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Although it is set during W.W.II, THE GUNS OF NAVARONE ($25) isn’t a war movie in the traditional sense. Most war movies tend to emphasize battle scenes, however there is very little actual military combat in this film. Instead, THE GUNS OF NAVARONE is action/adventure tale that follows a small band of allied soldiers on espionage mission against German stronghold on the island of Navarone. Carl Foreman fashioned a virtually perfect screenplay for THE GUNS OF NAVARONE containing intelligence, sharply drawn characters, plenty of action and a certain level of unpredictability. Director J. Lee Thompson handles the action sequences with aplomb, plus he maintains a quick pace throughout, making the film’s two hour thirty seven minute running time seem only half as long.

THE GUNS OF NAVARONE stars Gregory Peck as Captain Keith Mallory, who is assigned an impossible mission. In order to rescue 2000 British soldiers trapped on a small Greek island; Mallory must infiltrate a secured German installation that is cut into the side of a sheer cliff and destroy the two powerful guns that would otherwise blow the rescuing British Navy out of the water. Making matters worse, Mallory has only a handful of men to accomplish this impossible task, slipping past the occupying German forces at very turn. Mallory does have the aid of the Greek resistance, but eluding German soldiers becomes increasingly difficult the closer they come to their objective. If you have never seen THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, I hate to give away any of the film’s surprises. However, those who have seen this classic film know what’s in store, so no further description is necessary. In addition to Gregory Peck, THE GUNS OF NAVARONE features memorable performances from David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Stanley Baker, Anthony Quayle, James Darren, Irene Papas, Gia Scala and James Robertson Justice.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made THE GUNS OF NAVARONE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. THE GUNS OF NAVARONE is a film that has long had visual problems that are traceable back to its original production, and to how the original Eastmancolor film elements were handled, processed, and ultimately, preserved. A good deal or restorative effort has gone into making THE GUNS OF NAVARONE look as good as it can possibly look, and kudos to Sony for producing a pretty pleasing 1080p presentation. The image isn’t always uniform, but at is best it appears very crisp and produces excellent levels of details as well as texturing. At its worst (which is limited to a few moments), THE GUNS OF NAVARONE can appear a little soft, dupey and display modest contrast issues. The vintage CinemaScope lenses also introduce some minor geometry anomalies, while optical effects, fades and dissolves create their own minor visual hiccups. Colors have been greatly improved over the film’s DVD release offering far better hues than I have ever seen on this film. However there remains some unevenness in the colors, but overall, the improvements prove excellent. Blacks are accurate and the whites appear crisp. For the most part contrast is smooth, while shadow detail is limited by age and production factors. The elements from which THE GUNS OF NAVARONE has been transferred have been very nicely scrubbed, with only the mildest of blemishes remaining. Grain is ever present, sometimes mild, and sometimes heavy.

THE GUNS OF NAVARONE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The lossless encoding maximizes the fidelity of half-century-old recordings offering better fidelity than has been heard prior to this release. Dimitri Tiomkin’s stirring musical score reaps the lion’s share of the benefits, coming across in a warmer, somewhat richer manner. Sound effects also get some modest improvements in terms of credibility. Directionally is pretty darn good, although it never approaches that of a modern production. Key sequences have impressive directional properties that hold up well. Surround usage is decidedly limited in comparison to the forward soundstage. There is a decent amount of bass information that keeps the sound from coming across as overly thin, but nothing to impress. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and maintains intelligibility its throughout. French and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Dutch, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements, some of which have been ported over from the previous DVD releases. Starting things off are two running Audio Commentaries included on the Blu-ray Disc; the first is with director J. Lee Thompson, while the second includes film historian Stephen J. Rubin. Next is The Resistance Dossier Of Navarone, which is an interactive feature that delves into the historic events depicted in the film. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Forging The Guns Of Navarone: Notes From The Set (fourteen minutes), An Ironic Epic Of Heroism (twenty five minutes), Memories Of Navarone (thirty minutes), Epic Restoration (ten minutes), A Heroic Score (nine minutes), Great Guns (five minutes), No Visitors (five minutes), Honeymoon On Rhodes (five minutes), Two Girls On The Town (five minutes), Narration-Free Prologue (six minutes) and Message From Carl Foreman (two minutes). THE GUNS OF NAVARONE is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

THE GUNS OF NAVARONE is a classic W.W.II adventure movie that fans have loved for half a century. The Blu-ray represents the latest restorative effort and while not always perfect, it marks a significant improvement over previous releases. Highly recommended.


The Guns of Navarone [Blu-ray] (1961)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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