Based on the novel of the same name by Alistair MacLean, The Guns of Navarone although fictional, the backdrop emphasizes the Dodecanese Campaign of Second World War. During this operation British forces tried to capture the Italian held Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea. However things did not materialize as intended & the allies’ attempt to take over the island failed resulting to German annexation.
Plot : Collapse of the allied forces in the campaign lead to the stranding of thousands of British soldiers on the island of Keros in the Aegean Sea. They faced the risk of total annihilation if not rescued. The presence of German radar-directed coastal guns on the nearby island of Navarone made it impossible for the Royal Navy to attempt any kind of rescue operation. Since the German forces have been planning for an offensive operation on Keros it became imperative to save the isolated soldiers. With time running out the allied high command finally comes up with an idea of destroying the Navarone coastal batteries. With the mission authorization it was decided to pick a group of saboteurs who would sail to Navarone & destroy the guns.
The team handpicked for the assignment included Captain Keith Mallory (Gregory Peck) a legendary mountaineer; Andrea Stavrou (Anthony Quinn) a former colonel in the resistance Greek army who had his own agenda to follow Mallory; Corporal Miller (David Niven) although sometimes annoying with his ill-timed jokes he was nonetheless an explosive specialist; Private Brown (Stanley Baker) the communication engineer whose knife fighting skill earned him the nickname as ‘The Butcher of Barcelona’ for killing many in the Spanish Civil War; Private Spyros Pappadimos (James Darren) a Greek-American who was assigned this mission for being a 'born killer' as once stated by the intelligence officer; finally Major Roy Franklin (Anthony Quayle) who was supposed to spearhead the operation.
Amid all the action the moral complexities offered are in fact very reflective; we find some members who find themselves disillusioned with the killings & sometimes even cynical with credibility of the whole mission. When grave injury compels Roy to put Mallory in charge; disparity with Miller on certain ideologies gets well explored which puts forth some ethical issues. Mallory’s gradual leadership effectively shows how war can bring out the best of men under overwhelming situation. The Guns of Navarone is one of the classics of all time which has materialized with years. Even after five decades the story still holds its essence making it one of the finest war movies of that era.