The Guns of Navarone (Blu-ray)
I enjoy the opportunity see old classics that I have always heard about yet have never seen. I’m thankful that I can now cross THE GUNS OF THE NAVARONE off my list. Starring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn, the film follows a team of six military experts on a secret mission to destroy a large German gun that controls a devastating guard on the sea.
One can never go wrong with a good team of allied soldiers. After Maj. Franklin (Anthony Quayle) is mortally injured early in the mission, Capt. Mallory (Peck) becomes in charge. He is ruthless but fair and the only man with the skills to climb a dangerous cliff entering the target. Col. Starvos (Quinn) is his right hand man with a fearless edge when killing enemy soldiers. Adding tension and deeper character relations to the story, Starvos has made a promise to kill his friend Mallory when the war ends for allowing his family to be murdered. Cpl Miller (Niven) has his moral opposition against the war but is vital as the technical explosives man. Rounding out the group is Pvt. Butcher (Stanley Baker) a knife smith and Pvt. Pappadimos (James Darren) who is a Greek native and has a sister Maria (Irene Papas) and her friend Anna (Gia Scala) as part of a secret resistance helping the team once they arrive on the island.
With such a big production for an older film there are some obvious flaws. Such as poor continuity, questionable accents and unbelievable occurrences to further our team on their mission. But I don’t mind overlooking that because THE GUNS OF THE NAVARONE takes us on an entertaining journey with several interesting and developed characters. Plus, with its grand production venturing through many locations of caves, cliffs and sea, it became quite the technical achievement.
To be honest, my familiarity to the film comes from a quote by Jewels played by Samuel L. Jackson in PULP FICTION. “… Every time my fingers touch brain, I’m Superfly T.N.T., I’m the Guns of the Navarone!…” Obviously the quote is a bit longer but due to profanity before and after this line I had to cut it short. So I can thank Quentin Tarantino for writing a line that first educated me on the existence of THE GUNS OF THE NAVARONE. However, my love for the Academy Awards and dedication to seeing all nominated films furthered my interest.
The Academy Awards nominated the 1961 film for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Score, Sound and Editing. And it won for Best Special Effects. Losing to WEST SIDE STORY for Best Picture it was also nominated against THE HUSTLER.
The film is a little long with a running time of 158 minutes but it never lingers. And with this magnificent Blu-ray release, I can safely say the film has improved from its original look. Fans of THE GUNS OF THE NAVARONE will definitely want this Blu-ray edition in their collection.
Video: (1989p High Definition 2.35:1) The picture restoration is marvelous. It never looked better than it does on Blu-ray.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD MA) The sound is also masterfully restored, utilizing the surround sound fully, hearing every gun shot, explosion and crystal clear dialogue.
The Resistance Dossier of Navarone: This is an interesting interactive feature using text, video and interviews, full of historic facts and similarities the film had with wartime. However, they fully admit this film has nearly no historical accuracy.
Commentary with Film Historian Stephen J. Rubin: I’m huge fan of listening to historians because they are huge fans of the film. Therefore their passion comes out and know what other fans will or will not find interesting. Between the two commentaries, I definitely recommend this one.
Commentary with Director J. Lee Thompson: The late Thompson is extremely old when he recorded this commentary and it shows. He speaks very slowly and plainly. He has long pauses sometimes stating the obvious or at least nothing that you won’t learn from other places on this magnificent Blu-ray. For avid filmmakers he does share a lot of technicalities of how the film shots were laid out.
Documentaries: If you are a big fan of the film than you will thoroughly enjoy theses three documentaries. They each bring their own deep insight about the story, everyone involved, the making of the film and fascinating on set stories from Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn.
Forging the Guns of Navarone Notes from the Set (13:59)
An Ironic Epic of Heroism (24:38)
Memories of Navarone (29:34)
Featurettes: A handful of impressive featurettes that again give some interesting history and education about specific subjects. The titles tell what each is about so if you are interested in any of these topics go ahead and give them a view. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Epic Restoration (9:37)
A Heroic Score (9:19)
Great Guns (4:34)
No Visitors (4:36)
Honeymoon on Rhodes (4:36)
Two Girls on the Town (4:35)
Narration-Free Prologue (5:45): Apparently there have been complaints that you can’t hear the score at the beginning because of the narration. So here it is.
Message from Carl Foreman (2:00): The producer gives a short promotional speech.