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Literature: The Guns of Navarone
aka: THEGUNSOFNAVARONE

First, you've got that bloody old fortress on top of that bloody cliff. Then you've got the bloody cliff overhang. You can't even see the bloody cave, let alone the bloody guns. And anyway, we haven't got a bloody bomb big enough to smash that bloody rock. And that's the bloody truth, sir.
- RAAF Squadron Leader Howard Barnsby

The Guns Of Navarone is a book by Alistair MacLean, published in 1957, and more famously a classic 1961 film adaptation. The events depicted take place during World War 2 but are entirely fictional. A contingent of British soldiers are stranded on an island in the Aegean Sea and rescue by ship is impossible due to the large battery of anti naval guns located at the cliffs of Navarone. Due to the embedded position of the guns in the cliffs, destroying them by air strikes proves impossible. A British major (Anthony Quayle) assembles a commando team and convinces a reluctant captain (Gregory Peck) to join. The movie chronicles the squad's attempt to sneak into Greece and blow the guns. Also stars David Niven and Anthony Quinn.

It won the Academy Award for Best Visual effects. It was also nominated for, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score (nominated but lost in same category for a Grammy as well), Best Sound, Best Writing Adapted Screenplay.

Alistair MacLean wrote a lesser-known sequel novel, "Force 10 from Navarone", published in 1968. A film version, starring Robert Shaw, Harrison Ford and Edward Fox, was released in 1978.

Also notable around these parts for being one of the films that Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear franchise, has cited as a source of inspiration for his games.


The Guns of Navarone provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Several: Lt. Andy Stevens (Major Roy Franklin), Lt. Turzig (Lt. Muesel), Captain Skoda (Captain Sessler) the Greek resistance fighters Louki and Panayis (Maria Pappadimos and Anna), and, most notably, American corporal Dusty Miller becomes the very British John Anthony Miller.
  • Airstrike Impossible: Subverted because the airstrike really is impossible.
  • America Wins the War: Averted in both the book and film.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: When Maria meets her brother Spiro (who had been in America for many years), she slaps him as a reminder to write more often.
  • Avengers Assemble: A Mission: Impossible style examination of photographs.
  • Badass Crew
  • Badass Mustache: Miller.
  • Badass Teacher: In the film, Corporal Miller was a former chemistry teacher.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The guns are destroyed, the men on Kheros will be saved, and Andrea has forgiven Mallory. However, Brown and Spyros are dead, Franklin is crippled and a POW, and the people of Navarone will suffer for the team's success.
  • Blatant Lies: Andrea tells Oberleutnant Muesel he's just a fisherman who was captured by the others; meanwhile Muesel is flicking through some German intelligence photos showing the entire team including Andrea in his colonel's uniform.
    • Mallory tells Franklin their mission has been cancelled because an amphibious landing will take place instead. Supposedly this is to stop Franklin killing himself; it's actually to plant false information.
  • Blonde Guys Are Evil: Sessler, a really unpleasant little snot of an SS officer who has bleach-blonde hair.
  • The Big Guy: In the book, Andrea is described as a "giant". He's also The Lancer to Mallory.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In the film, several times characters speak untranslated German.
  • Booby Trap: Realising the Germans will find the bombs he's placed on the guns, Miller leaves a final bomb designed to go off when the shell hoist is used. It's used twice before the hoist is lowered enough to set off the charge.
  • The Butcher: "Butcher" Brown, AKA "The Butcher of Barcelona". Ironically Brown has become tired of the killing — this eventually gets him killed when he hesitates to finish off the sailor on the boat.
  • Cat Scare: The old "startled birds flying out of the cliff face" trick.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Losing the medical supplies in the shipwreck turns out to be important when Franklin's leg gets infected before they can get to a doctor.
    • The scars on Anna's back, which Maria has never seen because they don't exist.
  • Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: Mallory slips while climbing only for Andrea to grab his hand. Mallory hangs in his grasp for a long moment, no doubt thinking about what Franklin suggested earlier — that Andrea might not wait for the end of the war to kill him.
  • Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: The first obstacle for the team as they infiltrate Navarone. Mallory is chosen for the mission because in civilian life he is an accomplished mountaineer. He even uses the word "insane" when describing the idea of climbing them at all, let alone at night (and in the rain, as it turns out).
  • Cluster Bl--dy Bomb: The Australian squadron commander.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The torture Anna was said to have undergone and Captain Sessler torturing a wounded Major Franklin in the film.
  • Collapsing Lair: The German fortress after the Guns are destroyed.
  • Colonel Badass: Andrea Stavros — he's a former colonel in the Greek Motorized Infantry, and therefore technically outranks everyone.
  • Command Roster: In the film version, we have
  • Conveniently Timed Attack From Behind: Spyros saving Brown when he freezes up during the fishing boat battle.
  • Cold Sniper: Andrea calmly uses a sniper rifle to shoot the commanding officer of the troops following them, then every soldier he sees taking command afterwards.
  • Cute Mute: Anna. It turns out she can talk perfectly well. Especially to Germans.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Miller, played by David Niven.
  • Death by Adaptation: Brown. He survives in the novel.
  • Dirty Coward: Andrea pretends to be this when captured, so the Germans will let their guard down around him.
  • Doomed Hurt Guy: Andy Stevens in the novel. His fate is pretty much sealed past a certain point.
  • Dream Team
  • Dressing as the Enemy: After turning the tables on their interrogators.
  • Driven to Suicide: Franklin tries to shoot himself so he won't slow the others down.
  • During the War
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Maria.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: A German truck shoved over a cliff explodes while falling.
  • Expository Theme Tune

  • A Father to His Men: Miller snidely suggests that Mallory play this part when he's trying to convince Mallory to shoot Anna.
  • Feed the Mole: Or feed one of their men they have to leave behind and know he will be captured and interrogated.
  • The Film of the Book
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Miller and Major Franklin, who assumes this is the case with Mallory and Andrea. Subverted when Mallory reveals that Andrea plans to kill him after the war.
  • First Name Basis:
    Miller: Colonel Stavros...
    Stavros: Andrea.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flare Gun: A German soldier uses one to mark Andrea's sniping position.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Used figuratively in the film.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Expository Theme Tune says the guns will be blown up. The movie tells how.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Andrea Stavros
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of the "crack military team sent behind enemy lines" genre. One senses the influence of blacklisted writer/producer Carl Foreman in this matter.
    • Only the film. The novel is a fairly straightforward adventure yarn.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Miller in the film version.
  • Gentlemen Rankers: Corporal John Miller by contrast is one of these. In civilian life, he is a university chemistry professor and is more than qualified to be an officer, but he chooses to remain an NCO because he doesn't want to have to face the command decisions that officers have to make.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: During the landing on Navarone; this smashes the shipwrecked fishing boat before the team can take off all their equipment.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Though played without deception — Muesel tries to convince the team to reveal where they've hidden the explosives before his colleague from the SS arrives.
  • Going Native: Well Spyros is a former native of Navarone, so maybe it doesn't count, but he forgets he's a former gangster turned SOE killer and goes out in a blaze of glory to avenge his own people. Andrea too decides to stay behind with Maria, forgoing his revenge on Mallory.
  • Hair Trigger Explosive: Subverted. While Corporal Miller is explaining how his gear has been sabotaged he holds up his time pencils and says "75 grains of fulminate of mercury in each of them, enough to blow my hand off. And very unstable, very delicate." He then ruthlessly crushes them. Instead of exploding, they do nothing - the traitor removed the fulminate of mercury.
  • Hand Signals: Multiple examples
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Mallory says he's worried they're going to wake up one day and find out they're worse than the enemy.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Anna is killed by one, and the gun makes little more than a pop.
  • Ironic Echo: Miller deliberately uses Mallory's "three choices" speech.
  • I Will Fight No More Forever: "Butcher" Brown
  • I Will Only Slow You Down
    • Major Franklin after his leg is broken.
    • Stevens, in the book, tries unsuccessfully to get frozen to death in the mountains because of this trope. Later, he convinces the others to leave him behind when the only way for them to escape the Germans is to leave behind a rearguard who will have no chance of survival.
  • If We Get Through This: Subverted in the film. When the team is about to leave the seriously wounded Major Franklin behind with the Germans, Corporal Miller says "When this is over, you'll buy me lunch." Major Franklin survives.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: When Mallory refuses to tell the Germans where the explosives are, and Andrea feigns ignorance, Sessler notices the injured Franklin. Seeing how worried Mallory is about him, he threatens to beat Franklin's wounded leg if they don't talk.
    Sessler: I want an answer now! Otherwise I shall personally rearrange this officer's splints!
  • Houdini: Sessler never really gets a proper comeuppance. He isn't even in the German base when it gets destroyed.
  • The Laws and Customs of War: Mallory gave a safe conduct pass so some Germans could take their wounded to a hospital. They wanted Andrea so badly that they shot their wounded, went to his house and blew it up, killing Andrea's family. Andrea holds Mallory responsible, and is only refraining from killing him while he's useful in killing Germans. Muesel however shows there are some German soldiers who do believe in rules.
    Muesel: We don't make war on wounded men. We are not all like Hauptmann Sessler.
  • The Last Dance: Andy Stevens in the Devil's Playground, no longer afraid.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: Only about shooting a prisoner instead of sex - but with some sexual allusions in the scene because she's just had her dress torn apart and is sitting on the ground nervously trying to hold it up to keep herself covered.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Mallory says Franklin being left behind to be tortured, possibly to death, is necessary to save the men on Kheros. Miller snaps back, "I don't know the men on Kheros, but I do know the man on Navarone!"
  • The Mole: Anna.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Comes up twice. First when Franklin gets a broken leg and the team must decide whether to execute him so he doesn't slow them down or get himself captured and interrogated. Later, when The Mole is revealed, Miller argues that their only chance of finishing the mission is to kill her. They do.
    • Averted with Muesel. Mallory contemplates killing him when he won't tell them where the radio is, but ultimately relents when Muesel tells him it'd be pointless.
    Muesel: You wouldn't hesitate to kill me for any number of reasons. But not this one.
    • Very narrowly averted in the scene where Nicolai the laundry boy is caught spying on the group. Major Baker, who doesn't believe Nicolai is a spy, refuses to have him locked up, prompting Franklin to order Pappadimos to just shoot Nicolai. When a horrified Baker protests, Franklin adds, darkly, "And if the Major gets in your way, shoot him, too!" Only Mallory intervening prevents anybody from dying.
    Mallory: [to Baker] I just saved your life.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Muesel.
  • Never Tell Me the Odds: The Expository Theme Tune mentions the odds against the mission twice.
  • Non-Action Snarker: Miller as played by David Niven.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: In the book it's Stevens who gets dragged along with a broken leg; in the movie Franklin has the dubious honour.
    • Subverted in the book; early on, Miller realizes Stevens' leg is lethally infected with gas gangrene, so he's being carried to prevent the Germans capturing and interrogating him before he dies. (Also, it's implied that Mallory is hoping for a miracle of some sort.) Ultimately, when the only way for the team to escape the Germans and continue the mission involves a Heroic Sacrifice, Stevens has to pull a gun on the rest of the team to convince them that it's time to leave him behind.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Gregory Peck is playing an Englishman, but speaks with his normal voice.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Anna limps from an injury sustained during the strafing attack. Miller later points out that she's not limping any more, and she only did it to lag back so she could leave a message for the Germans.
  • Oblivious Mockery: The Australian bomber pilots cursing the man who sent them on their mission — he's actually in the room.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Deconstructed with Mallory. Miller even calls him out on it.
  • The Only One: Mallory is the most qualified they can get at short notice. He was actually supposed to being going on leave.
  • Opening Monologue
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Andrea does this in the final battle; unfortunate for a movie that generally speaking tries for accuracy.
  • Properly Paranoid: Andrea starts checking the room they're having their briefing in for listening devices, even though it's in the middle of a British army base. When Miller calls him on this, Andrea says that his caution is why he's still alive. Andrea later realizes there's a man listening at the door, proving his point.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Lt. Muesel.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: It happens in two scenes:
    • Captain Mallory talks on the phone with the Nazi guard commander while pretending to be a Nazi sentry. The entire dialogue between them is in German with no translation (but from their facial expressions and intonations you can generally figure out what they're saying).
    • When the Nazi E-boat stops the fishing boat the protagonists are on, Captain Mallory pretends to be the skipper and speaks in Greek to both the E-boat captain and his own crew. Again, he uses gestures and facial expressions to make his meaning clear to the audience.
  • Red Herring: The mission isn't blown by the spy they catch while at the British base, but by The Mole.
  • Reluctant Warrior: The film's Miller, by and large.
  • Remonstrating With A Gun: Mallory once he's had enough of Miller's attitude.
    "You've got me in the mood to use this thing, and by God if you don't think of something I'm going to use it on you!"
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Andrea, though the end of the movie implies that as far as Mallory is concerned, he's willing to forgive.
  • Same Character, But Different: Mallory, Miller, Andrea Stavros.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Anne first appears as a short-haired figure in a trenchcoat creeping around in the dark, who gets knocked out and dragged (facedown) into their midst.
  • Shoot the Dog: Captain Mallory, Anna and Maria Pappadimos.
  • Showdown at High Noon: The gun battle between Spyros Pappadimos and a German officer.
  • Single Tear: Anna gives out one, when Mallory asks her if he was right to sacrifice Franklin. It later turns out she had other reasons for crying.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A woman on the radio croons a German love song as Mallory kills the sentries in a bunker.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Major Franklin, whose counterpart Andy Stevens in the original book died.
    • Sessler, whose counterpart Skoda in the book also died.
  • Spy Speak: "High Flight reports Indians on warpath in your territory."
  • Standard Hollywood Strafing Procedure: During the Stuka attack.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Keith Mallory in the book.
  • Stock Phrases
  • Stuka Scream: Justified as they are being attacked by Stukas.
  • Suicide Mission
  • Take My Hand: Andrea with Mallory (climbing the cliff) then a Book End with Mallory holding out a boot hook to a drowning Andrea. In both cases, the rescued party is surprised the other did it.
  • Tanks, But No Tanks: The Germans use US tanks, half-tracks, armored cars and howitzers (presumably belonging to the American-supplied Greek military).
  • Tempting Fate: Major 'Lucky' Franklin jokes about his famous luck before the mission.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Andrea Stavros is the Colonel of a now-defunct Greek Regiment. He goes into Navarone as a squad member, and wants everyone to know it.
    Mallory: I think you should all know that Mr Stavros is Colonel Stavros of the Greek 19th Motorized Regiment. In other words, he outranks us all.
    Stavros: It is of no consequence, the 19th regiment no longer exists.
    Miller: Colonel Stavros...
    Stavros: Andrea.
  • Throw a Barrel at It: During the battle at sea Andrea throws a barrel at a German sailor.
  • Throwing the Distraction: A thrown piton, a knife blade scraping along a rock, and a shout are used to distract the clifftop guard, then maneuver him into position to be killed.
  • Title In: The current time and day of the mission, occurs each day.
  • Token Good Teammate: Lt. Muesel, who tries to stop Sessler from torturing Franklin.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Not played for fanservice as Anna's unmarked back proves she's lying about having been tortured by the Germans.
  • Travel Montage: In true Indiana Jones style!
  • Truffaut Was Right: Many of the actors signed on because they saw the movie as being a brutal antiwar movie. Audiences almost always see the movie as being about the excitement and heroism of war rather than the waste.
  • Truth Serums: The Germans use scopolamine on Major Franklin.
  • The Voiceless: Anna, after she's discovered to be The Mole.
  • War Is Hell: The Germans' ruthlessness, Butcher Brown's PTSD.
  • We Need a Distraction: Franklin is given false information so most of the garrison will move over to the other side of the island to defend against a non-existent landing. Andrea and Spyros stir up trouble in the town itself.
    • When captured, Andrea causes the Germans to underestimate him by pretending to break down in fear. When the guards holding them at gunpoint are sent to pick him up off the floor, he and the other members of the team disarm their captors.
  • What Have I Done: Miller has this expression when, after goading Mallory to kill Anna, Mallory nearly does it, and Maria actually does.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: The 'Australian' accent of the squadron commander doesn't sound like anything heard in Australia.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Miller blasted Mallory for giving Franklin false info about the mission which he hoped he would feed to the Nazis in case they torture him. Mallory blasts back by pointing out that someone has to take responsibility and make tough choices and Miller's outrage is really about his refusal to accept that responsibility.
  • World War II
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Miller taunts Mallory over how he's less willing to be coldly pragmatic when the victim is a beautiful woman. Stung, Mallory goes to shoot Anna. Miller moves to stop him, then Maria makes it easy for everyone by shooting her himself.
  • You Are in Command Now: Captain Mallory after Major Franklin is injured.
  • You Shall Not Pass: In the book with Andy Stevens.


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alternative title(s): The Guns Of Navarone; The Guns Of Navarone
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