18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
The Guns of Navarone is one of the best of the 'Boys own' style war movies I've ever seen. The plot is simple. Two giant cannon on the isle of Navarone are sinking all the allied shipping passing through an important bit of the Aegean. Six ships on the way to evacuate another island before the 2000 troops on that island are wiped out in a devastating German attack will pass through soon, before they arrive a team of commandos have to penetrate the German fortress on Navarone and spike the guns. A nice simple premise, around which is hung a magnificent tale.
THe script is quite intelligent for this type of war movie. I've always liked it as it seemed a bit more 'grown up' than most. The heroes are presented as real people, with their own fears and moral doubts about what they are doing. They even have qualms about killing enemy soldiers at times. Though one of the German officers is presented as the typical comic book villainous Gestapo officer, most of the other enemy characters are shown in an almost sympathetic light, especially Oberst Meusel, played by Walter Gotell.
This is an all star production, with 6 or 7 really big names on screen. The director manages to give them all plenty of screen time, and there is a very balanced feel between the performances. Outstanding is David Niven as Miller, in what I consider to be one of the best performances of his career (right up there with 'A Matter Of Life And Death'). For once he doesn't play his standard character, the laid back urbane English socialite, but presents us with a very real character, with a fear of 'being responsible', a dry wit and shrewd intelligence. The scenes where he clashes with Gregory Peck's implacable team leader, Mallory, over his treatment of Miller's close friend, are the best in the film.
Peck is superb in the lead role. A man who will do whatever is necessary to 'get the job done', whether he likes it or not. Not just the stern unbending hero though, this is obviously a compassionate man, and the things he has to do, to both friend and foe, obviously take a toll as the film progresses.
The film is quite long at 2.5 hours, but there is plenty of action, plot and character development to keep the interest. It never drags. And the build up to the climactic last few scenes are nail biting.
The special effects won an academy award in the early 60's, and still stand up reasonably well today. they are certainly head and shoulders above any other film I can think of from the time.
This DVD contains a nice print in 2.35:1 widescreen. Some restoration work ahs been done and the picture is of a good quality for its age. The 5.1 surround sound is excellent. There are a range of extras on this disc, the best of which has to be short documentary shot (I think) in the mid 90's with interviews with Peck, Quinn, and Lee Thompson, the director.
For the price being asked this is an excellent package.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2000 allied troops on the fictional island of Kheros in the Aegean Sea will die unless the guns on nearby Navarone can be silenced when six cruisers enter the channel to attempt a rescue in one week's time. But these long-range radar-controlled behemoths (capable of sinking any ship) are atop a 400-foot-high rock precipice that cannot be climbed by man nor beast (so the Germans don't defend the cliff side). After aerial bombing proves unsuccessful/impossible (Richard Harris in his famous 'bloody' or 'ruddy' speech - depending on which version you watch) - as a last ditch attempt a small attack team is organized by British Intelligence head-honcho Jensen (the wonderful James Robertson Justice). Sent in against hopeless odds to do the impossible - Jensen hopes the Gods will favour their mission - they'll strike lucky and sabotage the invincible canons (dialogue above).
This band of pirates and cutthroats consists of Keith Mallory (Gregory Peck), an American Officer with climbing experience known as The Human Fly, Colonel Andrea - a veteran and cunning leader of the Greek resistance (Anthony Quinn) with a bad-blood history between him and Mallory, an English munitions genius Captain Miller (David Niven), Mallory's pal British Officer Franklin (Anthony Quail) and cold-blooded knife and gun-killers Pappadimos and Brown (James Darren and Stanley Baker).
Soon they're all on a battered tug dressed as humble fishermen heading towards the island in daylight to climb the cliffs under cover of darkness. But a German patrol boat pulls up alongside and the motley crew make mincemeat of them. Once on the island of Navarone - they meet up with two resistance fighters - the older Maria and the mute Anna (tortured so badly by the Nazis she can't speak and bears the lashes on her back to prove it). But right from the get-go - things start to go ominously wrong. Officer Franklin breaks his leg on the wet slopes of the climb and will need medical attention (but may tell the Germans what they want to know even if he can't help himself). And someone appears to be giving away their position no matter where they hide or evade trucks of troops looking for them...
The BLU RAY picture Aspect Ratio is defaulted to 1.85:1 so the frame fills the entire screen. But right from the opening - the picture quality is a very mixed bag indeed. Although this is the 'restored' version - the quality fluctuates wildly - so while the film is five stars - the picture quality is somewhere between 3 and 5. The spoken Prologue on Greece looks rubbish - but when the actual credits roll - the frames are immaculate. But then as Peck steps out of a jeep in the darkness to meet Jensen to be debriefed - the grain kicks in. On the boat there - it looks fabulous. During the wedding sequence on the island the picture is gorgeous. But in between those moments is the opposite - awful swarms of fuzzy grain - when they first arrive at the Greek island - during the storm sequence when the boat breaks up. And a lot of the post-production special effects explosions look decidedly hammy and amateur - exposed by the extra definition. In short - don't expect miracles from the print on this one - just enjoy the daring do - and a group of actors who somehow embodied the very spirit of greatness that brought us through the war and into freedom.
The Extras (exclusive to BLU RAY) are comprehensive and pleasing - featuring interviews with Director Carl Foreman and all the principal actors describing their time on the islands - 3 Documentaries and 8 Featurettes. And the card wrap slipcase on the outside of these 'Collectors Series' issues gives them a very classy feel and look.
Audio is English 5.1 (Original Language) DTS-HD Ma, German 5.1, Italian 5.1, Japanese 5.1 and Spanish 5.1. Subtitles are Danish, English, English For The Hard Of Hearing, Finnish, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish
"The Guns Of Navarone" has endured for more than fifty years and like "The Great Escape", "The Battle Of Britain" and "The Bridge On The River Kwai" holds a special place in our hearts still.
In the prologue Jensen says, "Its heroes are not demigods...but ordinary men..."
Perhaps that's why we adore it so...
PS: Although it doesn't say so on anywhere on the outer artwork - this `UK' BLU RAY release is part of the "Sony Collectors Series". Here are the other titles - all of which are numbered on the spine - and come in generic `slipcases' with a blue band on top and a gold stripe set against a white card sleeve:
1. Taxi Driver (35th Anniversary Edition) (1976)
2. The Bridge On The River Kwai (Collectors Edition) (1957)
3. Stand By Me (25th Anniversary Edition) (1986)
4. Gandhi (2 Disc Special Edition) (1982)
5. Easy Rider (Special Edition) (1969)
6. Midnight Express (Special Edition) (1978)
7. Boyz N The Hood (20th Anniversary Edition) (1991)
8. Das Boot (2 Disc Director's Cut) (1981)
9. The Guns Of Navarone (50th Anniversary Edition) (1961)
10. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (2 Disc Special Edition) (1977)
11. Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (Special Edition) (1964)
12. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (Special Edition) (2000)
13. The Caine Mutiny (Special Edition) (1954)
14. Lawrence Of Arabia (50th Anniversary Edition) (1962)
15. Bram Stoker's Dracula (Special Edition) (1993)
16. Groundhog Day (Special Edition) (1993) [See REVIEW]
17. Glory (Special Edition) (1990) [see REVIEW for "Mastered In 4K" release]
18. From Here To Eternity (Anniversary Edition) (1953)
19. The Remains Of The Day (Anniversary Edition) (1993) [see REVIEW]
56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2001
Gregory Peck plays Mallory, the worlds greatest living mountaineer, linguist and commandoe, picked along with Anthony Quin, to escort a group of sabotuers onto Navarone, where terrifying anti-shipping guns are impeding the rescue of a British garrison. When the vessel sinks in a storm, Mallory is compelled by fate to join and ultimately lead the deadly mission, stirring stuff indeed and highly enjoyable to boot. All of the characters are flawed in that wonderful Great Escape way. Instead of a claustrophobic miner, we get the knief man who's lost his taste for killing. No blind forger hear but a man who's closest comrade will kill him at the end of the war. There's good Germans and bad Germans, a traitor in the camp, Anthony Quayle with gangreen, romance and a surprise ending(well sort of). My personal favourite is where Messrs. Peck and Niven appear to share a cigarette of dubious nature in the closing moments of the film!
This film is a classic, and has always been well regarded, but is it worth buying on DVD? Now to be fair this movie is long in the tooth, and has long been the staple fair of Sunday matinees and video-store bargain bins. So is it worth forking out for? Simple answer:yes!
Long answer: Aside from a great tranfer, where the day-for-night shots are printed as night,its in widescreen, with Dolby digital sound! To boot, there is a plethora of extras. Not many forty year old movies come with a directors' commentary, but this does. As J. Lee Thompson was a studio gun-for-hire, this was just another job rather than a personal obsession, so dont expect great personal insights. For me the real goodies are the bizarre promo films thrown in for good measure. Publicity films date faster than calenders and theses are excellently silly, fun, pathe style newsreels. Worth a look if only to see Peck playing football with war-orphans in Nazi regalia, and check out the gals shopping. This is capped with an indepth making of, based around lenghty interviews with Peck, Quin and Thompson. Some great personal reflections.
Fans of this movie will need not my recommendation, but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and all the bonus material. Two thumbs up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2009
I won't say too much about the film itself, which is approaching 50 years old, except to say that the performances of all the cast appearing in this well executed WWII thriller are extremely high quality. Anthony Quinn, Gregory Peck and David Niven in particular really do act their socks off (Stanley Baker also stands out, despite having less to work with). The actors are helped greatly by a fine script, which only lets itself down during the first 15 minutes with some rather naive moralising from James Robertson Justice, and a shocking "cameo" from Richard Harris, complete with badly judged Australian accent (and some pretty flowery language for the period). However, when the plot starts rolling the combination of excellent dialogue and scorching acting make it very difficult to take your eyes of the screen. In fact, the action scenes struggle to compete with all this finely crafted drama.
It's always good when a classic like this receives a 2 disc special edition, and there's a wonderfully exhaustive library of Documentaries and period Featurettes on the second disc. It was very enjoyable to hear Peck and Quinn reminisce of their time on what appears to have been a happy set, what a shame many of the rest of the cast are no longer with us to share their thoughts.
Interestingly, one of the docs concerns the restoration of the film. I was actually very disappointed with this transfer of The Guns of Navarone, which I thought was grubby, much too grainy, rather gloomy, and also suffered from poor colour and contrast. I've recently seen Ice Station Zebra and Where Eagles Dare on DVD (two other MacLean thrillers from the sixties), and although they've not received a restoration to my knowledge, image quality is strong. The Bond films of the era have of course received stunning restorations using the Lowry digital process, and look wonderful. It is certainly obvious from the doc that a lot of work was done; an improvement is noticeable when comparisons are shown, and they have also corrected a long standing error at the beginning of the film regarding night-time shooting. The doc also makes it clear that the original print was in a very sorry condition. However, I'm not convinced that the restoration has gone far enough.
The new Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is a great success though, with clear, weighty speech, room shaking bass in the action scenes, and also plenty of subtle detail. Dimitri Tiomkin's score sounds wonderful in this re-mastered form, but why remove the Intermission music? It is available as an isolated chapter on the bonus disc, and the restoration doc points out that the film was rarely shown with it included, but I'd prefer to have the choice. After all, if I don't want to hear it I can just skip it.
A flawed release then in my opinion, let down by a restoration that I think is only half successful. Hopefully, with new techniques applied such as Lowry's, a more thorough job can be done in time for its release on Blu-Ray.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2011
my all time favourite war film on blu ray .given the age of the film i was sceptical when i head this was going to be released on blu ray but my worries soon lifted when i started to watch it.from what i have read in a magazine the original negatives for this film were in a very sorry state,worn,scratched,damged,full of dust and marks.well the people that have restored this have done an amazing job,the blu ray transfer is brilliant,they have given the film a new fresh look,ok its not ever going to be the best blu ray ever,and in parts of the film the damage of the print does show,but its very few and far beetween.the high def picture is on the whole very good,colours are good,and the detail is all there,and there faces do not look like they are made of pink plastic,so its not been over processed.for £8 this will be the best value 2hrs and 25 minutes entertainment you will ever get.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2008
Incredible value for the money - the film has been properly restored and the Technicolor looks amazing. Disc two has some nice extras, both of the reminicence-interview type and some unusual B&W featurettes shot at the time. There's also a look at Tiomkin's score and the chance to see and hear the prologue without the narration. Christopher Frayling discusses the film in a way that makes you want to watch it all over again immediately. Heroes, anti-heroes, action, a long, thin thread of melancholy and a beautiful last scene - this has it all.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2012
This film has been around forever and my first copy came from a bargain bin. However the special version is definitely an improvement if less authentic (the night scenes are now realistic which, in the original, they were not), and unusually this release has bonus features.
At the time it came out I think it was Dilys Powell who commented Niven (who himself had a distinguished war service) should never be cast as anything other than an officer, and there are some other enjoyable implausabilities - not least some of the haircuts! Surely there can be no need to summarise the plot, everyone knows the film as a tale of derring do with rather suspiciously bad looking guns sinking into the sea (a scene for me on a par with the awful effect of the dam breaching in The Dam Busters)as our heroes save the day for truth liberty and the Hollywood way. However it is still one of the most enjoyable fims of the era, with so many superb actors clearly at ease with the camera, and well worth the money. I must watch this film at least once a year, usually on wet autumn afternoons and it is as comforting as the stew and fireside that usually accompany it. Perhaps this is because it has a plot, does not rely on CGI, and the actors know how to behave on camera and show generosity to each other.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2008
i sat down to watch the guns of navarone and my initial thought was how dated it now looked but within 15 minutes your up to your eyeballs in total enjoyment , the main cast are all outstanding and this is a true wartime classic that simply gets top marks .
this film alongside -the bridge on the river kwai , von ryans express , the great escape , a bridge too far , and the devils brigade should be the starting point for your wartime collection their all top rate.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2011
Blu-ray all zone
Ratio of the feature film:
Languages of the feature film:
DTS Master Audio 5.1: English
Dolby 5.1: German, Italian, Japanese, Castilian Spanish
Dolby 2.0: 2 commentaries
Subtitles for all the videos:
English, German, Italian, Japanese, Castilian Spanish
Extra subtitles only available for the feature film:
Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Norwegian, Swedish, Turkish and English for Hard of Hearing
Very good picture and sound for this master-piece which was well restored.
A true pleasure to watch this film again in such fantastic conditions.
The colours were corrected and balanced and clearly it makes a difference as explained in the restoration documentary.
Thanks to the Blu-ray, we can not only watch the film with (or without) the intermission as originally released in 1961
With intermission -> 161 minutes
Without intermission -> 156 minutes
But we can also see some details we were not meant to see !
- Model of the island exploding at the end at the film is quite obvious especially when the cannons are falling into the sea.
- We can even see the join of paint on the "wallpaper" imitating the skyline during the explosion scene.
- Pictures added in post-production are not that unobtrusive, for instance the "citadel" of Navarone and the island where the citadel is supposed to be or when the team is supposedly being climbing, for all the shot, the sea was added in post-prod.
- The shadow of the 35 mm camera is visible on the top of the truck when they are escaping (interrogation scene, at 96 min & 50 sec without intermission selected)
Nevertheless, this motion picture is fantastic with a good story-line and some great sceneries of Greece.
You shall not be disappointed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A team of army specialists are assembled with the task of infiltrating a German held Greek island. Then they have to destroy the mighty twin guns up in the hills that blight the British operations on the Aegean waters.
Adapted from the Alistair MacLean novel, it's directed by J. Lee Thompson and stars Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle, Stanley Baker and James Darren. Music is scored by Dimitri Tiomkin and cinematography by Oswald Morris.
Watching it now it seems oh so very formulaic, but it was rarely the norm back than for war films to always follow this brand of high end adventure staples. The makers take a bunch of men from the various social spectrum and thrust them together for an impossible mission. We have the stiff backed guys with moral reasoning at their core, the rough and tumble men, all face fuzz and machismo seeping from every pore, and a young baby faced youngster blossoming into a man by the day.
They will be put through the mangler at regular intervals, faced with scenarios to test their metal, all while the group view each other with suspicions of motives and reasonings. Here the character sub-plots, their hang-ups and frets, do not bog down the fun or the excitement, they enhance the narrative. We also get two ladies entering the group (Irene Papas/Gia Scala), and they too add some meat into an already beefy stew.
Action is a plenty, suspense equally so. While of course there's twists and turns to input some mystery and pot boiling character dynamics. Elsewhere, Tiomkin provides a robust Golden Globe Winning score, and Bill Warrington & Chris Greenham's special effects won the Academy Award in that department; they look at times a bit weak now, but who cares right? The array of screen work, matte paintings and miniatures blend superbly with the outdoor location photography, which points us to a time when film makers worked their socks off to create the magic up there on the screen. Oh and the scripted dialogue, just wonderful and beating an intelligent heart.
One of the quintessential boy's own - men on a mission movies, The Guns of Navarone, still a treat over 50 years since it was first shown in cinemas, and crucially, it's still influencing other film makers as well. 9/10