633 Squadron (1964)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Combat Films  |   Release Date - Jun 4, 1964 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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The Mirisch brothers practically cornered the market on big-budget World War II movies during the 1960s, between The Great Escape and Battle of Britain. But not every production (or story) was big enough to carry (or justify) and all-star cast of the sort employed in those epics -- they got more modest treatment and theatrical roll-out, and subsequently much less august presentations on television. Walter Grauman's 633 Squadron, starring Cliff Robertson, George Chakiris, and Harry Andrews, was one such vehicle (another was Mosquito Squadron, made four years later), a more modest, almost vest-pocket production that was clearly headed toward television fairly fast (and, consequently, not shot anamorphically). Robertson, Chakiris, Andrews, and the rest of the cast give the acting chores 100%, but somehow the whole thing looks rushed and threadbare, especially after we've seen some less-than-convincing model work depicting the climactic raid. The ambiguous ending doesn't help, either, and the entire movie is more a reminder of better-mounted, more ambitious productions by the same makers and others than a satisfying experience in and of itself. 633 Squadron used to be relegated to movie showcases such as CBS's "Late Movie" (during that period in the 1970s when the network had ceased trying to mount a challenge to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show), but in 2011 resurfaced on The Military Channel as part of that outlet's film showcase series, in tandem with pictures such as PT 109, Tora, Tora, Tora etc., all mostly done on a bigger scale. The film's most memorable element, Ron Goodwin's stirring main title theme, has been re-recorded by the BBC Philharmonic and Rumon Gamba on the Chandos label.