Force 10 from Navarone (film)

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Force 10 From Navarone
Force 10 From Navarone movie.jpg
US film poster by Brian Bysouth
Directed byGuy Hamilton
Produced byOliver A. Unger
Screenplay byRobin Chapman
George MacDonald Fraser (uncredited)[1]
Story byCarl Foreman
Based onForce 10 from Navarone
by Alistair MacLean
StarringRobert Shaw
Harrison Ford
Barbara Bach
Edward Fox
Franco Nero
Music byRon Goodwin
CinematographyChristopher Challis
Edited byRaymond Poulton
Columbia Pictures
Navarone Productions Ltd
Distributed byColumbia-Warner Distributors (UK)[2]
American International Pictures (US)
Release date
  • 8 December 1978 (1978-12-08) (US)
  • 14 December 1978 (1978-12-14) (UK)
Running time
118 minutes (release)
126 minutes (restored)
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
Box officeUS$7,100,000 (US)

Force 10 from Navarone is a 1978 British-American war film loosely based on Alistair MacLean's 1968 novel of the same name. It is a sequel to the 1961 film The Guns of Navarone. The parts of Mallory and Miller are played by Robert Shaw (who died before the film was released) and Edward Fox, succeeding the roles originally portrayed by Gregory Peck and David Niven. It was directed by Guy Hamilton and also stars Harrison Ford, Carl Weathers, Barbara Bach, Franco Nero, and Richard Kiel.

The film gets its title from the Alistair MacLean book of the same name, but bears little resemblance to the narrative of the novel. The differences are so apparent that MacLean would go on to loosely adapt part of the screenplay into his 1982 book Partisans.


In 1943, Major Keith Mallory (Robert Shaw) and Sergeant Donovan "Dusty" Miller (Edward Fox) are sent to find and "eliminate" Nicolai (a German spy, Colonel von Ingorslebon), who is believed to have successfully infiltrated the Yugoslav Partisans as "Captain Lescovar" (Franco Nero).

To get to Yugoslavia, the two men pair with "Force 10", an American sabotage unit, led by Lieutenant Colonel Mike Barnsby (Harrison Ford), and steal a Lancaster bomber. They are joined by Weaver (Carl Weathers), a US Army sergeant escaping arrest by the Military Police, and escape, only to be shot down by the Luftwaffe. Only Barnsby, Mallory, Miller, Weaver, and Lieutenant Doug Reynolds (Angus MacInnes) escape the crippled plane.

The survivors initially come upon a band of men they believe are Partisans but later revealed to be collaborationist Chetniks led by Captain Drazak (Richard Kiel). Taken prisoner, they tell the German commander in control of the area, Major Schroeder (Michael Byrne), that they are criminals deserting Allied authorities. To keep Schroeder from opening Miller's suitcase, which contains explosives, Mallory tells him it contains the new drug "penicillin" which will spoil if exposed to air. The next morning the prisoners are told that Schroeder has opened the case, finding it full of firewood. They improvise an excuse, "admitting" they buried the samples. Schroeder sends Barnsby and Mallory to retrieve them under the guard of his concubine Maritza (Barbara Bach) and three soldiers. Miller, Weaver, and Reynolds are left in a cell in camp.

Far from camp, Maritza kills the Germans, revealing herself to be a Partisan. She hid the explosives and replaced them with firewood. She directs Mallory and Barnsby towards the Partisan camp under the command of her father, Major Petrovich (Alan Badel). Mallory and Barnsby escape and meet a patrol of real Yugoslav Partisans led by Mallory's target – Captain Lescovar alias Nicolai, who has the trust of Petrovich and has evaded suspicion by having had another man framed and executed as "Nicolai". Mallory and Barnsby are taken to the partisan camp, which lies near a hydroelectric dam.

A ravine separates Germans forces from the outnumbered partisan camp. An arch bridge links each side of the ravine, but the partisans have been unable to destroy it. Barnsby reveals that the bridge is Force 10's target. Mallory convinces Petrovich to mount a rescue mission of the demolitions expert Miller, using Lescovar and Marko (Petar Buntic), a loyal Partisan.

The four re-enter the camp at night, with Mallory and Barnsby posing as captives, and Lescovar and Marko disguised as Chetniks. Drazak arrives with the bodies of the two real Chetniks. Drazak realizes that Maritza must have helped Miller and Mallory escape, and begins beating her viciously. Schroeder and Reynolds are killed in a gun battle, but Mallory, Barnsby, Miller, Weaver, Lescovar, and Marko escape with a badly beaten Maritza and the recovered explosives.

Miller reveals that the bridge is impregnable, which Barnsby refuses to accept. Mallory hits upon the idea of destroying the upstream dam with the sudden onrush of millions of gallons of water being enough to destroy the bridge. A night-time air drop is arranged to replace Force 10's lost supplies, but Lescovar, who has managed to seemingly evade suspicion, is revealed to be the saboteur, calling in German planes to stop the drop. Maritza catches Lescovar in the act but he kills her before she can warn the others, and German planes bomb the illuminated drop zone killing numerous Partisans.

Petrovich, angered by the botched air drop, orders the men to be sent to Marshal Tito's headquarters for transport back to Italy. The team infiltrates the German marshaling yards at Mostar to steal explosives accompanied by Lescovar and Marko. Lescovar again betrays them, alerting a German officer, Sergeant Bismark (Paul Humpoletz), to their presence and identifying himself as an Abwehr intelligence officer. Marko sacrifices himself to save the others, who escape with Lescovar aboard a train leaving for Sarajevo. Lescovar is questioned by the others as to why the German sergeant saluted him and why he did not reveal that the train bound for Sarajevo passed quite close to the dam. Lescovar initially denies the accusations but gives himself away and is shot dead by Barnsby, who then asks Mallory to return the favour by helping him accomplish Force 10's mission.

Jumping the train near the dam, the team splits up: Miller and Weaver set off diversionary explosives while Mallory and Barnsby sneak into the dam. Weaver runs into Captain Drazak and kills him in a knife fight, sustaining a serious injury to his arm. Mallory and Barnsby set their charges within the dam and are caught in the explosion yet survive. The dam wall collapses, releasing millions of tons of water in a wave that topples the bridge. The German assault is thwarted, saving Petrovich and the Partisans.

Mallory and Barnsby rejoin Miller and an injured Weaver. Mallory reminds the others they are trapped on the wrong side of the river. As the credits roll, the men begin a strenuous journey back to friendly lines.




Initially there had been plans to produce the film shortly after the 1961 original with Gregory Peck and David Niven reprising their roles. Following the success of the original film, producer Carl Foreman asked MacLean to write a hardcover sequel novel on which a follow-up film would be based, but the author was reluctant to write an entire novel and instead delivered a screen treatment.

In April 1967 Carl Foreman announced he would make After Navarone with Anthony Quinn, Gregory Peck and David Niven reprising their roles and J Lee Thompson returning as director. The film would be made by Columbia.[4] In May it was announced the film would be called The High Dam and filming would take place in 1969.[5]

Filming did not proceed. MacLean decided to develop the screen treatment as a book and Force 10 from Navarone was published in 1968.

Throughout the 1970s Foreman tried to get financial backing for the film and eventually secured money to finance the production from five different international sources. But by the time film was to start, 17 years after the original, Peck and Niven were considered too old and the decision was made to recast.

Cinematographer Christopher Challis recalled that the film was originally considered to be filmed in Pakistan until someone realised that Pakistanis did not resemble Yugoslavians or Germans and the expense to make them appear as such on film would be financially prohibitive.[6]

Second World War background[edit]

The bridge over the Tara River, which is the target of the commando operation in the film, was destroyed by partisans in 1942 with the original engineer that built the bridge (Lazar Jauković) involved in the operation to destroy it.[7]


The producers wanted Robert Bolt to write the screenplay but he was busy working with David Lean. Bolt's agent Peggy Ramsey suggested they hire Robin Chapman.[8]

George MacDonald Fraser was hired to do further work on the script during filming in Yugoslavia, in part because he and Guy Hamilton got along well when both worked on Superman (1978). However Fraser is not credited on the film.[1]


Several actors in the film either had already played roles in the James Bond 007 franchise or would go on to appear in the series. In addition to Shaw (from From Russia with Love), was Bach (fresh off playing the Russian spy Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me), and Edward Fox (who went on to play M in Never Say Never Again).

Bach's co-star from The Spy Who Loved Me, Richard Kiel, also appears, as a vicious and brutal Chetnik.

Michael Byrne, who plays Major Schroeder, the Nazi commander who has captured Harrison Ford's character in Force 10 would later play Nazi Colonel Vogel who captures Ford's character in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Wolf Kahler, who appears in Force 10 as a German soldier, would later appear with Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark, again as a German soldier.

Fox at the time was best known of The Day of the Jackal and playing Edward VIII on television.[9]


Shepperton Studios outside London were used for most indoor scenes and included a full-scale mock-up of a Lancaster bomber, while scenes were shot around the Đurđevića Tara Bridge, Montenegro, and Jablanica Dam on Jablaničko Lake in Jablanica, Bosnia and Herzegovina with the assistance of Jadran Film. Scale models of the dam, the valley and the bridge were constructed at the Mediterranean Film Studios in Malta.

Some scenes were also shot in the Royal Naval Dockyard (South Yard) in Devonport, Plymouth (during a shot of the railway carriages the letters PSTO(N) can be seen, this stands for Principal Supply and Transport Officer (Navy), and on Jersey in the Channel Islands.[10]

Shaw said during filming that "I'm seriously thinking that this might be my last film... I no longer have anything real to say. I'm appalled at some of the lines... I'm not at ease in film. I can't remember the last film I enjoyed making."[11]

(Shaw died in August 1978 of a heart attack, before Navarone had been released. It was his second last film, as he was making Avalanche Express when he died.[12])

Filming went for five months.[13]

Musical score[edit]

Composer Ron Goodwin scored the film to the 126-minute version during the summer of 1978. Before the film was released it was shortened to 118 minutes. Additional music cues were created by recycling music from other parts of the film — typically reusing suspense passages in scenes for which they were not written. The CD release of the soundtrack by Film Score Monthly chronicles these changes, and presents the score as Goodwin wrote and recorded it for the 126-minute version.


The 118-minute cut was released theatrically overseas by Columbia Pictures, which had released The Guns of Navarone.


After being screened at Camp David as the Thanksgiving film for US President Jimmy Carter, the film was released in the United States on 8 December 1978 to mixed reviews (according to production notes that accompanied the 2000 DVD release).

Before the film came out Maclean said in an interview "I am hopeful this return to Navarone will be good too, although the storyline bears little resemblance to what I wrote. Robert Shaw was a good actor, one of the most in demand in the world today. And I am told he did a good job. Whatever, this couldn't help be the best [of the recent adaptations of his work for the screen] because the rest were rubbish. But I am not bitter, you understand. The sale of my stories to the movies has been a matter of business - a process from which I usually detach myself."[14]


Review aggregations website Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 64% based on 11 reviews.[15]

Legal action[edit]

Although three producers of the film are deceased (Carl Foreman, Sidney Cohn and Oliver Unger), their estates and surviving producer Peter Gettinger sued Sony Pictures (as Columbia Pictures' successor) for unpaid sums from distribution rights. Following a May 2008 trial in the N.Y. Supreme Court, a judgement awarded the producers more than 30 years of funds withheld by Columbia Pictures.[16] Sony appealed against the decision, but it was upheld on 1 September 2009 by the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, New York.[17]


  1. ^ a b George MacDonald Fraser, The Light's on at Signpost, HarperCollins 2002 p130-141
  2. ^ BBFC: Force 10 from Navarone; retrieved 31 December 2012.
  3. ^ BFI: Force 10 from Navarone Retrieved 31 December 2012
  4. ^ Second 'Navarone' Film Set Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 13 Apr 1967: d19.
  5. ^ Firm Will Do McGee Films Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 20 May 1967: b9.
  6. ^ p. 158 Challis, Christopher Are They Really So Awful?: A Cameraman's Chronicles, Janus Publishing Company Lim, 1995.
  7. ^ Đurđevića Tara Bridge
  8. ^ Hollywood battles: [Final 1 Edition] Sunday Times 12 May 2002: 18.
  9. ^ At the Movies: A Hollywood drama in the making of 'Movie, Movie.' Buckley, Tom. New York Times 8 Dec 1978: C8.
  10. ^ Storm clouds over Navarone Radin, Victoria. The Observer29 Jan 1978: 29.
  11. ^ Shaw: Cash crunch adds up to misery Dangaard, Colin. Chicago Tribune 29 Jan 1978: e20.
  12. ^ FILM CLIPS: Memories of Robert Shaw: 'A Gallant Man' Lee, Grant. Los Angeles Times 2 Sep 1978: b5.
  13. ^ FILM CLIPS: One on One in 'Rocky II' Lee, Grant. Los Angeles Times 23 Sep 1978: b6.
  14. ^ Mystery of success: Alistair MacLean wants to be great Dangaard, Colin. Chicago Tribune 11 Sep 1978: b1.
  15. ^ "Force 10 From Navarone". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  16. ^ Justia US Law: Navarone Prods., N.V. v HSBC Gibbs Gulf Ins. Consultants Ltd, case 600707/04, Supreme Court of New York County, 29 December 2008 Retrieved 31 December 2012
  17. ^ FindLaw: Navarone Productions v. HSBC Gibbs Gulf Insurance Consultants Limited, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York, 1 September 2009 Retrieved 31 December 2012

External links[edit]