Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Great Lost 70s Movie?

The more I think about it, Force 10 From Navarone, which did not fare well at the Box Office, is a classic that remains undeservedly unsung.  It came out in 1978, and, one supposes, in the wake of Jaws, and Star Wars, looked a bit  old fashioned with its boy's own derring-do.  I last saw it the other night, as a birthday treat on DVD in an extended cut - before then, in the cinema, when I was 12.

It is has held up very well, and is in fact as entertaining as the film it is the far-fetched sequel of.  It is a genuine marvel of 70s casting, as each of its main actors (many my favourites) had recently been in one of the great, quintessential 70s films: Edward Fox was hot from The Day of the Jackal; Robert Shaw from Jaws; Harrison Ford from Star Wars; Carl Weathers, from Rocky; Barbara Bach from The Spy Who Loved Me, as was Richard Kiel.  Indeed, the Bond connection is hardly accidental - for the director was none other than Guy Hamilton, director of the best Bond pictures, including Goldfinger.

Nor was the screen story written by a nobody - but instead, by the great Carl Foreman, who had previously written The Guns of Navarone, High Noon, and The Bridge on The River Kwai (another film about destroying a bridge).  The score was by Ron Goodwin, who had earlier written the music for Whirlpool, Village of the Damned, The Day of the Triffids, and Where Eagles Dare, as well as Frenzy.  Classics all.  The cinematographer was Christopher Challis, an old hand, who had filmed the great war pic, Sink The Bismarck!  and Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes as well as A Shot In The Dark - again, major UK films. And, it was edited by Raymond Poulton, who had cut such diverse classics as Invitation to the Dance, and The Mouse That Roared.

The art director, Fred Carter, cut his teeth on seven episodes of the Avengers.  In short, the film is pure quality, from top to bottom.  The best boy probably sat on Hitch's knee at some stage.  So, why has this thrilling, clever romp become less than the holiday telly classic it deserves to be, somewhere amidst The Italian Job, The Man Who Would Be King, and The Great Escape?  No idea.  But watch it for a pure hit of 70s adrenaline.
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