Double Feature

The Guns of Navarone

The Passage

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The Guns of Navarone

The gold standard for the subgenre of a crack team of experts going on a suicide mission behind enemy lines. Nominated for seven Oscars, this adaptation of the Alistair Maclean bestseller won for Best Special Effects. During WW2, major Gregory Peck becomes the leader when their commander (Anthony Quayle) is injured on the group’s rain-drenched climb up the seaside cliffs of Navarone. The Greek island houses the Nazis’ two monstrous cannons that bombard Allied ships in the channel. The task of taking out the guns must be accomplished on a tight schedule before 2,000 stranded British soldiers are captured. The mismatched band includes Anthony Quinn, David Niven, Stanley Baker, James Darren and resistance fighters Irene Papas (Zorba the Greek) and Gia Scala. Director J. Lee Thompson was drafted at the last minute when producer Carl Foreman had differences with original helmer, Alexander Mackendrick (Sweet Smell of Success). Thompson ratchets up the suspense in a series of progressively more bravura set pieces. If you have never experienced this epic on the big screen, this is the perfect opportunity to do it!

“With a bunch of weighty stars, terrific special effects and several socko situations, producer Carl Foreman and director J. Lee Thompson sired a winner.” – Variety

“Even though the picture runs more than two hours and a half, it moves swiftly and gets where it is going. J. Lee Thompson has directed it with pace and has seen to it that the actors give the impression of being stout and bold.” – Bosley Crowther, The New York Times

Read about the true story behind The Guns of Navarone

On StarWars.com, learn how the blockbuster space franchise was inspired by The Guns of Navarone

Chris D explores director J. Lee Thompson’s extensive career on the New Beverly blog.

Download a PDF of The Guns of Navarone‘s original press book.

Director
J. Lee Thompson
Starring
Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Stanley Baker, Anthony Quayle, Irene Papas, Gia Scala, James Darren
Year
1961
Country
UK/USA
Format
35mm
Running Time
158 minutes

The Passage

Director J. Lee Thompson follows Anthony Quinn on a WW2 mission to spirit away scientist James Mason and family (Patricia Neal, Kay Lenz), through the Pyrenees mountains. Chasing them is SS officer Malcolm McDowell and his men. Along the way, the refugees encounter gypsy leader Christopher Lee who suffers an infernal fate at the hands of the pursuers. The film was a flop, but is now remembered fondly for McDowell’s outrageous channeling of his Clockwork Orange persona.

“…quite remarkable what McDowell did here, stealing the film by chewing the scenery with such abandon that the rest of the cast were reduced to mumbling and fumbling in his almighty wake… Yet for those who actually saw this, there were some chilled to the bone by him ‘chop-chop- chop’-ing off fingers or flinging grenades with pithy quips.” – Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image

“McDowell’s campy performance must be seen to be disbelieved.” – Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide

“Thompson fills the screen with energetic camerawork” – Every 70s Movie blog

Chris D explores director J. Lee Thompson’s extensive career on the New Beverly blog.

Download a PDF of The Passage’s original advertising & publicity guide.

See a collection of original US lobby cards for The Passage on the New Beverly forum.

Director
J. Lee Thompson
Starring
Anthony Quinn, James Mason, Malcolm McDowell, Patricia Neal, Kay Lenz, Christopher Lee
Year
1979
Rated
R
Country
UK
Format
35mm
Running Time
99 minutes

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