Force 10 from Navarone (1978)


Force 10 from Navarone is a 1978 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, but the parts of Mallory and Miller are played by Robert Shaw and Edward Fox. It was directed by Guy Hamilton and also stars Harrison Ford, Carl Weathers, Barbara Bach, Franco Nero, and Richard Kiel. Shaw's portrayal of Mallory differs from both MacLean's literary character and Gregory Peck's portrayal in Guns, being a slightly older, more thoughtful strategist rather than the almost superhuman man of action which commonly characterized MacLean's protagonists.


After the successful Navarone mission, Commander Jensen (Philip Latham) tells Mallory (Robert Shaw) and Miller (Edward Fox) to identify and kill a spy known as "Nicolai", who is now thought to be disguised among the Yugoslav Partisans as a Captain Lescovar (Franco Nero). (In The Guns of Navarone, the character Nicolai was the laundry boy suspected of listening to Mallory's conversations.) To get to Yugoslavia the two men pair with "Force 10", an American sabotage unit led by Lt. Col. Barnsby (Harrison Ford) and having with its own mission in Yugoslavia. To maximize security, Force 10 steals a plane from Termoli rather than requisitioning one. US M.Ps spot the theft and try to prevent it. Weaver (Carl Weathers), a US Army sergeant under arrest by the MP's, throws his lot in with Force 10 and forces his way onto the plane. Barnsby and crew successfully "escape" Termoli only to be shot down by German night fighters over Yugoslavia. Only Barnsby, Mallory, Miller, Weaver and Reynolds (Angus MacInnes) manage to escape the crippled plane. On the ground, the survivors run across a group they believe to be Communist Yugoslav Partisans. Led by a Capt Drazak (Richard Kiel), Force 10's rescuers are soon revealed to be collaborationist Chetniks (nationalist Serb guerrillas) under German control. Now in German custody, Mallory and Barnsby attempt to convince the commander, Major Schroeder (Michael Byrne), that they are criminals fleeing Allied authorities. To keep Schroeder from opening Miller's suitcase, Mallory convinces him that it is filled with a "new" drug called penicillin, which can only be opened in a laboratory. The next morning, Schroeder reveals that he has opened Miller's case. To everyone's surprise, the German finds only firewood. Mallory and Barnsby improvise, "admitting" they buried the samples. Schroeder sends them to retrieve them, under the guard of his concubine, Maritza (Barbara Bach), and three of his soldiers, while Miller, Weaver and Reynolds are left in a cell in the camp. Once far enough from camp, Maritza kills the Germans, revealing herself to be a partisan spy. She directs them towards the partisans under the command of her father, Major Petrovich (Alan Badel). Mallory and Barnsby escape, ambushing and killing two of Drazak's Chetniks - men bandaged to hide burns from flamethrowers. Eventually, the two meet a patrol of real Yugoslav Partisans led by a man Mallory recognizes as his target – Captain Lescovar, AKA Nicolai. While Mallory assumes that Lescovar has recognized him, he and Barnsby are nevertheless taken to the partisans. Blindfolded for much of the journey, Mallory and Barnsby both realize their location when they recognize a wide river and a large hydroelectric dam near the Partisan camp. Skeptical, Major Petrovich dismisses Mallory's story about Lescovar being Nicolai - assuring Mallory that they had executed the real 'Nicolai' months earlier. He reproves the men for killing the bandaged Chetniks, as the men were partisan infiltrators in the Chetnik camp and his only link to Maritza. Petrovich's principle worry is an impending assault by the Wehrmacht. The German's are marshaling their forces nearby, and only a ravine separates them from the outnumbered partisans. Only a single concrete arch bridge links each side of the ravine, but the partisans have been unable to destroy it. Convinced that no bridge is impregnable, Barnsby reveals that this bridge is in fact Force 10's target. Knowing Miller's expertise in demolitions, Mallory convinces a reluctant Petrovich to help mount a rescue mission using Lescovar and the Partisan Marko (Petar Buntic). The four re-enter the camp at night, Mallory and Barnsby posing as captives and the partisans disguised as the bandaged men. Before they complete their mission, Drazak arrives with the bodies of the real bandaged men and, since Maritza had always been seen with them, concludes she was a partisan as well. A gun battle breaks out in the cell block. Schroeder and Reynolds are killed, but Mallory, Barnsby, Miller, Weaver, Lescovar and Marko escape in a truck with a badly beaten Maritza and the recovered explosives. Having made it to the Partisans, Miller gives Barnsby and Mallory bad news – the bridge really is impregnable to explosives. Mallory hits upon the idea of destroying the upstream dam they saw earlier, with the sudden onrush of several millions of gallons of water being enough to tear down the structure. A night time air drop is arranged to replace Force 10's lost supplies, but Lescovar sabotages the air drop by calling in German planes. Maritza spots Lescovar betraying the partisans, but is killed by the turncoat before she can warn the others. German planes bomb the illuminated drop zone. For Petrovich, the botched air drop is the last straw, and he orders the men to be sent to Marshall Tito's headquarters for transport back to Italy. The team decides to go instead to the German marshaling yards at Mostar, where they can get the explosives they need. With stolen German uniforms and Lescovar and Marko in their company, the men infiltrate the supply area. Lescovar again betrays them alerting a German sergeant to their presence, identifying himself as Col. Von Ingorsleben, Abwehr Special Field Intelligence Group. Marko overhears the plan and guns down the platoon as they move in, at the cost of his own life. The others escape with Lescovar aboard a train leaving for Sarajevo. Lescovar's hasty cover story doesn't fool Mallory or Barnsby; Mallory had noticed a map showing that their train passes within a half-mile of the dam - a fact Lescovar "neglected" to bring up; Barnsby had observed Lescovar's interactions with the German sergeant who, fatally, salutes the other man even though Lescovar's uniform only made him out to be a corporal. Mallory confronts Lescovar with his knowledge, and Barnsby shoots and kills the traitor. 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 Drazak, who is leading a Chetnik patrol, in the woods. The two have a knife fight and, though wounded, Weaver kills the Chetnik. Mallory and Barnsby sneak into the dam to set the charges. With the German assault beginning at dawn - now only minutes away - they are forced to set a short fuse, leaving them no time to escape. Mallory and Barnsby are caught in the explosion, yet nevertheless survive. The dam appears undamaged. Soon, however, the dam begins to disintegrate; with its barely maintained structural integrity disrupted, the dam wall collapses, millions of tons of water cascading from it. At the bridge, the Germans starting to cross when the gigantic wall of water comes down the ravine and topples the bridge. The German assault is thwarted, saving the Partisans. Mallory and Barnsby rejoin Miller and Weaver, but the jubilation is short-lived. Mallory reminds that they're now trapped on the wrong side of the river, with no supplies and no way of contacting or reaching the partisans. As the credits roll, the men begin a strenuous journey back to friendly lines.