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I am a great fan of "633 Squadron" and have read a few articles about
the making of the film so I can correct a few errors in previous
In the original 1956 novel the central character was Wing- Commander Roy Grenville. This was changed to Wing - Commander Roy Grant for the film. The script did make it clear that Grant was an ex - Eagle Squadron pilot. A number of Americans did fly for the RAF during WW2. After Pearl Harbour the Eagle Squadrons were eventually transferred to the USAAF but some Americans stayed in the RAF so it is not totally implausible to have an American leading an RAF squadron.
I agree that the Greek American actor George Chakiris does not look very Norwegian! However the casting of these two American actors (Robertson and Chakiris) was done to ensure the success of the film at the American box office. British war films with all- British casts tend to bomb at the American box office. The 1969 film "Battle of Britain" was the most successful film at the UK box office when it came out but it was a financial disaster in most other countries. That was why the American role in "Operation Market Garden" was prominently featured in the 1977 film "A Bridge Too Far".
I agree that the ending was ambiguous. In Frederick E Smith's 1976 sequel "Operation Rhine Maiden" it was made clear that Wing Cdr Grant had survived the crash and become a POW - in the film it is not clear whether he had died or just lost consciousness.
All the Mosquitoes used in the film were obtained from No 35 Civilian Anti Aircraft Cooperation Unit in Exeter which retired its last Mosquitoes only a few weeks before filming began. These civilian - piloted Mosquitoes were the last in service anywhere in the world.
A total off 11 Mosquitoes were used in the filming though only four were airworthy . Three Mosquitoes were destroyed during filming.
A few of the Mosquitoes used in the film still exist though none are currently airworthy. The B-25 Mitchell used as the camera plane still exists albeit in a derelict condition at North Weald Airfield in England.
I saw this movie as an American kid growing up in England in the early 1970's. It absolutely captivated me, as it did my 9 year old English schoolmates. The musical score still resonates to this day, as do the magnificent scenes of those twin Merlin powered Mosquitos. As a movie, its got its share of flaws, but as a piece of aviation memorabilia, let it live forever! Along with "The Battle of Britain", this movie will captivate audiences for generations to come who will wonder what it was like when a few brave airmen stood between barbarism and civilization. The movie may have its cheesy moments (like many WW2 flicks) but the emotions were real. A lot of those guys never came back from their missions. This film, quite simply, shows both the glory and the sacrifice of war. The De Havilland Mosquito was a remarkable aircraft, and this movie really is a tribute to all the men who designed, built, and flew it in combat.
I remember 1964 quite well and "633 Squadron" was one of those highlights. I
first saw "633" during its initial release. I was 8 years old at the time
and infatuated with just about any plane that flew especially WWII aircraft.
My dad, being in the Air Force's Strategic Air Command (SAC) at the time,
knew that "633 Squadron" was for me.
Yes, I have read some comments on this movie about the use of less than realistic props (airplane models) but let's not forget this was shot back in the early 60's. I think it was done well for the special effects technology available at the time.
Just the sight of the actual Mosquito flying scenes (don't forget there weren't very many restored Mosquitos around to fly) did it for me not to mention the opening scene flying through the clouds as the opening score played on. It really gets my blood pumping to this day!
No, I haven't said a lot about the plot or the characters because the movie went beyond that for an 8 year old boy "flying" with the Squadron. Now at 42 I have re-lived those great memories by seeing this movie a second and third time. I recommend this movie for just about everyone.
Sometimes we must look thru the leaves to see the tree.
A WW2 squadron of Mosquito bombers are training for a perilous mission
to bomb a cliff face in Norway; with the aim to bring the cliff
tumbling down on the German arms factory below it.
633 Squadron may not be a film for the War enthusiast purists? But the work done here to make this film a winner should never be understated. In this day and age it's often forgotten how these type of film's relied on good aerial photography, deft model work, and a stirring score. All of which this picture contains, thus making 633 Squadron more than a wet day crowd pleaser. Sure the intermittent scenes between the training sequences and the actual mission are mere filler, and the subplots obviously halt the flow of the movie (hello romance, hello sacrifice clichés); but what they do do is give a sort of added feel to the proceedings come the mission at the end. We do after all have to have some sort of affinity with the characters putting their lives at risk, and we get that here courtesy of a well written first half. Also boasting (in my opinion naturally) one of the greatest scores used in a War movie, courtesy of Ron Goodwin, the film triumphs because the ending is all that you hope for. In truth it's never in doubt given the build up we are given (and being the normality for many genre pieces), but with little dashes of poignancy and slivers of adrenalin rushes, the impact is akin to a jingoistic chest thudding.
Besides which, if you can't get a tingle on your neck watching the Mosquitoes fly over the Norwegian fjord? Well you got no blood in your body say I. 7/10
I have a feeling this isn't the only time that Cliff Robertson played
the trans-Atlantic star beefing up a late British war movie for the US
market. However, Cliff is NOT playing a British squadron leader! There
were a large number of Canadian and Australian flyers in British
squadrons during WWII. We also have the fleeting appearance in the
movie of an Indian pilot. I suspect Cliff is representing a Canadian -
though there were also a few US volunteers flying in the RAF in WWII
(as late as 1944 and in a bomber I'm not so sure about - but its not
totally impossible!) The real casting problem is George Chakiris. Very
Greek/Italian and not at all Norwegian in appearance or accent! Also he
lacks the screen presence or acting ability of Robertson. Considering
his sister's looks I can only assume that there was a Greek milkman in
that Norwegian town in the 1930s! Maria Perschy looks suitably
Norwegian (and stunning) and doesn't try too hard for an accent
otherwise than educated English - which considering she was Austrian
may well have been a very good thing! Oh but the film has real flying
scenes of Mosquitos and a flying score to match the Dambusters March so
its a film worth watching. The lack of CGI is a huge bonus (though it
does present us with some very dodgy models in action and the memory
they destroyed a few real Mosquitos making the film). It also has one
of the most stirring old-fashioned closing lines in film history
delivered as only Harry Andrews could.
So I'd recommend watching it with critical facilities on 'mute' - enjoy what's there to be enjoyed and ignore the rest of it!!!
In the spring of 1944 an RAF Mosquito Squadron are ordered to attack a
German rocket fuel plant in Norway. The mission involves flying up a heavily
defended fjord and bombing a cliff overhang in an attempt to bury the
factory, which is built into the rock.
I bought this on DVD in a '3 for £20' offer, as I had fond memories of it from childhood, and it had been around 20 years since I last remember seeing it. I have to say that it's not nearly as good as I remembered it to be. The plot is full of cliches and there's the inevitable love interest for the lead. That said, there are points to recommend it. Cliff Robertson gives another reliable performance as the Wing Commander in charge of the squadron, and there are equally dependable turns from Harry Andrews and Donald Houston. The numerous flying sequences with the Mosquito Bombers are expertly filmed, and it's a real bonus to finally see the film in its correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The special effects aren't bad for 1964, and Ron Goodwin's famous score underpins the whole venture.
The main problem that I have with the film is that it borrows heavily from 'The Dam Busters' in terms of plot, without ever scaling the heights (no pun intended) of that classic. It may have lush Panavision photography, better effects etc., but lacks the nail biting tension and expertly constructed drama of its predecessor. However, it's perfectly acceptable entertainment, if somewhat abrupt at the end.
I saw this when it first came out I was eight years old, and lived
close to a WWII airfield south of London, so I was captivated by a film
which gave me a wealth of fantasy to enjoy while I walked the then
deserted runways of Kenley.
I have just watched the DVD. I still enjoyed the movie despite its many shortcomings. Probably the score has a lot to do with this. Ron Goodwin is a most under-rated composer. Only a master could base music on machine gun fire and end up with something so thoroughly uplifting.
Though this film does not bear excessive scrutiny, I have to applaud the hard-nosed portrayal of the fliers. It is my understanding that grieving is often a luxury in war, and one combatants did not allow themselves.
The parallel with Star Wars is valid. but the finale is something Lucas could not have contemplated without risking his box office takings!! You'll have to see it to figure out why. Oh and turn the volume up for the music.
I think the reason so many of the viewers have voted low is due to the lack of Americans saving the day in a mysterious twist of history once again! Personally I find the film quite good and the soundtrack is awesome!Unfortunately as I said before the majority of viewers are from the states so little praise would be given to a film where the Brits do something alone (as they actually did on many occasions!)
The Men of the 633 Squadron of the Royal Air Force have one nasty
mission to perform. The Nazis have built a factory deep within a cliff
with an overhang on a Norwegian fjord that is making a special fuel for
rockets they're developing.
The RAF encountered a similar problem in The Guns of Navarone where an overhang protected two large pieces of artillery that was wreaking havoc on allied shipping. They gave up bombing there, but the Norwegian resistance brought in a geological consultant who says if they come in low and hit a certain spot with a fissure the whole thing will collapse and bury the factory under tons of rock.
The RAF mission, come in low and drop bombs enough to crack that fissure. It's a nasty mission for Cliff Robertson and his men even with aid from a ground attack planned by George Chakiris with the Norwegian resistance.
What's best about 633 Squadron are the special effects where they used vintage Mosquito fighter planes from World War II. It's really done quite well and is exciting.
As usual an American actor is brought in via the RAF Eagle Squadron for foreign pilots who enlisted before Pearl Harbor. In this case it's Cliff Robertson although he's a fine actor, isn't exactly box office. Maybe the producers thought he would be as he was just coming off playing John F. Kennedy in PT 109.
I'm also not quite sure why the Nazis would locate a fuel for rockets that were to be used in defending the western Europe beach from the invasion in Norway. Maybe they were listening on Winston Churchill who was constantly advocating a Norwegian invasion though American military and his own military told him that wasn't feasible. If it was for a cross channel invasion defense, that would have presented a transportation logistics problem for the Germans.
In any event it's nice war film with great special effects.
I used to love this movie . When I was a child in the 1970s this movie
would be shown at least once a year on television and I would always go
out of my way to watch it and no matter how many times I saw it I would
always enjoy it . It's an exciting war movie involving brave noble men
in the RAF and Norwegian resistance giving those cruel Nazis what for .
Jolly good show chaps
I hadn't seen this movie for years until today but was still interested in seeing it again and was slightly disappointed . Yes it might be exciting to a ten year old child in the 1970s but as an adult my critical faculties was instantly able to notice what's wrong with this movie
The screenplay feels rather disjointed as it jumps about from location to location and it almost feels like a storyboard rather than a completed script since the scenes seem to finish and start in an unnatural manner . This might actually be the fault of the editing rather than the screenplay because things might be spliced together in the wrong order . Take for example the scene where the airfield is attacked by the Germans ( The Luftwaffe could launch attacks on English airfields in 1944 ? Highly unlikely ) which then cuts to the bar later that day where everyone is drinking and singing and laughing and where no one refers to the attack . It's as if the previous scene had never happened and is undoubtedly a blunder by the film makers
It's by no means unique to this movie but another noticeable aspect when viewed today as an adult is how poor and dated the FX are . Cut to a Mosquito aircraft in mid flight then cut to the interior of the cockpit which is obviously a studio set with some painfully obvious back screen projection and of course there's the very obvious model aircraft which is a common flaw with airborne war movies from this period
All this makes a long cherished movie like 633 SQUADRON rather disappointing when viewed today but it's by no means a terrible movie . Ron Goodwin's score still remains impressive and some of the scenes were reworked into a little known film from 1977 called STAR WARS so it can't be all bad . If people are complaining that one of the Norwegians looks Greek then they must try getting out a bit more
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