The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Columbia Pictures - 1961
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 156 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin Simplified), Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), Dutch, English (UK), English (US), French (Parisian), Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish (Latin Am), Thai
Starring: Stanley Baker, Allan Cuthbertson, James Darren, Bryan Forbes, Richard Harris, David Niven, Irene Papas, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quayle, Anthony Quinn, John Robertson-Justice, Gia Scala, Michael Trubshawe
Directed by: J. Lee Thompson
Music by: Brian Tyler
Written by: Alistair MacLean (novel), Carl Foreman (screenplay)
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 18, 2011
" An impregnable fortress... An invincible army... and the unstoppable commando team."
A British team is sent to cross occupied Greek territory and destroy the massive German gun emplacement that commands a key sea channel.
My Take:Considered one of the best action/adventure films ever made, "The Guns of Navarone" stars Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn and David Niven. They are part of an elite team that are given an impossible mission. The mission is to sneak onto an Nazi occupied island off the coast of Greece and blow up two powerful guns that have a strategic stronghold on the only evacuation point for 2,000 trapped British soldiers.
"The Guns of Navarone" was nominated for seven academy awards in 1961, including Best picture, only to to lose out to "West Side Story". It did win Golden Globe Awards best Drama award. It was written for the screen by Blacklisted screenwriter Carl Foreman (The Bridge on the River Kwai) after spending most of the 50's working in anonymity and based on a novel by Alistair MacLean (Force 10 from Navarone, Ice Station Zebra).
What I found a bit tough was the simplicity of the story and the films length of two and a half hours. Thankfully its big action pieces, very good looking (for the time) effects, great locations and a wonderful cast made passing the time easy. As the team moves from obstacle to obstacle on the way to infiltrating the German island, tension and intrigue arise, keeping the linearity of the plot more interesting. The character development and interplay was perfect, and Gregory Peck played every situation spot on while Anthony Quinn added a great counterbalance to Pecks stoic Captian Keith Mallory. Fans of the film will love this Blu-ray release, those yet to see it should enjoy its amazing acting, which we don't get enough of in action films of these days.
Rated PG for intense sequences of violence and action, sexual content and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
At first I was a bit disappointed with what I was seeing on screen as the image was a bit soft and did have spikes of noise. Then I remembered reading of the painstaking efforts that went into restoring this film, as it was supposedly in terrible shape. You can also find out more about this in the special feature "Epic Restoration". Considering its age and the condition of the master, the more impressive certain elements became. First off is the lack of scratches, pops or any film related age induced artifacting. Yes there was a healthy dose of film grain, as well there should be. Black Levels were spot on and didn't crush or waiver, showing off all information in the shadows. Then there were these random times where foreground images seemed separated from the background, showing a depth I bet has not been seen on this film for many years. Sometimes the general softness was replaced by some definition that was unexpected like the details on the rocks when the team is scaling the mountain to textures on clothing in the bright and detailed Greek town scene. Like that scene, colors were impressively vivid in the brighter daytime scenes, but in the night time things seemed a bit on the colder side. Flesh tones varied by local, but usually faired a bit warm. Don't expect the definition of a modern film, thought not having seen the DVD of the film, I do believe it safe to say you have not owned a version that looked this good.
The DTS-HD MA track is not comparable to modern day action films, though it does fair well, especially considering its 50 year age. Dynamics, LFE and surround elements are not what we are used to, and over all things are a bit thin. Thankfully the front sound-stage sounds great and all dialogue is discernible. The score comes across the most dynamic of all elements, which I appreciated as Dimitri Tiomkin's (It's a Wonderful Life) score was amazing. This is a very passable track and there was care given to the recorded elements, and like the video, I assume it's the best you have heard it.
- Feature Commentary with Director J. Lee Thompson
- Commentary with Film Historian Stephen J. Rubin
- (HD) HD Featurettes: No Visitors, Great Guns & The Resistance Dossier which includes- Military Fact or Fiction, The Greek Resistance, The Navarone Effect, The Old School Wizardry of 'The Guns of Navarone,' The Real World Guns of Navarone, and World War II in the Greek Islands.
- SD Featurettes: Epic Restoration, Honeymoon on Rhodes, Message from Carl Foreman, Narration-free Prologue, Roadshow Intermission, Two Girls On The Town, A Heroic Score
- Ironic Epic of Heroism
- Memories of Navarone Retrospective Documentary
- Forging the Guns of Navarone: Notes from the Set
Don't expect audio and video quality of a modern release, as the source elements of "The Guns of Navarone" don't lend to that type of A/V quality. For its 50 year age it looks great, and will surprise fans of this classic WWII epic. Sony packed this release with many extras and 2 commentary tracks; you will definitely get mileage out of this disc. Fans of the film will love this Blu-ray release, those yet to see it should enjoy its amazing acting, which we don't get enough of in action films of these days.
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Lee is right about the level of the acting, particularly Anthony Quinn who is as good a Greek here as he was as "Zorba" a few years later. David Niven and Anthony Quayle where real commandos during World War 2. Niven's charachter in "Navarone" was completely different than his real life. Dimitri Tiomkin's score is epic in itself and makes "The Guns of Navarone" bigger and better. If you are a fellow Baby Boomer, run out and get this masterpiece from our youth. This leaves "Lawrence of Arabia" as the only great adventure from that era that isn't on some form of Blu-Ray.
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Your review makes it a definite BUY!
In restorations and transfers, is any consideration ever given to trying to correct it? Or is that some combination of impossible and historically sinful?
It was also amusing to learn in the supplements that McLean based his "Force 10" sequel, not on the original "Guns of" novel, but on the movie. Was that because he liked what the script had done with his novel, or because we was planning another move rights payday?
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