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Force 10 from Navarone is a 1978 British war film loosely based on Alistair MacLean's 1968 novel of the same name. It is a sequel to the 1961 film, The Guns of Navarone. The parts of Mallory and Miller are played by Robert Shaw (who died before the film was released) and Edward Fox, succeeding the roles originally portrayed by Gregory Peck and David Niven. It was directed by Guy Hamilton and also stars Harrison Ford, Carl Weathers, Barbara Bach, Franco Nero, and Richard Kiel.
In 1943, after their successful mission on the Greek island of Navarone, Major Keith Mallory (Robert Shaw) and Sergeant John Miller (Edward Fox) are sent to find and kill Nicolai. Originally thought to be a traitor who informed the Germans about Miller and Mallory during the Navarone mission, Nicolai is now known to be Colonel von Ingorslebon, a dedicated German spy believed to have infiltrated the Yugoslav Partisans as "Captain Lescovar" (Franco Nero).
To get to Yugoslavia, the two men pair with "Force 10", an American sabotage unit, led by Colonel Mike Barnsby (Harrison Ford), which has its own mission there. To maximise security, Force 10 steals a Lancaster bomber from a British air base in Termoli, Italy, rather than requisitioning one; but they are spotted by Military Police MPs before they can take off. Weaver (Carl Weathers), a US Army sergeant under arrest by the MPs, joins with Force 10 and forces his way onto the plane. Barnsby and crew successfully "escape" Termoli, only to be shot down by Luftwaffe night fighters. Only Barnsby, Mallory, Miller, Weaver, and Force 10 member Doug Reynolds (Angus MacInnes) manage to escape the crippled plane.
On the ground, the survivors run across a group they believe to be their allies, Communist Yugoslav Partisans, led by Captain Drazak (Richard Kiel). Force 10's rescuers are soon revealed to be collaborationist Chetniks (nationalist Serb guerrillas) under German control. The Germans take the team into custody but do not know their mission, so Mallory and Barnsby tell the commander, Major Schroeder (Michael Byrne), that they are criminals fleeing Allied authorities. To keep Schroeder from opening Miller's suitcase, which contains his special explosives, Mallory tells him that it contains a new wonder drug called "penicillin" which will spoil if exposed to air. By the next morning, the prisoners are told that Schroeder has opened the case, finding it full of firewood. Surprised, Mallory and Barnsby improvise an excuse, "admitting" they buried the samples. Schroeder sends them to retrieve them, under the guard of his concubine Maritza (Barbara Bach) and three of his soldiers. Miller, Weaver, and Reynolds are left in a cell in camp.
Far from camp, Maritza kills the Germans, revealing herself to be a partisan spy who hid the explosives before Schroeder opened the case. She directs Mallory and Barnsby towards the partisan camp under the command of her father, Major Petrovich (Alan Badel). Mallory and Barnsby escape, ambushing and killing two of Drazak's Chetniks, who are bandaged to hide burns from flamethrowers. Eventually, the two meet a patrol of real Yugoslav Partisans led by a man Mallory recognises as his target – Captain Lescovar alias Nicolai. While Mallory assumes that Lescovar has recognised him, too, he and Barnsby are nevertheless taken to the partisan camp, which lies near a wide river and a large hydroelectric dam.
Skeptical, Major Petrovich dismisses Mallory's story about Lescovar being Nicolai, assuring Mallory they executed the real Nicolai months earlier. He also reproves the men for killing the bandaged Chetniks, who were partisan infiltrators and his only link to his daughter Maritza. Petrovich's principal worry is an impending assault by the Wehrmacht: The Germans are marshaling their forces nearby, and only a ravine separates as many as three German divisions from the outnumbered partisans. Only a single concrete arch bridge links each side of the ravine, but the partisans have been unable to destroy it. Barnsby reveals that the bridge is, in fact, Force 10's target. Knowing Miller's expertise in demolitions, Mallory convinces a reluctant Petrovich to help mount a rescue mission, using Lescovar and the Partisan Marko (Petar Buntic).
The four re-enter the camp at night, with Mallory and Barnsby posing as captives, and Lescovar and Marko disguised as the bandaged men. Before they complete their mission, Drazak arrives with the bodies of the two real bandaged men. Since Maritza had always been seen with them, and realizing that she must have helped Miller and Mallory escape, Drazak attacks and beats her. Meanwhile, a gun battle breaks out in the cell block. Major Schroeder and Reynolds are killed; but Mallory, Barnsby, Miller, Weaver, Lescovar and Marko escape in a truck with a badly beaten Maritza and the recovered explosives.
Having made it to the Partisans, explosives expert Miller reveals that the bridge really is impregnable. Mallory hits upon the idea of destroying the upstream dam they saw earlier, with the sudden onrush of several millions of gallons of water being enough to destroy the bridge. A night-time air drop is arranged to replace Force 10's lost supplies, but Lescovar sabotages the drop by calling in German planes. Maritza spots Lescovar betraying the partisans, but he kills her before she can warn the others, and German planes bomb the illuminated drop zone.
Petrovich, angered by the botched air drop, orders the men to be sent to Marshal Josip Broz Tito's headquarters for transport back to Italy. The team decides to infiltrate the German marshaling yards at Mostar to steal explosives, with Lescovar and Marko volunteering to accompany them. Lescovar again betrays them, alerting a German sergeant to their presence, identifying himself as an Abwehr officer. Marko overhears the plan and sacrifices himself to save the others, who escape with Lescovar aboard a train leaving for Sarajevo. Lescovar tries to make up a hasty cover story, but cannot fool Mallory or Barnsby, and finally is forced to admit that he really is Nicolai. Barnsby kills him, and asks Mallory to return the favour by helping him accomplish Force 10's mission.
Jumping the train near the dam, the team splits up: Miller and Weaver set off diversionary explosives while Mallory and Barnsby sneak into the dam. Weaver runs into Captain Drazak in the woods and kills him in a knife fight. Mallory and Barnsby set their charges within the dam but realise that they are out of time. With the German assault only minutes away, they are forced to set a short fuse, leaving them no time to escape. Mallory and Barnsby are caught in the explosion, yet nevertheless survive. At first, the dam appears undamaged; but with its fragile structural integrity disrupted, the dam wall collapses, releasing millions of tons of water in a wave that topples the bridge. The German assault is thwarted, saving Petrovich and the Partisans.
Mallory and Barnsby rejoin Miller and an injured Weaver, but the jubilation is short-lived. Mallory reminds the men that they are now trapped on the wrong side of the river, with no supplies and no way of contacting or reaching the partisans. As the credits roll, the men begin a strenuous journey back to friendly lines.
- Robert Shaw as Maj. Keith Mallory
- Harrison Ford as Col. Mike Barnsby
- Edward Fox as Sgt. John Miller
- Barbara Bach as Maritza Petrović
- Franco Nero as Capt. Lescovar/Col. von Ingorslebon
- Carl Weathers as Sgt. Weaver
- Richard Kiel as Capt. Dražak
- Alan Badel as Maj. Petrović
- Michael Byrne as Maj. Schroeder
- Philip Latham as Commander Jensen
- Angus MacInnes as Lt. Doug Reynolds
- Michael Sheard as Sgt. Bauer
- Petar Buntic as Marko
- Wolf Kahler as German soldier
Release and reception
After being screened at Camp David as the Thanksgiving movie for US President Jimmy Carter, the movie was released theatrically in the United States on 8 December 1978 to mixed reviews (according to production notes that accompanied the 2000 DVD release). Review aggregations website Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 64% based on 11 reviews.
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.
Cinematographer Christopher Challis recalled that the film was originally considered to be filmed in Pakistan until someone realised that Pakistanis did not resemble Yugoslavians or Germans and the expense to make them appear as such on film would be financially prohibitive.
Second World War background
The bridge over the Tara River, which is the target of the commando operation in the film, was destroyed by partisans in 1942 with the original engineer that built the bridge (Lazar Jauković) involved in the operation to destroy it.
Composer Ron Goodwin scored the film to the 126-minute version during the summer of 1978. Before the film was released it was shortened to 118 minutes. Additional music cues were created by recycling music from other parts of the film—typically reusing suspense passages in scenes for which they were not written. The CD release of the soundtrack by Film Score Monthly chronicles these changes, and presents the score as Goodwin wrote and recorded it for the 126-minute version.
Shepperton Studios outside London were used for most indoor scenes and included a full-scale mock-up of a Lancaster bomber, while scenes were shot around the Đurđevića Tara Bridge and Jablanica Dam on Jablaničko Lake in Jablanica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro with the assistance of Jadran Film. Scale models of the dam, the valley and the bridge were constructed at the Mediterranean Film Studios in Malta. Some scenes were also shot in the Royal Naval Dockyard (South Yard) in Devonport, Plymouth (during a shot of the railway carriages the letters PSTO(N) can be seen, this stands for Principal Supply and Transport Officer (Navy) and on Jersey.
A number of actors in this movie had already occupied roles in the James Bond 007 franchise or would go on to appear in the series. In addition to Shaw (from From Russia with Love), was 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 non-EON 007 movie Never Say Never Again). Bach's co-star from The Spy Who Loved Me, Richard Kiel, also appears. Kiel was riding high as a cultural icon after playing the famous 007 henchman, Jaws. Bach and Kiel's co-star from The Spy Who Loved Me, Caroline Munro, had originally been offered the role of Maritza.
Although three producers of the film are deceased (Carl Foreman, Sidney Cohn, and Oliver Unger), their estates and surviving producer Peter Gettinger sued Sony Pictures (as Columbia Pictures' successor) for unpaid sums from distribution rights. Following a May 2008 trial in the N.Y. Supreme Court, a judgement awarded the producers more than 30 years of funds withheld by Columbia Pictures. Sony appealed the decision, but on 1 September 2009, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, New York, upheld it.
- George MacDonald Fraser, The Light's on at Signpost, HarperCollins 2002 p130-141
- BBFC: Force 10 From Navarone Retrieved 31 December 2012
- BFI: Force 10 From Navarone Retrieved 31 December 2012
- p. 158 Challis, Christopher Are They Really So Awful?: A Cameraman's Chronicles Janus Publishing Company Lim, 1995
- Đurđevića Tara Bridge
- Justia US Law: Navarone Prods., N.V. v HSBC Gibbs Gulf Ins. Consultants Ltd, case 600707/04, Supreme Court of New York County, 29 December 2008 Retrieved 31 December 2012
- FindLaw: Navarone Productions v. HSBC Gibbs Gulf Insurance Consultants Limited, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York, 1 September 2009 Retrieved 31 December 2012
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- Movie review at AlistairMacLean.com