachery abounds as the group attempts to get the supplies. An attempt to airdrop them has disastrous results, so the team decides to get what they need by raiding a German ammo dump. After another close call, they succeed in securing the explosives. Leaving the depot by train, they take time to clean up a loose end, before heading for the dam and their final mission. For this task, it does seem odd that the "expert" Miller, is not called on to place the explosive charges. The job instead is left for Barnsby and Mallory (bad leg and all). The slightly built Fox, who plays Miller as a cartoon character, is just not hero material.
Much is made in this film of the fact that Weaver is a black man. He is the brunt of jokes, and suffers racial slurs and other harassment from his own side as well as the enemy. The leader of the Chetniks, played by Richard Kiel (Jaws from the Bond films), makes a special point of harassing the Sergeant, and calling him "blackie". Was all this really necessary? Carl Weathers gives a dignified performance under the circumstances. He brings a much needed rugged physical presence, to a cast primarily consisting of older actors.

Director Guy Hamilton, a veteran of several Bond films, is a man accustomed to executing a script with loaded dialog. The story for the most part entertains (minus the racial aspects), and moves along at a steady pace. At first glance, the assembled cast may not appear to be the most cohesive group, but their overall performance is actually not bad. The scenes of Yugoslavia may have added interest in light of recent events there. Ron Goodwin's soundtrack is good, with a rousing main title theme, but the music is ever so reminiscent of the work he did on "Where Eagles Dare", another MacLean creation. The special effects scenes related to the dam and floodwaters bring to mind scenes from Earthquake, minus the motorcycle.
The DVD transfer is good but the poor quality of the original material shows through at times. You have a choice between the widescreen and full screen versions of the film. The sole extra, is a tattered example of the original trailer. The booklet provided with the disk is very informative, discussing the background surrounding the sequel and the efforts of producer Carl Foreman to get the story to the screen. While too much time had passed for it to be a true sequel, "Force 10" stands on its own merits as a solid wartime adventure worth at least one viewing.
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on October 22, 2004
I actually wanted to see this movie because I read that Barbara Bach was in it. When I saw the movie, I was blown away.
Not only by the great performance by Barbara Bach, but also by the entire movie.
It has great actors, great action and great music!
You see many familliar faces like Robert Shaw, Harrison Ford, Barbara Bach, Richard Kiel and Carl Weathers, who all act very good.
The action is tence and is great to watch.
If you like World War movies, but also if you just like a good action movie, then this is a must see.

A movie I will remember.
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on September 4, 2000
I can't believe this received such bad reviews from the critics! Of course, usually when the critics hate a movie, I love it. I must admit I love old movies, although this isn't an "old" movie to me - having been a 70's child. But I've also seen "The Guns of Navarone" and it's a wonderful movie in its own right. I love Gregory Peck - but I think the work that Harrison Ford, Carl Weathers, and Robert Shaw put into this film is first rate. Please don't deny yourself the chance to see this movie.
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on April 19, 2016
Not believable to me in the beginning that commandos and MP's would only fight hand-to-hand without the commandos using knives or other deadly means or the MP's not drawing their weapons--this set the tine for me in viewing later improbable scenes. Unfair that Robert Shaw and Edward Fox, good actors in their own right, were called on to replace the greater talent of Gregory Peck and David Niven as the same characters. Young Harrison Ford is interesting only in light of his larger future roles. This film did nothing much for his career. The sequel book wasn't as good as the preceding GUNS OF NAVARONE novel, and this sequel film falls even farther short of the prior epic action movie.
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on June 20, 2005
This sequel to "The Guns of Navarone" (1961) did not come out until 17 years later, though it had been in the planning stages not long after the former. By the time "Force 10 from Navarone" was going to be filmed, both Gregory Peck who played Mallory and David Niven who played Miller were considered too old to play their respective roles as they did on "The Guns of Navarone". The roles were then portrayed by Robert Shaw and Edward Fox. Sadly, Shaw did not live just before its release.

Also starring is Harrison Ford who played Lieutenant Colonel Barnsby in command of "Force 10" whose mission was to blow up a bridge in Yugoslavia to prevent the Germans from crossing at all costs. Mallory and Miller who would tag on with "Force 10" had a mission of their own - to kill a German double agent working among the Partisans who were fighting against the Germans. Barbara Bach stars as Maritza Petrovich who was assigned to infiltrate the Chetnik camp run by the ruthless Chetnik leader, Captain Drazak (Richard Kiel of Jaws fame on two of the James bond movies) allied with the Nazis under the command of Major Schroeder (Michael Byrne). Carl Weathers (best known as Apollo on the first two "Rocky" movies) stars as the fiery Sergeant Weaver who accidentally becomes part of the mission.

A good fictional World War II movie with a lot of good action, the effects were very good, especially the dam scene where it eventually breaks apart in slow motion, after Barnsby and Mallory set off the charges, causing catastrophe with several million tons of water rushing downstream and destroying the targeted bridge. This would be an ideal movie not to miss for any fan into World War II action.
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on May 20, 2015
This single disc action sequel to the Guns Of Navarone on Blu-Ray, arrived on time and intact, with no damage to either the disc or the case, which the disc came in. Picture, sound and features playback is superb. A good action based sequel, starring Robert Shaw, Harrison Ford and Edward Fox, is worth adding to the original 1961 classic of the Guns Of Navarone also on Blu-Ray, which starred Gegory Peck and David Niven. I would recommend this particular Blu-Ray movie to anyone who purchases it online from amazon.com.
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on August 18, 2014
Watchable but not very good World War II action movie. Robert Shaw is good as always but he seems tired for most of the film, nice scenery, a contrived hole ridden plot, Harrison Ford should have gotten an award the year this film came out for the most wooden performance, a funny scene of someone getting decapitated without spilling any blood and last but not least there's a brief shot of Barbara Bach without anything on between her neck and waist. The last is probably the best excuse not to give this film one star. That or to hear Ms. Bach tell somebody 'harder'.
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on April 6, 2000
I've always liked this film. When compared to its predecessor, Guns of Navarone, it falters a bit. However, it is a good action/war adventure that gets a bum rap because of its lineage.
Might have been better off had they not worked in the Navarone connection.
Good performances all around, and a fun, enjoyable 2 hours.
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