This hapless attempt to recreate the success of "The Guns of Navarone" and "The Great Escape" suffers from two fatal flaws.
First, though the subject is a top secret raid by British Mosquito bombers, the producers were limited to four functional airplanes in the starring roles. (Both "functional" and "starring" are relative terms in this context.) A few special effects shots valiantly attempt to "fill" the sky with as many as 12 aircraft, but it's futile.
Second, the plot is every bit as impoverished as the props.
It's 1944. The Germans are about to hit England with a massive rocket attack. (How do the Brits know this? They just do, setting up the many convenient developments to follow.) The obvious way to stop the attacks is to destroy the rocket fuel plant in Norway. And, clearly, the way to accomplish that goal is to blow up the cliffs that protect the place from conventional attacks.
It's up to Wing Commander Roy Grant (a sleepwalking Cliff Robertson) and his flyboys to do the job. Also on hand is George Chakiris as (I swear I am not making this up) Norwegian freedom fighter Erik Bergman. Yes, that Chakiris, fresh from his Oscar-winning performance as Bernardo in "West Side Story," his gleaming black pompadour still intact. This unlikely Norwegian also sports an accent that sounds suspiciously like Natalie Wood's Puerto Rican.
The rest of the far-fetched action is pure '60s hokum. A romance between Grant and Erik's sister Hilde (an impassive Maria Perschy) provides a tepid unfinished subplot. The only time the film threatens to become interesting is when a blonde Teutonic torturess shows up, but that's over almost before it begins.
The real point of this kind of movie is the flying scenes and these don't measure up. The aerial footage is engaging at first but soon becomes repetitive. Again, the lack of working aircraft is the source of the problem. For a similar story handled with infinitely more energy, passion and imagination, find a copy of "The Blue Max."
The disc was made from original elements that have been fairly well maintained. On both the full frame and widescreen versions, colors are grainy (particularly in the effects shots), but no more than anyone should expect from a war film of this vintage. Faint vertical scratches are intermittent, along with occasional variations in color and almost imperceptible, widely scattered registration hiccups.
Dolby mono is unexceptional.
A trailer is the only extra.
Writer James Clavell was involved with several of the key films of the 1960s—"The Great Escape," "To Sir With Love," "King Rat." This one is the weakest.