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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Blu-ray|Change
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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.
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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]
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on 4 November 2013
I had seen the original film when it came out, but decided to buy it again, since I enjoyed it the first time around. This time though, I had gone to (Rhodes in Greece) and a particular cliff that was used in the film as the place that Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Stanley Baker and Anthony Quayle and their companions had 'climbed' in the film, I visited whilst on a tour of part of Rhodes. This brought back all of the genre of the film and seeing this film again renewed the love of the acting and the film's 'take' of a particular event in history, based on a true story. Brilliant Film!
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on 15 July 2017
Brilliant just brilliant. I love this film, some very brilliant actors in this movie and all are sadly not with us anymore. The ending is my favourite to hear those ships makes me cry every time I watch it.
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on 22 September 2016
One of the very best war films made. Excellent acting.
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on 11 January 2017
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on 7 March 2017
This is simply a must have in Blu-Ray. A classic Movie for all to see.
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on 12 July 2017
Bought to replace video version. An excellent film brilliantly acted.
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on 19 March 2017
Great DVD and good value for money
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on 20 June 2017
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