I still remember the first time I watched 633 Squadron. At the time I was on a big World War II kick and working my way through every war movie I could find. This one seemed unremarkable on the surface, yet somehow this film made it onto the top 100 war films voted by the UK public(or so says Wikipedia). “An RAF squadron is assigned to knock out a German rocket fuel factory in Norway, which is part of the Nazi effort to lauch rockets on England during D-day, by flying up a well-defended fjord at low level.” from IMDB.com
In a film with poor dialogue, do we blame the writer, the director, or the actor? Cliff Robertson, who won a best actor Oscar for his great performance in Charly, provides a painfully wooden lead as commander of 633 Squadron. George Chakiris, who won also an Oscar(best supporting) for his work in West Side Story, also delivers his lines flat as well. With the poor day-for-night cinematography, the fortune cookie-style faux-heroic quips to end scenes, and the cliches (a guy who wants no attachments falls in love, the moral quandary of sacrificing one man for the good of the mission, the newly-wed man getting horribly maimed, etc.), the odd 1960’s car cropping up in the background, the invasive use of music to fill the dead air between lines of dialogue… I can only conclude that director Walter Grauman was better suited to the television work he was most known for.
So unless you are running out of war films to watch or are doing a Cliff Robertson retrospective… skip 633 Squadron.