Force 10 from Navarone (film)

Infobox Film
name = Force 10 From Navarone


caption = film poster by Brian Bysouth
imdb_id = 0077572
writer = Robin Chapman
George MacDonald Fraser (uncredited)
starring = Robert Shaw
Edward Fox
Harrison Ford
Barbara Bach
director = Guy Hamilton
producer = Oliver A. Unger
distributor = - USA -
American International Pictures
- non-USA -
Columbia Pictures
released = December 81978
runtime = 118 min. (theatrical release)
126 min. (restored version)
music = Ron Goodwin
cinematography = Christopher Challis
preceded_by = "The Guns of Navarone" (1961)
followed_by =
awards =
language = English
budget = $10,000,000

"Force 10 from Navarone" is a 1978 war film very loosely based on upon Alistair MacLean's 1968 novel "Force 10 From Navarone".

The film is also a sequel to the award-winning 1961 film "The Guns of Navarone", but this time the parts of Mallory and Miller are played by Robert Shaw and Edward Fox. It was directed by Guy Hamilton and also stars Harrison Ford, Carl Weathers, Barbara Bach, Franco Nero, and Richard "Jaws" Kiel.

Shaw's portrayal of Mallory differs from both MacLean's literary character and Gregory Peck's portrayal in "Guns", being a slightly older, more thoughtful strategist rather than the almost superhuman man of action which commonly characterized MacLean's protagonists.

Plot

Some time after the successful Navarone mission, Mallory (Robert Shaw) and Miller (Edward Fox) are summoned by Cmdr.Jensen (Philip Latham) and charged with identifying and killing a spy known as "Nicolai", who appeared briefly in "The Guns of Navarone". (In the film "The Guns of Navarone", Nicolai was the identity of the laundry boy who was suspected to be listening in on private conversations and almost killed for it). "Nicolai" is now thought to be disguised among the Yugoslav Partisans, under the guise of a Capt. Lescovar (Franco Nero).

To get to Yugoslavia the two men are paired up with "Force 10", a sabotage unit led by Lt. Colonel Barnsby (Harrison Ford), whose target is a key bridge in Bosnia. Barnsby considers having the two older men forced upon him as an unnecessary added risk to an already dangerous mission. In order to ensure absolute secrecy, they are ordered to steal an Allied plane from an airfield in Termoli so that no information about their flight to Yugoslavia can be leaked out. However, while breaching the perimeter fence they are discovered by US M.P.'s who are escorting Sgt. Weaver (Carl Weathers) to captivity. A brawl ensues which ends with the M.P.'s overpowered and Weaver forcing his way onto the plane. After crossing the Yugoslavian coast, the plane is attacked by German night fighters, at which point most of Barnsby's team are killed, and the survivors have to bail out of the stricken aircraft.

Once on the ground the remainder of the team attempts to link up with the communist Yugoslav Partisans (who were part of the Allied forces) and believe they have run across a group of such led by a Capt.Drazak (Richard Kiel). However, once at their camp they soon discover that these are not Partisans but a group of collaborationist Chetniks (nationalist Serb guerillas). Finding themselves in German hands, they attempt to convince the commander, Maj.Schroeder (Michael Byrne), that they are black marketeers who have escaped from Allied captivity with a valuable stash of a new wonder drug called Penicillin, which Miller is carrying in his suitcase and refuses to open lest it become contaminated (the case actually contains Miller's high explosive equipment). Schroeder does not initially believe them, but after receiving intelligence confirmation of the aircraft theft, he begins to wonder if there may be some truth in their story, seeing an opportunity to get rich by seizing the Penicillin for himself.

The following morning, after having opened the case himself only to find it contains nothing more than firewood, Schroeder quizzes Mallory and Barnsby, who claim that they buried the stash prior to being picked up by Drazak. While still sceptical of their story, Schroeder decides to send the pair to retrieve the Penicillin under the guard of his female concubine Maritza (Barbara Bach), and three of his soldiers. Miller, Weaver and Reynolds (Angus MacInnes) meanwhile are left to languish in the cell block within the camp.

Once they are some distance from the camp, Maritza shoots the Germans, revealing herself to be a Partisan spy and the person responsible for hiding Miller's explosives before Schroeder had a chance to open the suitcase. She gives them directions towards the Partisans under the command of Maj.Petrovich (Alan Badel), getting the men to leave her bruised to enable her to return to Schroeder with a story of how they overpowered her and the guards. Mallory and Barnsby duly take off, ambushing and killing two of Drazak's heavily bandaged Chetniks who have been following them, eventually meeting up with a patrol of genuine Yugoslav Partisans. Mallory immediately recognizes the leader of the group, Capt.Lescovar, as Nicolai, informing Barnsby for the first time of his and Miller's purpose for being sent with Force 10. While Mallory assumes that Lescovar has recognized him, they are nevertheless taken to Maj.Petrovich, who dismisses Mallory's story about Capt.Lescovar being the spy Nicolai as misinformation on London's behalf.

Force 10's mission of destroying a nearby bridge that the Germans are preparing to cross with heavy armour seems impossible, in light of all the equipment being lost on the plane, until Mallory suggests they merely require Miller's demolitions expertise, along with his case of explosives. Petrovich reluctantly agrees to let Mallory and Barnsby take two men, Capt.Lescovar and Marko (Petar Buntic) disguised as the bandaged men (who it transpires were also Partisan spies), to try and spring Miller from the Chetnik camp.

The four men manage to re-enter the camp at night, Mallory and Barnsby posing as the captives of the bandaged men. However, as the rescue is underway Drazak arrives with the bodies of the bandaged men, and attempts to beat the truth from Maritza until he's alerted to the four men's presence in the camp. A short gun battle breaks out in the cell block, killing Schroeder and Reynolds in the process, and in the ensuing confusion Mallory, Barnsby, Miller, Weaver, Lescovar, and Marko manage to escape in a truck, retrieving the explosives and rescuing the badly beaten Maritza on the way.

Safely back at Petrovich's HQ, Miller is able to study the huge bridge which straddles the ravine and the river below. To Barnsby's dismay he declares that the bridge will be indestructible by explosives, but spirits are lifted when Mallory mentions a huge dam situated a couple of miles up river, which Miller is confident that, if breached, would destroy the bridge due the immense force of water impacting its foundations. A night time air drop is arranged to replace Force 10's lost supplies, which Lescovar sabotages by calling in German planes to bomb the illuminated landing zone, killing Maritza when she discovers him, her death explained as one of the many casualties of the bombing.

This is the last straw for Petrovich (Maritza was his daughter), and he decides to send the men to Marshall Tito's headquarters where transport back to Italy can be arranged. However, the team decide with Lescovar's help to go instead to the German marshalling yards at Mostar, where they can obtain the supplies they require to breach the dam. After ambushing some Germans and taking their uniforms and a truck, they successfully get into the supply area under cover of darkness and obtain the required explosives. Lescovar once again betrays them, waiting until the group are inside a carriage on a freight train before telling a sergeant to assemble a platoon to capture them. Marko, who is still outside, overhears the plan and raises the alarm by gunning down the platoon outside the train, at the cost of his own life. Lescovar quickly boards the now departing train, claiming that Marko gave them away. Despite this hastily constructed cover story, Mallory and Barnsby demand to know why the German sergeant Lescovar had spoken to had saluted him, despite the partisan being disguised in the uniform of a lower ranked corporal. Unable to excuse the sergeant's mistake, and with his true identity now revealed, Lescovar is shot by Barnsby.

The train is passing within a mile of the dam, so the team, now down to just Mallory, Miller, Barnsby and Weaver, jump off and head through the forest towards it. When they arrive it's lit up with large arclights, so Miller and Weaver set off some diversionary explosives to enable Mallory and Barnsby to sneak in. While doing so, Weaver runs into Drazak in the woods and, though receiving a wounded shoulder, kills him in a knife fight.

Once inside the dam the two men head deep down into the tunnels which run through it. At the centre of one tunnel they set the charges, only to realise that they are out of time (the German armour is set to cross the bridge at dawn). Setting the charges on a short fuse, they walk away slowly, shaking hands and awaiting their end, only for the explosions to be small, merely covering them in dust. Thinking Miller has failed, they decide to get out of the dam - but then they start to run as cracks open up in the tunnels and water starts spilling in. Miller and Weaver watch from the hillside as the dam wall starts to crack and collapse, millions of tons of water cascading from it. At the bridge, the Germans are starting to cross with their armour when the gigantic wall of water appears, thundering down the ravine. They abandon their vehicles as the water collides with the bridge, causing it to bend, sway, buckle then eventually collapse into the raging torrent. The partisans watch all this in jubilation.

As Mallory and Barnsby rejoin Miller and Weaver on the hillside, the team's own jubilation is short lived as Mallory reminds them that they're now on the wrong side of the river, unable to rejoin the Partisans, and that the area will soon be crawling with very bad tempered Germans. Added to all that, Miller hasn't so much as a box of matches left. As the credits start to roll, the men wearily begin their very long walk home.

Cast

*Robert Shaw as Maj. Keith Mallory
*Harrison Ford as Lieutenant Colonel Mike Barnsby
*Barbara Bach as Maritza Petrovich
*Edward Fox (actor) as SSgt. Dusty Miller
*Franco Nero as Capt. Nikolai Lescovar
*Carl Weathers as Sgt. Weaver
*Richard Kiel as Capt. Drazak
*Alan Badel as Maj. Petrovich
*Michael Byrne as Maj. Schroeder
*Philip Latham as Cmdr. Jensen
*Angus MacInnes as 1st Lt. Doug Reynolds
*Michael Sheard as Sgt. Bauer
*Petar Buntic as Marko

Controversial aspects of the film

One controversial aspect of the film—and, for that matter, Alastair MacLean's novel (and a later novel of his called "Partisans")—is its portrayal of Serbian Chetniks as German allies in Bosnia. While there were forces of Chetniks which were allied to the German occupation forces most Chetniks fought against the German occupiers and were aligned with the overthrown monarchy of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, opposing the fascist Independent State of Croatia, which committed genocide against Serbs. Many Chetniks who did ally with the Germans were extremists who associated with the fascist ZBOR party in Serbia and supporters of the Serbian civil administration of Milan Nedic in the Military Administration in Serbia who allied with Hitler and was later overthrown in a coup carried out by the British. Other Chetniks who initially allied with the Americans and British later switched sides and helped the Germans in Yugoslavia in hopes of destroying the Yugoslav Partisans (made up of Croats, Bosnians and Serbs) after the Americans and British withdrew support from the Chetniks, seeing them as unreliable allies.

Critical history

This film was not initially a theatrical success, neither critically nor at the box-office. The production notes on the Region 1 DVD state that the budget was $10 million, while the film only grossed $7.2 million on its US theatrical run. The plot differed from the novel in many respects, besides the name and the team's objective of blowing up a bridge. At year end 2006 the film has grossed in excess of $25,000,000.

Film Facts

; James Bond connection : This film contains several actors that have appeared throughout the James Bond film series. These include the following actors/actress:
*Robert Shaw (Red Grant, "From Russia With Love")
*Barbara Bach (Anya Amasova, "The Spy Who Loved Me")
*Richard Kiel (Jaws, "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Moonraker")
*Michael Byrne (Admiral Kelly - HMS Bedford, "Tomorrow Never Dies")
*Edward Fox (M, "Never Say Never Again").

While Harrison Ford, Carl Weathers, and Philip Latham never appeared in Bond films, they all starred alongside actors that played characters in Bond films. Ford played Indiana Jones opposite supporting actor Sean Connery (James Bond) in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" while Carl Weathers starred briefly alongside Dolph Lundgren (KGB Agent Venz) in "Rocky IV". Philip Latham made two guest appearances in "The Avengers" opposite Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore) and Diana Rigg (Teresa Draco-Bond).

Additionally, four of the actors in this film (Harrison Ford, Michael Byrne, Wolf Kahler and Michael Sheard) would later have roles in the Indiana Jones franchise of films. It should also be noted that Carl Weathers and Richard Kiel would both go on to act in the Adam Sandler comedy film "Happy Gilmore".

This was the last film completed by Robert Shaw. He died suddenly during the filming of "Avalanche Express" in Tourmakeady, County Mayo, Ireland several months later on August 28, 1978 at the age of 51.

This was Harrison Ford's first major starring role after the runaway success of "Star Wars". He later admitted that he had accepted the role for the money and the billing, and was unhappy during the filming that promised script revisions never materialised. However, he did express great appreciation at the opportunity of working with Robert Shaw.

According to his book "The Light's on at Signpost", George MacDonald Fraser claims that he wrote the screenplay to the film.

The finale cost $1 million to film. Scale models of the dam, the valley and the bridge were constructed at the Mediterranean Film Studios in Malta, which as of 2007 still houses the largest outdoor water tanks in Europe.

Composer Ron Goodwin scored the film to the 126 min. version during the summer of 1978. However, before the film was released it was altered and shortened to 118 mins. by American International Pictures, who held the US distribution rights. The opening narration by Patrick Allen was replaced by an American voice with totally different dialogue, some scenes were deleted or shortened, and the film was littered with jarring dubbed dialogue (usually when the character is off camera, or has his back to us). Robert Shaw had died before these alterations were made, and a voice impersonator was used. Consequently, his character's dubbed lines stand out particularly badly.

Along with all these other changes, an additional number of music cues were created by recycling Ron Goodwin's music from other parts of the film - typically reusing suspense passages in scenes for which they were not written - leaving the score sounding rather incoherent. The recent CD release of the soundtrack by Film Score Monthly chronicles these changes, and presents the score as Ron Goodwin wrote and recorded it for the 126 min. version. The 118 min. cut was subsequently the version that was also released worldwide theatrically by Columbia Pictures, which had released the film to which "Force 10" is a sequel, "The Guns of Navarone". While Columbia held on to international rights, the U.S. rights would pass to Orion Pictures in 1982 after buying Filmways and American International Pictures. Orion was in turn sold to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1998. Ironically, MGM itself was sold to a consortium led by Columbia's current parent Sony in 2005, and so Columbia holds some ancillary rights in the U.S. today, including theatrical rights.

The producers of the film Carl Foreman, Sidney Cohn, and Oliver Unger are now deceased. The sole surviving producer, Peter Gettinger, has been in litigation with Columbia Pictures, and a subsidiary of HSBC, since 1996. Until May 2007, when the producers settled with the subsidiary, the producers had not received any proceeds from the distribution of the film. Columbia is still withholding a great deal of the proceeds pending litigation. A trial was held May 2007 in the N.Y. Supreme Court. Judge Cahn rendered a decision on May 29, 2008 stating that the producers were entitled to the funds withheld by Columbia Pictures: "parties entered into a scheme to defraud both Sony and Columbia into wrongfully paying them, and deprived the Navarone company of monies and payments due to them. As to the issue tried to the hearing - who is entitled to the monies held by Sony, and to future distribution - the answer is clear: its the plantiff - Navarone Productions, N.V." [Navarone Productions, N.V. vs HSBC Gibbs Gulf Insurance, Index Number 600707/2004, Supreme Ct. of NY, 29 May 2008]

As of August 25, 2008, Sony has not turned over the withheld monies. Although Force Ten From Navarone was rated PG, it contains female nudity and the decapitation of a German soldier

External links

* [http://imdb.com/title/tt0077572 IMDb Entry]


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