The Guns of Navarone is the original ragtag bunch of army guys brought together against their will to accomplish an impossible mission against insurmountable odds. The Guns of Navarone Collector's Edition DVD, for those who were wondering about it on Amazon, features an almost perfectly restored print -I only found one grainy shot and it is very, very short and a couple of also very short shots which are darker than you might want them to be. I have no idea how dark the final scenes are supposed to be but they looked fine to me and watching the feature on the restoration process will probably dispell some myths about how this movie should look.The Collector's Edition features two audio commentary tracks: one by film historian Stephen J. Rubin and one by director J. Lee Thompson. There is also a second DVD full of extra features:more about that at the end of this review.
For those unfamiliar with the story of The Guns Of Navarone, Gregory Peck is a very efficient soldier whose mountain climbing skills are second to none. Anthony Quinn is the Greek resistance fighter who fights with Captain Keith Mallory (Peck) but has sworn to kill him once the war is over. Along for the ride are bomb expert David Niven, Major Roy "Lucky" Franklin, a guy good at using a knife, another Greek resistance fighter. Their mission reach the fortress on top of the Greek island of Navarone and silence the two big guns stationed there so the British army can rescue an island full of its soldiers before they are massacred by the Germans.
The group has to face the storm from hell, a sheer mountain cliff, the German army, a shortened window in which to accomplish their mission, other stuff you do not want to know before you see the movie, and perhaps a traitor in its midst. The odd and very comic element brought by the David Niven character, especially during the storm at sea, that makes the viewer root for the good guys even more.
The Guns of Navarone is a great war movie though it is not based on any real history. What really makes it work aside from Gregory Peck and the character he plays and the stellar cast is you never know what is going to happen next. The plot has more twists than a Greek mountain road.
The Navarone ending is a war movie classic, especially the last scene with the boats. Interestingly enough the movie ends open ended, leaving room for a sequel though Force 10 From Navarone is not that sequel. The Guns Of Navarone DVD looks pretty good. You can probably nitpick at a couple of short two or three second sequences but otherwise it looks pretty fresh. The extra features DVD has a short on the restoration process that explains this is as good a copy of Navarone as you will ever get and that some scenes you thought were filmed in daylight were actually night time scenes which explains why some people think it is too dark.
The second Guns of Navarone DVD features three documentaries:Forging the Guns of Navarone on how the movie got to be made, which is 13 minutes long, Ironic Epic of Heroism,which clocks in at 25 minutes, and Memories of Navarone which is some 29 minutes long and features the original Gregory Peck promo track and interview clips with Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, director J. Lee Thompson and James Darren.
Special features include a black and white short, Two Girls on the Town where Irene Papas talks about her experience in Rhodes. It is really a tourist film about Rhodes but what the hell. Other black and white short is Great Guns and Honeymoon on Rhodes, another touristy thing with James Darren, No Visitors about the set of the "Guns of Navaroneee". Collectors will also enjoy the recreation of the original Roadshow intermission with its music, the prologue, narration free so you can enjoy the opening score, the story of the restoration of Guns of Navarone, and a feature on the music for the movie.
Fans of this movie will enjoy the extra features DVD. Kudos to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for this one. It's nice to see a Collector's Edition that really has lots and lots of interesting features to make it the kind of release a collector will want. Especially worth it is the Memories of Navarone segment which has a lot of inside stories about what happened on the set and so on.
Guns of Navarone The Collector's Edition DVD set really is a collector's edition release, something that, sadly, can rarely be said. If you like this classic war movie, this is it.