The Navarone cannons

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
German title The Navarone cannons
Original title The Guns of Navarone
Country of production United Kingdom , United States
original language English
Publishing year 1961
length 158 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director J. Lee Thompson
script Carl Foreman
production Carl Foreman,
Cecil F. Ford ,
Leon Becker
music Dimitri Tiomkin
camera Oswald Morris
cut Alan Osbiston

Successor  →
The Wild Pile of Navarone

The Guns of Navarone (original title: The Guns of Navarone ) is a British - American war film from 1961. The film set in World War II was made into a film by director J. Lee Thompson based on a novel by Alistair MacLean and a screenplay by Carl Foreman . An Allied secret command is supposed to blow up two gigantic cannons of the German Wehrmacht on the fictional Greek island of Navarone .


November 1943: On the fictional Aegean island of Navarone, the German Wehrmacht deployed two huge cannons to control a strategically important sea ​​passage . Since the passage is to be used by an Allied convoy of ships a week later in order to save 2,000 British soldiers from the island of Kheros, the guns must be put out of action. The attempt to destroy it by attacking a squadron of bombers fails miserably. So Commodore Jensen remains at the suggestion of Major "lucky guy" Roy Franklin as the last attempt to send a commando force.

The two put together an international team consisting of the New Zealand mountaineer Captain Keith Mallory, the British explosives expert Corporal John "Dusty" Miller, the Greek officer Andrea Stavros as well as the battle-hardened "Butcher Brown" and the Navarone-born Spyros Pappadimos. The plan envisages reaching the heavily guarded island of Navarone with an old fishing boat under the protection of the Turkish coast at night over the south cliff, which is considered unclimbable. Then, with the help of local resistance fighters, the squad is supposed to make their way to the fortress with the cannons, destroy them and then withdraw.

The commandos faced many difficulties from the start. First of all, Stavros pursues a vendetta against Mallory because he is indirectly responsible for the death of Stavros' family, although the common goal unites them for the time being. After the German opponents learned of the company early on through the arrogant behavior of Major Baker, the men had to sink a German patrol boat in a bloody battle . Then, on a rainy storm night, Mallory manages to climb the south cliff; However, Franklin crashes and suffers a complicated broken leg . The troops make their way over the snow-capped mountains to the ruins of St. Alexis, where they meet the two resistance fighters Maria, Spyros' sister, and Anna the teacher. With their help they get to Mandrakos, constantly pursued by German soldiers, to see a doctor for Franklin. However, they are betrayed and arrested by the Germans.

Stavros tries to deceive the Germans and pretends to be an innocent fisherman who was forcibly recruited for witnessing the attack on the patrol boat. However, First Lieutenant Meusel already has a dossier on him as a former Greek officer. Nevertheless, Stavros can distract the Germans to the point that his comrades regain the upper hand. They leave the terminally ill Franklin for treatment and flee. Later, however, Miller discovered that his explosives equipment had been sabotaged and that the explosives could only be detonated without the necessary delay. In a subsequent reconstruction of the past events, he exposes the teacher Anna as a spy for the Germans; this is then shot by Maria.

The squad splits up: Mallory and Miller are supposed to break into the fortress and try to destroy the cannons; the others want to create as much unrest as possible to distract the German guards. Thanks to Miller's talent for improvisation, the attachment and “controlled” detonation of explosive charges succeed. Half the mountain blows up and the Navarone cannons sink into the sea. The ships of the Allied rescue mission can call at Kheros unhindered.

Spyros loses his life in the skirmishes with the German soldiers. Maria and Brown procure a boat and Brown is killed. Mallory, Miller and Stavros can save themselves on the boat. Stavros then stays with Maria on Navarone, while Mallory and Miller cross over to an Allied warship and return home.


The Guns of Navarone was the second novel by former teacher Alistair MacLean and was published in 1957. Producer Carl Foreman bought the film rights and also wrote the script. William Holden , one of the biggest stars after the success of The Bridge on the Kwai , was slated for the lead role. Since Foreman did not want to pay the fee demanded by Holden (750,000 dollars plus 10% of the gross profit), he hired Gregory Peck.

First the British director Alexander Mackendrick should direct the film. Since producer Foreman did not agree with Mackendrick's time-consuming staging style, Mackendrick was fired after a few days and his compatriot J. Lee Thompson hired. Thompson was a veteran, but had never directed a film project of this magnitude. He quickly gained the trust of the actors and the producer and competently directed the complex filming.

Cyprus was initially envisaged as one of the filming locations , but because civil war was looming there, producer Carl Foreman moved to nearby Rhodes . The production costs exploded from the originally planned two million dollars by three times. a. because of the remote filming locations, elaborate buildings and the rents for a total of a dozen discarded warships including 1000 Greek soldiers who represented a Wehrmacht regiment. Incidentally, cameraman Oswald Morris allowed himself an unusually laborious shooting relationship: he recorded 67 hours of raw material, four times as much as was customary at the time for a comparable length of film.

The recordings lasted from March to October 1960, three months of which were worked in Rhodes, then in the London Shepperton Studios , where a huge water tank had to be built for a storm scene. On Rhodes, Anthony Quinn was given the idyllic Vagies Bay as a gift by the Greek government in the 1960s as a thank you for the tourism advertising associated with the success of his films in Greece. The decision was revoked years later. The name Anthony Quinn Bay , however, has remained in use to this day. Other locations were the island of Gozo near Malta and Tino in the Ligurian Sea. The former US warship USS Slater was at the time of filming under the name Aetos (D-01) a training ship of the Greek Navy. It has since served as a museum ship in Albany Harbor (New York) .


Because Gregory Peck, for his role as Capt. Mallory, who was supposed to speak “German like a German” and did not speak the language well enough, were partly dubbed the British-Italian actor Robert Rietty in the original English version. David Niven fell so seriously ill while filming in a pool of water that his continued participation was at risk. He suffered blood poisoning from an injury to his lip. It was therefore considered to re-shoot material that had already been shot with another actor in order not to endanger the entire production. However, after a few weeks Niven was released from the hospital and was able to finish his recordings. Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn were injured while recording in the studio on June 26, 1960 when they were hit by an overpowered artificial wave. Some members of the Greek royal family acted as extras as they were visiting filming on the day the scene was being filmed at Café Mandrakos. The map that shows the fictional Navarone in the film actually refers to the geographic location of Antikythera .


The German dubbing was created in 1961 in the studio of Ultra Film Synchron GmbH in Berlin .

role actor Voice actor
Captain Keith Mallory Gregory Peck Wolfgang Lukschy
Corporal Dusty Miller David Niven Holger Hagen
Colonel Andrea Stavros Anthony Quinn Gerhard Geisler
Private "butcher" Brown Stanley Baker Arnold Marquis
Major Roy Franklin Anthony Quayle Gert Günther Hoffmann
Private Spyros Pappadimos James Darren Michael Chevalier
Commodore Jensen James Robertson Justice Eduard Wandrey
Major Baker Allan Cuthbertson Gerd Martienzen
First Lieutenant Meusel Walter Gotell Heinz Petruo
commander Albert Lieven Siegmar Schneider
Narrator opening credits James Robertson Justice Ernst Wilhelm Borchert


The Guns of Navarone was nominated for an Oscar in seven categories in 1962 , but lost to the musical West Side Story (1961). However, the film received an Oscar for best special effects .

Oscar nominations
Oscar won

The film also received two Golden Globes in the categories of best film - drama and best film music for Dimitri Tiomkin . J. Lee Thompson was nominated for Best Director.

The film also received the Laurel Award for Best Drama.

The Navarone cannons became one of the biggest box office hits of the early 1960s and are considered a classic of its genre. The plot pattern "Secret Command Against Wehrmacht" was successfully varied in several films in the 60s and 70s, including The Dirty Dozen (1967), Agents die lonely (1968) based on an original screenplay by Alistair MacLean and Shock Troop Gold (1970).

1978 was with the wild pile of Navarone (also titled as "Force 10 - The Special Unit") a sequel produced. The plot corresponds to the book Secret Command Zenica by Alistair MacLean. The roles of Gregory Peck and David Niven were played by Robert Shaw and Edward Fox because the producers thought the actors were now too old . The wild bunch of Navarone could not build on the success of the previous film with critics and audiences.

Novelist Alistair MacLean made his breakthrough in Hollywood with the film adaptation of The Guns of Navarone . By 1981, 15 of his adventure and war novels had been filmed.


source rating
Rotten tomatoes

The film received mostly positive reviews, earning a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 22 reviews.

Lexicon of international film : Elaborate war game that does not shrink from any cinematic effect.


  • The Jamaican ska band The Skatalites landed one of their greatest hits with their musical interpretation of the theme music. The American power metal band Jag Panzer processed the content of the film in 2004 in the song "The Mission (1943)"
  • The cannons of Navarone is quoted in the feature film Pulp Fiction .
  • The naval base G8 in the anime One Piece is named Navarone


The German-language DVD of the film was released in November 2000 and contains, among other things, an audio commentary by the director and several film documentaries with newly produced interviews with the main actors Anthony Quinn and Gregory Peck (Quinn, Peck and director Thompson died shortly afterwards within two years).


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Robert Niemi: 100 Great War Movies: The Real History Behind the Films , p. 148
  2. [1]
  3. ^ Robert Niemi: 100 Great War Movies: The Real History Behind the Films , p. 148
  4. synchronization
  5. a b [2] at Rotten Tomatoes , accessed on February 5, 2015
  6. The cannons of Navarone in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  7. The cannons of Navarone at Rotten Tomatoes (English)
  8. The cannons of Navarone. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used