This true story follows the exploits of a top secret British military mission to destroy Nazi radio ships in a neutral harbor during WWII. The daring plan is led by British Intelligence officers Col. Lewis Pugh (Gregory Peck) and Capt. Gavin Stewart (Roger Moore). Since the ships are in neutral territory the British Military command, while encouraging the scheme, must deny any knowledge of it if it fails. Pugh & Stewart enlist the aid of retired officer Col. Bill Grice (David Niven) & some of his former soldiers. On the pretext of being on a fishing expedition, these seemingly drunken old men in civilian clothing must board & destroy 3 Nazi ships, whose radio transmissions have resulted in Nazi submarines sinking allied ships. While Stewart arranges a diversion on shore, Pugh & Grice carry out the dangerous raid on and destruction of the Nazi ships.
I have to admit that I am probably a bit biased when it comes to this movie which sometimes is referred to as The Last Charge of The Calcutta Light Horse by the way. It is a classical war movie that I saw, and liked, as a kid. It also has several of my favorite actors since I was a kid in it. So needless to say I really do like this movie.
When re-watching it yesterday I really enjoyed seeing characters like Gregory Peck and David Niven again. They are part of a time when movie characters could be funny, strong and quite macho without being totally overdone and foul-mouthed. David Niven as well as a few of the other characters are just great with their British “stiff upper lip” attitude and British humor.
The story is a rather classical World War 2 adventure story even though it is based on an actual event. Most of the movie is the initial spy-adventure with Gregory Peck and Roger Moore followed by the preparations and boat ride into the neutral harbor of Goa. These are really the best part of the movie where the characters are really making the movie.
When the action starts at the end of the movie the characters themselves kind of get hidden behind the action which, quite frankly, is not top quality. Like many older movies these parts are a bit cartoonish, illogical and certainly not very realistic. The special effects are also, not surprisingly, up to modern standards. I never figured out what the German captain really expected to achieve with oil drums on the deck by the way. I guess it made some nice fiery scenes at the end though.
For me, watching this movie again yesterday, that was two very enjoyable hours.