Last night we got together with a few friends to watch what a couple of them (both male) had suggested was the “greatest movie of all time.” Of course, they were both drunk when they made the proclamation, and they hadn’t seen the movie since the late ’70s when it came out and they were teenagers. The movie? Force 10 from Navarone. Good thing we had plenty of wine.
Offering a serious critique of this movie is like writing a culinary review of Shrek Twinkies. It’s so bad, you wonder whether writing a review is even worth the effort. This movie was actually great fun to watch (especially while drinking heavily) because it was so ridiculous that we never felt bad offering up a lame joke or asking a question (“Was Barbara Bach in Dukes of Hazzard?” “No, that was Catherine Bach”). In addition to containing one of the worst war films ever made, the DVD we had was also hampered by a bug that made it impossible to disable the “subtitle” feature. We could choose between French and Spanish, but were unable to turn them off completely. This did have the somewhat questionable benefit of allowing us to bone up on our French during the film’s dull moments, but it also reminded me of one of my biggest pet peeves: When the film is letterboxed you can actually use that black band at the bottom of the screen to place your subtitles, instead of pasting them all over Harrison Ford’s handsome mug (or Barbara Bach’s nubile body, depending on your preference).
–When Carl Weathers has forced his way onto Force 10’s plane, one of the group suggests they should inform the Colonel of the incursion. Robert Shaw discourages him by saying “don’t you think he’s got enough on his plate just now?” That’s right, the commander of the top-secret mission doesn’t need to know that a criminal has stowed away on their escape plane.
–You know the movie was made in the ’70s when: 1. we see Barbara Bach totally nude, 2. she gets killed, 3. the black conscript stands up to the white colonel and demands to be treated with respect, 4. the soundtrack sounds vaguely like Star Wars, 5. MPs are depicted as bad guys.
–For a post-Star Wars film, the special effects were exceedingly bad, even worse than I remember from The Guns of Navarone, made 17 years earlier. Lowlights: 1. The decapitation. I’ve done better with a Ken doll and the Barbie Convertible Mustang. 2. Fight scenes. Punches are missed by several feet; there is a notable delay between the punch “connecting” and the reaction from the “victim.” 3. The dam burst. This was clearly filmed with a hose in someone’s back yard. You can see the chips of bark floating in the sorry excuse for an overflowing creek created by the alleged unleashing of millions of tons of water. The point is supposed to be to knock down the “indestructible” bridge. It was hilarious to watch the Nazis cowering in fear as water pooled at the bottom of the bridge. The bridge has barely started to budge when a tank inexplicably tumbles off the edge. What? Minor flooding causes experienced Nazi tank drivers to suddenly veer 90 degrees off course?
–The film ends with the team celebrating a successful mission. Then Robert Shaw points out that they’re on the wrong side of the river. Oops! how’d they get there? Looking at the film, they’re on the left-hand side. The same side they’ve always been on. Why is this suddenly the Nazi side? Shaw shrugs and says “I guess we’ve got a long walk, men.” Where are they walking? Deeper into Nazi territory? Why? We don’t know. Now they’re rolling the credits. Is there any more wine?