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Wow - I used to think "Guns Of Navarone" was a try-hard, almost-there
type of near-classic war film that had muffled sound, used a bad
coloring process, was poorly lit, was limited by budget and the
technology of the time. Boy, was I WRONG - I had seen this film several
times, all on conventional/cable TV, VHS and even Laserdisc prior to
the recent UCLA restoration now out on DVD. I never completely engaged
in the reality/experience of this movie. It was as if I was listening
to Beethoven's Ninth on an AM clock radio in an adjacent room. The
newly-restored DVD in its original widescreen format showcased on a big
screen TV in surround sound is the ONLY way to fully take in this piece
of art, unless you perchance get lucky enough to see it in a cine
Unless you have viewed this film in its original condition in a theater or restored, letterboxed with proper-sized screen and sound, your previous/future comments have ZERO merit, as far as I'm concerned. So many people here have commented on this film "lacking action" and being a "bore" - I could not disagree more. Although I have not read the book (something I rarely do anymore due to an unfortunate accident years ago), this movie resembled a well-written novel. It was FULL of REAL character development, bringing you mixed emotions - at times you love, feel for, loathe or despise them - even the German army officer, during the interrogation/capture scene (which I will not spoil), had a warm, admirable quality about him. I will purchase/rent/borrow an audiobook of this, if at all possible, because Alistair MacLean has some of the best written adventure material ever brought to film. The action in this film was aplenty - maybe not a Schwarzeneger thrillride, but that would have made it completely unbelievable. The character development, internal conflict and subplots more than adequately fill the non-action lulls, if you want to call them that. One reviewer here commented on a shipwreck scene of 15 minutes that seemed like forever - the entire realistic shipwreck sequence was barely five minutes long, FYI. Without going into too much "spoiling" detail, there was constant suspense while the Germans were nipping at their heels all film long. It contained espionage, several hand-to-hand combat sequences, several shootings, knifings, cars/trucks being blown up, carjackings, explosions, dive bombings, mortar bombardments, strafings, assassinations, etc. With six men and two women against several dozen Germans, you can't justifiably get much more action packed into a script unless you would unnecessarily/unrealistically insert more just to intensify the film. The film did not really need intensifying as the plot was strong enough on its own merits - as were all the characters and the subplots surrounding them.
The editing is top-notch. This film is lovingly woven into a tapestry with nice artistic dissolves/fades/graphics transitioning scenes (chapters) and furthering character development and story lines - the accompanying music only enhances those transitions like adding melted butter and/or salt to cooked vegetables enhancing their flavor. To me, this film is very warm and comfortable when it needs to be, but also cold and abrasive at times to make its social commentary. Carl Foreman scripted another great masterpiece with his usual pro/anti-war statements wrapped neatly in an entertaining adventure that makes one think. The end retrospective sequence with the Dimitri Tiomkin score is indelibly touching and unforgettable - a rather unorthodox approach for a "war movie."
The sweeping landscape photography and several cultural touches truly captured the beauty and flavor of Greece and its proud people. Ironically, when at Blockbuster, I coincidentally chose this film to view with my son - on the Opening Day of the XXVIII Olympiad, being held of course in Athens, Greece. I read somewhere that the people of Greece still hold this film in high esteem and were/are very proud of the way their nation was portrayed - they should be. Unlike many other movies made abroad, Guns Of Navarone affectionately honored its host country and its people. My 7 year-old film-making-wannabe son absolutely LOVED this movie, even better than his most recent film classic viewings... The Magnificent Seven and Bullitt. When I told him many here at IMDb said this film was boring and over-rated, he commented "are they nuts?" This coming from a kid who loves James Bond, Superman, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Star Trek, Power Rangers, Lost In Space and Jonny Quest as well as Classic Rock, film scores, Legos, Hot Wheels, plastic model kits, gymnastics and PS2. Guess there is hope for the future generation after all.
Some of the very best action/adventure films ever made have very little "constant action," FYI. I recently overheard a teen boy in a video store who said "Raiders was a slow, boring film" - of all things. No wonder the cumulative votes of classic films on IMDb do not entirely mirror or reflect what critics have historically said when they initially rated and/or reviewed them. I try to overlook the current technological advancements of today when compared with films of yesteryear in order to objectively critique a film. GUNS OF NAVARONE is no exception - made before traveling matte (blue screen) technology and CGI effects. Sure, the rear-screen projection photography and miniature work was not perfect, but no other film of its era was, either. Those factors aside, this film is EXTREMELY under-rated - this film is a stand-alone classic of its genre and amongst other all-time great films... a genuine piece of art.
Ranking just under the ten-star rated Bridge On The River Kwai, Guns Of Navarone is an instant-classic and will always be so (on a LARGE SCREEN in its original widescreen format); due to its solid foundation of high production values, endearing score, good writing, strong plot/character development, the fine actors to play those characters and loving direction. Kudos to all who worked on this film. (9.5/10)
For any boy growing up when I did, back in the late 1970s, it was well
understood that "Guns of Navarone" was the sine qua non of adventure films,
a movie you called friends about when you saw it listed in next week's TV
Guide. It's hard to believe so much time has gone by, both since my boyhood
and since the film was made, but "Navarone" still holds up very well, a
character-driven film alive with nuance and subtlety. It moves at an
clip, not rushed or forced, making the viewer follow its story through
agonizing twist and turn.
What makes the film especially good is the crisp dialogue, lines that point up the moral and philosophical argument at the heart of the film and which resonate today as much as then:
Mallory: The only way to win a war is to be just as nasty as the enemy. The one thing that worries me is we're liable to wake up one morning, and find we're even nastier than they are.
Franklin: I can't say that worries me!
Mallory: Well, you're lucky.
Good performances abound, but the best by far is David Niven's Cpl. Miller, a complex character whose smooth front and witty banter conceals much of the conflict of the film. It's he who tangles most often with Gregory Peck's Mallory, and has at least three scenes in the film that are top-rate. We may like Miller because he keeps things humming and provides welcome comic relief, but he's no less the center of the film than Peck or Anthony Quinn, the two well-cast leads whose relationship is enriched, at least from our remove, by the unique vow Stavros has made to Mallory about the unsettled business between them.
The plot is a thing of beauty, moving with all the synchronicity and clever precision of a diabolical cuckoo clock. The special effects have suffered more than a bit from the march of time (though one should remember that was the only part of the film that won an Oscar in 1962). Some process shots are cringe-inducing now. But the pace is still gripping and the payoff spectacular. Here's the film that was the template to every popcorn actioner that came after, its imprint recognizable on everything from the James Bond movies to "Star Wars" to Indiana Jones. That's impressive, but more so is that "Guns" remains as entertaining as any one of them, and more thrilling than most.
Being a big Gregory Peck fan, I was expecting great things from The Guns of Navarone, and in one of those rare instances, I was not disappointed. Mr. Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn et al. are in top form, each of them bringing their respective characters to life and the story likewise. The action scenes are impressive even by today's standards but in my opinion they are only a secondary pleasure. The main pleasure is watching the divergent and forceful personalities cooperate, conflict, confound and finally triumph. Suspense is maintained throughout. I also liked the way complex moral issues were addressed. Another bonus is the portrayal of the Germans. Here they are not all depicted as impersonal inhuman cruel monsters. The full mosaic of human personalities is shown on their side too. But don't get me wrong, they are still a formidable enemy who keep the outcome in doubt. Strongly recommended, 8/10.
Ever since I was a little boy, I've watched several classic war movies
with my father. He was an absolute fan of this kind of movies and I
guess I've inherited that passion from him, because since then I try to
watch and buy as many (classic) war movies as I can find. So far I
already have several of them in my private DVD collection, but until
now, "The Guns of Navarone" wasn't a part of it. The main reason for
that is because I hadn't seen it before and therefor didn't know what
to expect of it. But now that it was finally shown on television, I was
able to tape it and to watch it.
When in 1943 the Germans are attempting to bully neutral Turkey into joining the Axis, 2,000 British troops are trapped on the small and strategically unimportant Greek island Kiros. Something has to be done to save them and there is only one way to get there: by boat. But it's impossible to come near to the island because the only sea route is defended by two gigantic German anti-ship batteries, deployed in a massive cliff side bunker on the island of Navarone. An air attack has been attempted before and proved to be useless and the only option that is left is sending a team of six Greek and English mountaineers to meet up with partisans to try and dynamite the guns. The team does not only face the almost impossible task to conquer the difficult terrain, they also have to try to get past a German garrison and to make things worse, there also appears to be a traitor among them...
About one thing I'm already certain: I'll buy this movie on DVD as soon as I can find it. This is one of the better classic war movies that I've seen lately and I really had a good time watching it. Not only does it give a more realistic view on the war, the characters are also a lot more realistic. They aren't as invincible as you sometimes see in other classic war movies (think for instance of "Where Eagles Dare (1968)"), in which the Americans or other allies seem to carry some kind of magic shield around them that can't be penetrated by German bullets, while they can kill hundreds of the enemy with only one bullet. In this movie they have to deal with all kinds of difficulties like difficult terrain, a traitor,... and yes, even the good guys can get killed or wounded.
What I also liked was the fact that this movie was shot in Greece and therefor gave a realistic feeling to the setting, without feeling like a brochure for a romantic holiday (like Captain Corelli's Mandolin). I know, we all expect that and believe that it is normal when we see it, but I've already seen otherwise and it's something you didn't always get at the time. Think for instance of the movie "The Battle of the Bulge" (1965), which was supposed to be situated in the Belgian Ardennes, but which was shot with olive trees in the background and in a desert-like terrain. And trust me, I'm Belgian myself and I know the region all too well, so I know that there really isn't such a type of terrain to be found there.
Next to the good story and the correct decor, this movie also offers some fine acting from a great classical cast. With Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle,... you get some of the most famous actors at the time and they all did a very nice job in this movie. Add to this the fact that story was very good, that the action still looked nice, that everything was shot in the right country and that everybody spoke the correct language. Then you know that there is absolutely nothing more I could ask for in this movie. I give this movie a well deserved 7.5/10.
For a long (157 minutes) classic movie, this is paced well with a
decent amount of action to keep things going. There are lulls, but just
a few, and the cast is always worth watching with Gregory Peck, Anthony
Quinn, David Niven, Richard Attenborough, Stanley Baker and Anthony
Quale all quality actors. There are no irritating, annoying people,
either, which is very refreshing. Everyone in this group is pretty much
on the same page.
It's just a straight World War II adventure, with no sappy romance subplots to take away from the story, either. In other words, this is man's movie, pure and simple, and a good one that still holds up today.
Despite the good cast, the story takes center stage. The visuals or sound aren't anything to write home about, even with the latest super-duper DVD edition. I found this surprisingly interesting even on multiple viewings when I knew what was going to happen, so that's a testimony to how well this story was told on screen.
The Guns of Navarone is a classic WWII film. The movie is about a group of
Allied soldiers (Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Stanley Baker,
James Darren, and Anthony Quayle) whose mission is to destroy the Nazis
powerful weapon which is the guns on Navarone. Will they be able to make it
without being caught? This movie is great. The acting by Peck, Niven, and
Quinn is A+. The special effects were great and they still amazed me. I
recommend this movie to all.
The Greek part of the Mediterranean Theater of World War II was
strictly a British show. They fought a pitched seesaw battle with the
Germans until almost the end of the war. A great deal of debate about
the feasibility of the whole operation has raged with military
historians. The reason that the British Army and forces from their
Commonwealth countries was to keep Turkey in the position of benevolent
neutrality. At least this was one of Winston Churchill's stated aims
and The Guns of Navarone makes the case for it.
But specifically this film deals with a pair of menacing looking naval guns embedded in a cliff with a big rock overhang. The RAF can't get at the thing to destroy from air, so a commando team is put together under the charge of Anthony Quayle. A couple of native Greeks are along, Anthony Quinn and James Darren, an explosives man, David Niven, a tough anti-fascist resistance man whose service dates back to the Spanish Civil War, Stanley Baker, and a mountain climber, Gregory Peck.
Peck has to get the team to climb a forbidding cliff which is the only area of the beach the Nazis don't guard because they think nobody can land over there. Peck gets the job done, but Quayle becomes injured and Peck gets the responsibility for the whole mission.
The Guns of Navarone is filled with tension as the men keep getting into and out of one situation after another. The film crackles with excitement and really should be seen on the big screen, it's the only way you can appreciate the special effects which got The Guns of Navarone its Oscar.
The film marked a screen partnership of Gregory Peck and director J. Lee Thompson, they did four films together. Thompson specialized in these action adventure films. Later on Thompson partnered with Charles Bronson in some of his best films of the seventies and eighties.
To get the young into the theater, current teenage heart throb James Darren is in the cast. We even gets to hear him sing in Greek which is in fact Darren's own ancestry. Irene Papas is also in the cast as his older sister and Gia Scala is her silent friend.
Despite setback and betrayal our team continues on. The climax of The Guns of Navarone is exciting and unforgettable and should not be missed.
Corporal Miller's exclamation sums up what kind of mood this WWII action thriller is trying to set. "Guns of Navarone" is not full of flag-waving or patriotism, but wearied veterans who just want to get this job done. Spielberg's soldiers in "Saving Private Ryan" also conveyed this outlook. When we first see Captain Mallory, he is grim faced and upset that his leave has been canceled (as we later find out, he had a good reason for seeking leave!). There is not a lot of emotion expressed at seeing Major "Lucky" Roy Franklin, but the two men are glad to greet each other as comrades. But the movie's first emotional tailspin is when Squadron Leader Barnsby gives a report on his group's failure to attack Navarone. You can see the fatigue on Richard Harris' face as he tells the "bloody truth" about what is being asked of him and his men. A fine cameo by this late, great actor. The characters don't smile or joke too much, and when they do the viewer can plainly see that there's more to tell underneath the surface. This was a great job of acting by all concerned, and they are given wonderful dialog to accompany the stress and tension of the time. The top scenes are when insubordination looms among the characters, not because the person in charge is being sadistic or unfair, but because of the fatigue of everyone. The action and stunts are great, and this is the first movie I've seen that has both cliff climbing AND cliff diving!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Judging by the overall score, this film is rated very highly and I must agree. This was one of the most innovative films of it's time. I recall that the theater had to be shut down for a couple of weeks prior to the film opening so that a totally new type of sound system (called Stereo) could be installed in order to properly enjoy this film (remember, this is the early 60's). When we saw it, I remember being simply awestruck by the sound of the German shells whistling overhead and landing behind me. It was probably quite primitive by todays standard, but very impressive for it's day and everyone loved it! The story was also quite good, although fictional, and the acting is top shelf. The film stars David Niven, Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn, so how can you go wrong there? This is a top notch film with an award winning, innovative soundtrack. What's not to like?
I won't repeat what others have said. My short take: It's one of the
best action films and one of the best ensemble films ever made.
What I noticed on first viewing was how quiet it is. Many scenes take place without dialog or score, merely background noises like wind, feet crunching gravel, and the like. Some of the tensest scenes are made more so by our hearing only what the characters would hear. For example, early on in the film, the lead characters undergo a storm at sea and approach a dangerous narrows, and until the scene's climax, all we hear are howling wind, driving rain, and slamming waves.
A musical score tells viewers how they are supposed to feel and often telegraphs shifts in plot or mood. As used in this film, the absence of music heightens the drama and makes the action more immediate. What score there is is thus more effective, earning its composer an Academy Award.
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