18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Comprehensive extras, but restoration is only partially successful,
This review is from: The Guns Of Navarone (Special Edition) [DVD]  (DVD)
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.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Jan 2010 16:15:10 GMT
i think your certainly right , i have got the dvd and its a little grainy in parts but i just saw some of the film broadcast on terrestrial tv and the picture was crystal clear , the dvd should be of better quality .
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Feb 2010 07:30:11 GMT
K. O'Leary says:
Actually, having just read a little more about the film's restoration on the net, I don't believe there's much else that can be done to improve its image. This appears to be the fault of Columbia who, with the typical short-sightedness of the media post war, treated and stored the film in a particularly shoddy manner. The excellent sound is courtesy of original elements belonging to a private collector.
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