Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Guns of Navarone |
Actors: David Niven, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle, Stanley Baker
Directors: Alexander Mackendrick, J. Lee Thompson
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Military & War
This rousing, explosive 1961 WWII adventure, based on Alistair MacLean's thrilling novel, turns the war thriller into a deadly caper film. Gregory Peck heads a star-studded cast charged with a near impossible mission: dest... more »
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Columbia outdoes itself with new release of classic
Darren Harrison | Washington D.C. | 05/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The second movie in Columbia's newest wave of World War II movies (along with "The Caine Mutiny") is the 1961 Academy Award-winning film for Best Special Effects, "The Guns of Navarone," which stars Gregory Peck as Keith Mallory, the leader of a group of British commandos tasked with destroying two gigantic German anti-ship guns.
The British are desperate to evacuate 2,000 soldiers from the Aegean island of Kiros, with the only sea route through a stretch of water commanded by the guns that are encased inside a massive cliffside bunker that is immune to air attack.
Based on the best selling novel by Alistair (Where Eagles Dare) MacLean, Mallory has been working on occupied Crete for two years and as an expert mountaineer is the perfect choice to ferry the team to the only part of Navarone not monitored by the Germans - a 400-foot cliff.
Joining Peck is David Niven as explosives expert John Anthony Miller and Anthony Quinn as a Greek resistance fighter.
MacLean is known for being able to weave together a great story and this movie is consistently entertaining. In fact the film was already afforded a respectable special release on DVD in 2000. Columbia though have outdone themselves with this 2-disc set by adding a second audio commentary and four new documentaries.
The original release included a rather dry, faltering, but informative commentary by director J. Lee Thompson, a smattering of archival featurettes of varying quality and an anecdotal documentary on the making of the picture featuring on-camera interviews with Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, James Darren and J. Lee Thompson named "Memories of Navarone" and running at 29:34. It's a nice, breezy documentary and entertaining - detailing some of the experiences the cast had working on the picture.
However this new release includes a lively commentary with historian Stephen J. Rubin who mentions that this film started the trend of Hollywood going outdoors. Up until this time most movies were filmed on the studios backlot, whereas this movie was filmed on the island of Rhodes. He also discusses the cast (including a very young Richard Harris). Rubin also discusses some of the differences between the MacLean novel and the movie - which appear to be a number of changes to characterization and details some of the criticisms of the movie when it was released - including the fact that the actors were too old to play commando's, many being as they were in their 40s and 50s. Though Rubin quickly adds that he feels it was cast perfectly.
Also included are two new documentaries, the first of these "Forging the Guns of Navarone" runs at 13:58 and includes on camera interviews with Eve Williams-Jones (the former wife of producer Carl Foreman) and Assistant Director Peter Yates (who himself went on to become a very successful director in his own right). Apparently Thompson was not the original director for the project and Yates credits Thompson for his ability to jump straight into a film that had already shot much of its second unit work as well as his ability to manage so many big name actors. Yates also reveals that despite their on-screen animosity towards each other, both Niven and Peck got along well together determined to have as much fun as possible on the picture. Yates also recounts how the crew would refer to it as "The biggest B-feature ever made."
The second new documentary "The Ironic Epic of Heroism" runs longer at 23:38 and is essentially an on-camera analysis of the movie by noted Film Historian Sir Christopher Frayling (who was mistakenly credited with providing an audio commentary in the press release for this DVD release). Frayling is quite engaging as he recounts such facts as Foreman's initial reluctance to handle the project. Foreman once said that he was incapable of making a movie that did not make statements and he initially saw the MacLean book as a simple action adventure. It was not until he re-read the novel that he realized it could serve to make statements about the futility of war and the ability of war to bring out the best in people.
Frayling also reflects on the fact that the movie was the first global production caper-style World War II movie to be played as an action adventure in a style he describes as "incredibly innovative."
Also included on this new release is the restored intermission with score that was seen in some European cities (it is listed as an extra since it is not part of the official cut of the movie) and featurettes on the Dimitri Tiomkin score which details the subtle differences throughout the movie and a fascinating look at the UCLA restoration.
The restoration featurette details the tortured path towards restoring a film that was in such terrible shape that they needed several sources of original negative, both from Columbia and a private collector. In an example of the work the UCLA team had to do, the print they were provided by Columbia had the plane crash at the beginning of the movie happen in broad daylight. This apparently is how most people have seen the scene in recent years. That was until one of the eagle-eyed team at UCLA noticed that one of the trucks had it's headlights on and wondered why. Sure enough they were able to track down a copy of the print from a private collector that showed that the crash happened at night with the screen various shades of blue - and that is how it was restored.
In another instance the print UCLA had also had the infamous dubbing of Richard Harris where the censor had the word "bloody" replaced with "ruddy" for some of the screenings in the UK (the word "bloody" is considered a swear word in the UK). The UCLA team prevailed again and were able to locate a copy of the correct audio still intact).
On a sidenote the DVD also affords fans of Tiomkin the opportinity to hear the opening sequence sans the narrative as a special feature on the second disc. This apparently is a special feature that had been requested for years."
"You've got me in the mood to use this thing..."
Raul Vasquez | Chicago, IL | 01/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Guns of Navarone is a wonderful film that touches upon the issue of how difficult it can be to make moral choices during the course of a war. The screenplay is fascinating in the sense that every major character in the film has their own notions of just how far they should go in applying the necessary force "to get the job done" in a war.
The movie is about six saboteurs who must destroy two gigantic guns, which present a danger to the Allied Navy. At the very beginning of the movie, viewers immediately have their first taste of a moral dilemma when Commodore Jensen, the organizer of the mission, has to decide between sending six qualified men to an almost disastrous and suicidal mission or simply scrapping the mission and leaving 2,000 trapped British soldiers to a certain doom. Commodore Jensen sees the choice as a foregone conclusion and thus resorts to lying to the leaders of the mission in order to boost their confidence. Jensen however does feel the pains of leadership as he tells a fellow officer "I'm just a man who has to send men off to die".
The six saboteurs each have their unique specialties and views of morality. The first saboteur is Captain Mallory, the best mountain climber in the world and a competent linguist. Captain Mallory is a soldier who now has a utilitarian view of the world and no longer sees the world as black or white. The second saboteur is Major Roy Franklin who is known for his luck and determination. Roy is as focused to the mission as Mallory, only he does not appear to be so in the eyes of his friend Corporal Miller, the third saboteur. Corporal Miller is the self-righteous chemical explosives expert whose philanthropic perception of the world directs his loyalty only to his friends and himself. The fourth is Private Brown "the Butcher of Barcelona" whose specialties are working with engines and using a knife. Although Brown is a seasoned veteran with many kills under his belt, he has become wary of the war. The fifth saboteur is Colonel Stavros. Stavros, like Mallory and Franklin, focuses to the task at hand, but is also ever thoughtful of his personal vendettas. Finally, the last saboteur is Private Pappadimos, whom Jensen describes as a "born killer".
The moral views of the six saboteurs will clash with each other several times during the movie as they debate about how to conduct a war and deal with human life. The moral perceptions even prove to be the undoing of some of the men. The beauty of the movie is that ultimately the ongoing theme of morality further extends to the two women who later join the mission. Even the Germans are not exempt from this theme as the "normal" German soldier's character contrasts itself sharply from that of the inhumane SS officer.
It is not surprisingly to find that many world leaders enjoy watching The Guns of Navarone, since here is a film that touches upon an issue that is constantly ever-present in their minds. The burden of choosing the fates of others is after all, a burden that is felt by both the commander and the individual soldier alike.
The superbit version of The Guns of Navarone is an improvement over the first regular DVD release. The noticeable improvement is found mainly in the sound. A particular standout scene in terms of sound is where Stavros uses his sniper rifle to give cover against the advancing German Army. The superbit picture quality while an improvement over the regular DVD release, is not as noticeably good as the superbit sound quality."
High adventure, tension, moral choices and a great story!
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 12/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1961 film, starring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn won an academy award for its special effects. I can well understand why. This is a high-adventure drama about a handpicked squad of soldiers whose mission it is to disable high-powered Nazi guns on a Greek Island, thereby enabling the rescue of 2000 trapped British troops. Over and over again, the inhospitable rough sea, the perpendicular cliffs that must be scaled and the hoards of Nazi soldiers who are everywhere are challenges that must be overcome. The actors all give fine performances, but I was most impressed by that of Anthony Quinn whose every gesture shows the mastery of his craft. Irene Pappas and Gia Scala also join the cast as members of the resistance, complicating the mission in unexpected ways. In addition to the adventure, there are constant moral choices and this is what turns the film into something more than just the story of a mission. Gregory Peck and David Niven verbally confront each other about these matters and force the audience to see the hard choices that most be made during wartime. The tension held my interest throughout even though it's a full 158 minutes long. And then I stayed up another hour or so watching the special features on the DVD which was full of some very interesting background about the making of the film.Yes, the film is all one sided. The Brits are the good guys; the Nazis are bad and there is never any sympathy when they die. It lacks the realism of authentic bloody wounds considered state-of-the art in more modern films. And the actual mission itself never happened in real life; it is adapted from a novel by Alistair MacLean. It's done well though and gives the viewer the experience of a good story well told. I therefore give it a high recommendation. It's well worth seeing."
The Biggest and Best "Guns"
S Kaczmar | 07/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We don't have movie stars anymore; we have "actors." If nothing else, the Guns of Navarone proves this point, as no less than the talents of Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle, and David Niven bring Alistair MacLean's gripping novel to life. The result is one of those old-fashioned, sweeping adventures that never sacrifices character for empty-headed action sequences or expensive but ultimately pointless special effects. Peck leads a rag-tag group of commandos to destroy a German fortress whose giant cannon threaten the English Navy. Like all such cinematic missions, however, there is a traitor in the group threatening their success, as well as a series of setbacks from the Germans and Mother Nature. There's never any real question about whether or not the mission will succeed, only who will be left when it's all over, and verbal sparring by Peck and Niven adds to the tension (perhaps the best scene in the film occurs when Niven challenges Peck to execute the traitor). Young audiences, particularly those spoon-fed on the palp generated over the last 10 years, will probably scoff at the film's unhurried pace and tame action sequences, but the real action occurs inside the characters' heads and hearts. A must-see for anyone looking for a thinking person's action movie."