Early this morning a friend sent along his “top ten films of the 1960s” list, and it’s certainly a decent roster for the most part. Okay, better than decent. But he put The Guns of Navarone (’61) in his third-place slot, and that, I replied, is a definite no-go.

The first 45-50 minutes of J. Lee Thompson‘s WWII adventure thriller are terrific (the main title sequence + Dimitri Tiomkin’s score are bull’s-eye), but after the commandos reach the top of the cliff the film becomes rote and lazy and even silly.

How many Germans do they kill? Four or five hundred?

Two scenes are top-notch during the second half — (a) the S.S./gestapo interrogation scene with Anthony Quinn moaning and rolling around all over the floor and (b) the killing of Gia Scala for treachery. But the believability factor is out the window.

The more I watch this film, the more I’ve resented Anthony Quayle‘s “Roy” and his idiotic broken leg. Mission-wise Roy is a total stopper — an albatross around everyone’s neck. I don’t agree with Quinn’s assessment — “One bullet now…better for him, better for us” — but I almost do.

And the older I’ve gotten the more I’ve become sick of David Niven‘s demolition expert, who’s mainly an effete selfish weenie and a huge pain in the ass. Gregory Peck: “And what about the men on Keros?” Niven: “I don’t know the men on Keros but I do know Roy!” God, what an asshole!

Gentle Exhale,” posted on 5.22.20:

Among WWII action films of the ’50s and ’60s, Dimitri Tiomkin‘s theme for The Guns of Navarone (’61) is one of the great rousing anthems. But there’s a specific version that accompanies the main-title sequence that’s different from any other (and there are several hokey versions on YouTube). The main difference comes with the very ending of the suite, in which four notes from the primary theme — c-d-e-c — descend in volume and settle into slumber. Budda-BAH-duh, budda-BAH-duh, budda-BAH-duh…

(Apologies for the lopsided iPhone capture.)