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They Who Dare (1954)
Effective Action Movie WW2 with Authentic Aircraft
This film will be of great interest to WW2 Aviation enthusiasts as it features several authentic Italian Savoia - Marchetti S.M. 79 three - motor bombers. These aircraft were provided by the Lebanese Air Force which was the last operator of the type.
I would make an educated guess that this film was shot on Cyprus as there is an abundance of British Army trucks and armoured cars modified and painted to resemble German vehicles. A Bristol Beaufighter aircraft can also be briefly glimpsed during the airfield attack sequence.
The special effects ,such as model aircraft being blown up, are not up to modern standards but they are no worse than other 1950s war movies such as "The Dambusters".
Uccidete Rommel (1969)
Not the best war movie but some accurate hardware
I saw this film on "Movies for Men" last night. It is clear that it was filmed in Egypt not Tunisia (as another reviewer suggested)as the Great Pyramids at Giza appear in one shot! Also the "German" tanks in one sequence were Shermans specially fitted with the turret and gun from the French AMX tank. This was a unique and odd-looking variant of the Sherman used only by the Egyptian Army.
To my delight the "British" tanks in the same sequence were Shermans with short - barrelled 75mm M3 guns,correct for the period.This was one of the few war films I have ever seen which features Shermans and of the correct mark. By comparison the critically acclaimed "Patton" was totally inaccurate in its use of M-47,M-24 and M-41 tanks to depict British,German and U.S. Armour.
Even the largely accurate "A Bridge Too Far" features the wrong Mark of Shermans.
Entertaining low budget action flick
I first saw "Tobruk" when it first came out in 1967. It is an entertaining action picture that delivers plenty of thrills.
The main flaw of this picture (like so many American war movies before and since) is that German and Italian armour and vehicles are represented by Korean War - era American equipment. However the high budget "Battle of the Bulge" and the Oscar - winning "Patton - Lust for Glory" had the same fault.
If "Tobruk" was being made nowadays,greater care would be taken to ensure that vehicles and equipment were correct for the period.
Interestingly the cinema poster for this film shows the Germans using Panther tanks,a type which never saw action in North Africa as it had its combat debut at the Battle of Kursk in the Summer of 1943.
Force 10 from Navarone (1978)
An underrated war classic
Despite its faults this is one of my favourite war movies. To me the worst part of the film is the sequence involving an Avro Lancaster bomber.
When we first see the Lancaster it is represented by a very unconvincing two dimensional painted background "flat". This same technique was used much more successfully to represent parked B -17s in "Memphis Belle" and Horsa gliders in "A Bridge Too Far". In "Force 10 From Navarone" this technique is used very badly. Then we see a mock up of a Lancaster interior done in the studio,some stock monochrome footage from "The Dambusters",some real air-to-air footage of the RAF's airworthy Lancaster and then some model work.
The whole sequence is very unconvincing and looks like the effects in a 1950s movie. In any case Lancasters were never flown from Italian bases (as far as I am aware).And it is rather unlikely that Harrison Ford's character - an army colonel - would be able to fly a Lancaster without prior special training. The producers should really have substituted another aircraft type such as the Dakota and then done it for real.
Interestingly the worst part of the original "Guns of Navarone" was the opening sequence involving model Lancasters - again inaccurate because Lancasters were never flown against targets in Greece.
"Force 10 From Navarone" is pretty good apart from this one sequence. It was also the last big war movie scored by Ron Goodwin ,who dies in 2003.
Hanover Street (1979)
More of a Love Story than a war movie
One of my female friends once told she hated "Memphis Belle but she liked this film. It is not hard to see why. It is more of a Barbara Cartland style romance than an action adventure movie.
One interesting point is that former RAF /USAAF airfield at Bovingdon was used for filming. It was previously used as the location for a number of air movies such as "633 Squadron","Mosquito Squadron" and "The War Lover". By the time "Hanover Street" started filming in 1978 it was disused and derelict so the aircraft were only filmed with very long lenses to avoid showing the background clearly.
The film suffers from too many historical and technical errors to be taken seriously by WW2 buffs. For example there is a discussion about "light " and "heavy flak" which makes it clear that writer/director Peter Hyams thinks these terms refer to the number of guns employed whereas in fact they refer to the calibre of the weapons. For example a target defended by 100 x 20 mm guns is defended by "light" flak while a target defended by a single 88mm gun is defended by "heavy" flak.
There is also a scene where the two heroes are pursued by a Hetzer tank destroyer,a vehicle whose only role is the destruction of enemy armour and would be singularly unsuited to the task of pursuing enemy agents.
On the credit side John Barry delivers his usual excellent score.
Mosquito Squadron (1969)
Not the best air movie but still worth watching
I like this movie even though it is not the best air movie made.
Contrary to what Sgt Slaughter has said the "Highball" bouncing bomb depicted in the movie did actually exist and was capable of being used against tunnels though its primary role was anti-shipping. The monochrome footage of the Mosquito test dropping a "Highball" on land ,which is used in the film ,is genuine footage from WW2.
However the "Highball" could only be fitted to bomber versions of the Mosquito. The Mosquitoes used in the film were supposed to be FBVI fighter - bomber versions with nose guns and short bomb bays which could not be fitted with Highball. Also ,fitting of Highball necessitated removal of the bomb bay doors and the film Mosquitoes supposedly carry Highball inside their bomb bays.
The worst feature of the film,as pointed out by other reviewers , was the excessive use of footage from "633 Squadron". Despite this,four genuine airworthy Mosquitoes were used in the production. A fifth Mosquito which was in a damaged,non-airworthy condition,was used in the crash scene at th end. This particular Mosquito can now be seen at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. Three of the four airworthy Mosquitoes used in the film still exist while the fourth Mosquito T3 RR299,which was the last airworthy Mosquito in the World,was destroyed in a flying accident in 1996.
The credit sequences of the film feature four Mosquitoes flying in formation. This was the last time that four Mosquitoes flew together.
I am always amused by the scene where David McCallum's character comments on the apparently large amount of flak defending a château when in fact it is one 20mm Oerlikon Twin mount and a single light machine gun.
633 Squadron (1964)
An Aviation Classic
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 postings.
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.