Behind the Camera on THE GUNS OF NAVARONE
The film's initial $2 million budget rose quickly thanks to the rigors of location shooting, including filming in areas that were only accessible by donkey and the need to hire 1,000 Greek soldiers to play the German army.
For the scenes set on the Aegean, the company rented a 55-foot boat, the Maria, from local fishermen.
For shots of the British Navy sailing the Aegean, the production rented battleships from the Greek Navy, even though all of their ships at the time were surplus U.S. ships.
Throughout shooting, Peck suggested re-writes to Foreman that would deepen Peck's character. Most of his ideas made it into The Guns of Navarone.
During shooting, Peck and David Niven became close friends, bonding initially over Peck's ability to consume vast quantities of brandy, which the actors used to stay warm while filming in a cold studio tank, without muffing a line. Their families visited each other frequently in later years, and Peck would deliver the eulogy at Niven's funeral.
The last sequence shot of The Guns of Navarone was the actual setting of the bombs by Gregory Peck and David Niven. With three days left to shoot, Niven was felled by an infection from a split lip sustained shooting in the studio tank. As doctors tried to identify the infection so they could treat it effectively, the production ground to a halt for a month. Finally, Niven defied his doctors' orders and returned to the set to finish the film before he had fully recovered. The relapse that resulted put him in the hospital for seven weeks.
To create a title song for the film, Paul Francis Webster created lyrics for Dimitri Tiomkin's title music. The song, which sums up the film's action, is performed over the final credits by Mitch Miller's Chorus.
The Guns of Navarone opened June 12, 1961 in two New York theatres, the Criterion and the Murray Hill, and quickly became a box-office hit.
For British prints, Richard Harris' use of the word "bloody" was replaced with "ruddy."
Columbia Pictures sold The Guns of Navarone with the tag line "An impregnable fortress...An invincible army...and the unstoppable commando team."
by Frank Miller