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Director Lewis Gilbert--who previously helmed Sink the Bismarck! (1960)--strikes a good balance between the personal drama and sweeping maritime adventure. Guinness successfully varies his firm-but-fair officer from The Bridge on the River Kwai, Bogarde is chillingly hateful and Anthony Quayle gives strong support. ITV's recent Hornblower cumulatively offers a more detailed portrait of the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars, though the TV series cannot match the visual scale of this big-screen production.
On the DVD: HMS Defiant is presented anamorphically enhanced at 2.35:1, though a little of the original CinemaScope frame is still cropped at the sides. The image is generally very good, though a handful of scenes near the end show considerable print damage and there is an inconstancy of colour grading between some shots. Grain is variable, but not generally a problem, though some unattractive "ringing" from edge enhancement is noticeable, particularly around Alex Guinness when he stands against a bright sky. The sound is in very clear mono with just occasional distortion on the music score. The disc offers the option of watching with dubbed French, German, Italian or Spanish soundtracks. The original trailer is included--under the American title of Damn the Defiant!--as are trailers for three other classic war films. The only other extra features are a small gallery of original publicity materials and three very basic filmographies. --Gary S Dalkin
Languages in Mono: English, French, Italian, Spanish
Languages in LCR: German
Subtitles: Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
2.35:1 Aspect Ratio Enhanced for 16:9 Widescreen TVs