Monday, November 24, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Force 10 from Navarone (1978) ***

PG, 118 min.
Director: Guy Hamilton
Writers: Robin Chapman, Carl Foreman, Alistair MacLean (novel)
Starring: Robert Shaw, Harrison Ford, Edward Fox, Carl Weathers, Franco Nero, Richard Kiel, Barbara Bach, Alan Badel, Michael Byrne, Angus MacInnes, Philip Latham

My wife and I have always been pretty protective of our children when it comes to exposing them to mature content in movies. I believe it depends on the person as to what they can handle by which age. Some kids will handle things better at an earlier age than others. By this point both of our older boys (13 and 9) have long since been exposed to all sorts of violence through video games and playing with their friends. Seeing “Fury” recently, I was reminded how much war movies helped to form my tastes as a cineaste and I realized that I have never shown my boys a real war movie. So, I decided to start them on the one I believe my father started me on, Alistair MacLean’s follow up the “The Guns of Navarone” and early Harrison Ford flick “Force 10 from Navarone”.

Why start them on the sequel first? Simply put, the sequel is shorter and has a quicker pace. It’s also a mission that has little to do with the original story. There are some tie-in elements, but you don’t need to see one to enjoy the other. I also felt Harrison Ford would help keep their minds open about a different time in filmmaking before CGI and the relentless action of modern blockbusters. What I had forgotten was that it was OK to show female breasts in the 70s as long as it wasn’t in a sexual context. Thank you Barbara Bach for becoming my oldest’s first obsession. I prefer her to someone like Miley Cyrus. It should also be noted that he covered his eyes during that brief scene.

Anyway, I’ve always had great affection for this film for being the first World War II movie I ever saw. “Force 10” is certainly not as deep as other WWII films like Sam Fuller’s “The Big Red One”. I suppose it takes more of a war as adventure angle, which is often criticized for glorifying war. Directed by James Bond veteran Guy Hamilton, it has much the same spirit as the 70s Bond flicks. I’m sure if Ford weren’t so American, he would’ve been in contention to replace Roger Moore before Timothy Dalton.

I always loved the fact that they stole a plane from their own base in order to keep the mission completely top secret. The spy the British agents are sent to kill and blowing of the bridge for the American unit make for some wonderful story elements to keep the film going without getting too deep into the horrors of war. It’s much more of an espionage film than a war film, but the Nazis make for their usual great villainous threat. It’s a good movie to dip into the WWII setting, a kind of transitional movie.

I would guess my boys will enjoy war movies as much as I do, probably for different reasons each. The younger of the two just loves the idea of soldiers and missions and combat. The oldest I’m sure will become more engrossed by the historical and emotional elements of the genre. I’m thinking maybe “Kelley’s Heroes” next and then go a little deeper with “Hell is for Heroes” and “The Big Red One” before advancing into tougher territory like “Apocalypse Now” and “Platoon”.

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