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Saturday, June 25, 2011

633 SQUADRON (1964)

Made during the heyday of WWII ‘impossible mission’ pics (like THE GUNS OF NAVARONE/’61; HEROES OF TELEMARK/’65; WHERE EAGLES DARE/’69), this rare feature from prolific tv megger Walter Grauman tells a heroic, fact-inspired tale of an R.A.F. raid on a top-secret Nazi factory hidden in the Norwegian fiords. (Hey, could this be the same ‘heavy-water’ factory that was the mission target in TELEMARK?) Cliff Robertson, just out of a Navy uniform in yet another WWII mission pic (he was JFK in PT 109/’63), seems weary of battle, or perhaps weary of his disinterested love interest, Maria Perschy. But they’re both more plausible than George Chakiris as her brother, a Norwegian(!) resistance fighter. The film is handsomely shot by Ted Scaife and has a fine pedigree in scripters Howard Koch & James Clavell though it's a paint-by-the-numbers gig. But the effects are variable (even the strafing looks fake) and Ron Goodwin’s over-active score, which sports a catchy, pulsating main theme (a tarantella!), has been given a very odd, up-front acoustic. Still, even second-drawer WWII adventure yarns boast dramatic tropes that just won’t quit.

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