Guns of Navarone" on DVD
Special Edition Oscar-Winning
One of the classic war adventure
movies has received a loving restoration onto DVD, courtesy of Columbia Tristar
The Guns of Navarone, based
on the novel by Alistair Maclean, is a big budget, all-star tale in the grand
Hollywood tradition. It stars Gregory Peck, David Niven, and Anthony Quinn as
the central figures in a small group of commandos sent to infiltrate a Nazi
fortress on an occupied Greek Island to destroy a pair of huge guns that are
wreaking havoc on shipping and keeping His Majesty's navy from rescuing a couple
of thousand soldiers hunkered down on a nearby island.
Anthony Quayle is the group's
leader, but on their initial assault of the island, a harrowing climb up a tall
and steep cliff, he's badly injured and spends the rest of the movie being dragged
around on a stretcher, putting the rest of his colleagues into constant danger.
Forced to take command, Peck does his best, though it never seems enough - especially
when it becomes obvious that someone close to them has been feeding the Nazi
troops information about them.
The cast is terrific. Peck
is appropriately stoic and paternal as the reluctant leader. David Niven, as
an explosive expert who marches to his own drum, and Anthony Quinn, as the hot
blooded Greek who's death on two legs, are equal to their tasks. The supporting
cast, including Quayle, James Darren, Stanley Baker, Irene Paps, and Gia Scala,
also turn in believable performances.
Guns of Navarone won an
Oscar for its special effects, and the climactic scene of the guns' destruction
is indeed "effective." This scene received most of the effects publicity, but
the film's full of scenes that require various types of effects - from the climb
up the cliff to other scenes best left undescribed lest they spoil your enjoyment.
The restoration not only
gave the picture a new lease on life (compare the footage to what's in the trailer
to see how much they've improved it), but also remixed the original stereo audio
into Dolby Digital 5.1 (you can also partake of the original stereo mix if you
want). There isn't a lot of surround in the remix, but what's there is extremely
effective, especially during the airplane attack.
The digitally mastered widescreen
picture looks great. If the actors weren't all so much older now - or dead -
you'd think Guns of Navarone was much newer than 1961. Well, you can tell its
vintage by the fact that the violence is more implied than graphic, and that
when there was an opportunity to have a woman strip to the waist they chose
only to reveal her back. The film also has that old fashioned color look - but
that's not a bad thing.
Ah, the good old days!
The digitally remastered
audio, considering the film's age, is very good, and if you're watching the
"5.1 channel" version, you'll be happy to have a subwoofer.
Extras include a running
audio commentary from director J. Lee Thompson, a retrospective documentary
featuring Thompson and surviving cast members. There are also four featurettes,
and a "message from Carl Foreman" that was recorded in England for the film's
Australian premier. Standard extras like a decent liner essay, talent files,
production notes, trailers, chapters, and the usual subtitle/languages choices
round out a complete and welcome package.
The Guns of Navarone, Special
Edition, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
157 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle, James Darren,
Stanley Baker, Irene Papas, Gia Scala.
Written and Produced by Carl Foreman
Directed by J. Lee Thompson
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