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The Guns of Navarone blu ray release 10/18/2011

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The Guns of Navarone blu ray release 10/18/2011

Old 10-18-11, 12:27 PM
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The Guns of Navarone blu ray release 10/18/2011

Those who will get to watch 'The Guns of Navarone' for the first time in blu ray are very fortunate! I saw it when it appeared on the theater circuit back in 1961 with my father. I was in my single digits, so I can't compare quality then with even the VHS copies that were around decades later (circa 1989). This is a film that was meant to convey adventure and action, and Alistair MacLean's novel is not short-changed in any way. Featuring an all-star cast headed by Gregory Peck with David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Irene Papas, and a young James Darren it earned top billing wherever it played, and more than tripled it's 6 million dollar budget earning over $18 million in receipts! In the early 1960s, a film that could earn a million dollars was considered a financial success.

The film had quality control issues and the many copies produced resulted in the loss of several reels of the original negative. However, in the 80s when VHS was the only way to any home entertainment experience, the secondary video quality was not given much thought. The film's action and intensity overshadow most technical losses.

Showing in theaters during an era when b & w TV was the norm, how it looked in the theater certainly was most satisfactory by most anyone's standard. Such a film made available on VHS in 1989 was exciting, offering a new home viewing experience. I haven't owned a VHS player in years, and anything I had of value of family sentiment was transferred to DVD years ago. I cringe at the thought of watching this film in that format, but then I never liked VHS! S-VHS offered little improvement, though its increased resolution was nice, but few releases were ever made in Super VHS.

I bought the DVD back in 2000, and it looked good but the soundtrack is not overwhelmingly different from the new blu ray version. It does have a slight edge in its audio definition and has been digitally cleaned-up a bit and enhanced, with some spacial additions adding ambiance for a few scenes. But don't expect the serious surround today's features offer. It didn't exist back in 1961! Since many scenes in 'Navarone' were daytime exposures made to look like night, the underexposure and lighting tend to offer slightly more visibility in the new blu ray version, and the more detailed definition in color is also nothing short of a great movie experience. Such an experience has not been possible since this film was presented in its theatrical version in theaters half a century ago, so this should not go unnoticed! A punchier, more bass-laden audio as recorded today with full dynamic range would be nicer, but the audio you will hear will not disappoint you. A full orchestra in 1961 was a challenge to record, and with an average dynamic range of perhaps 70 db on a good day with great acoustics and recording equipment, today's worst recordings can surpass this half again. But a great soundtrack such as this film presents as written and conducted by Dimitri Tiomkin would likely not ultimately be more justified by technology than the action this film gave it then. 'The Guns of Navarone' stands as a feature that has not only survived the test of time, but for many of us even survived the test of repeated performances! From its theater days to TV, VHS, DVD and now blu ray... I suspect it will find sales to many who, like myself, wanted it long before the studio even scanned it fresh for its HD debut. Look for it soon on streaming sources and in HD when it does show on TV.

Classic films are what they are... most of us know which films they are, and when one comes along (which in our present day I have found can be counted on one hand with fingers left over!) it is recognized as something special. A film which stands the test of time is truly rare in today's world, and classics will always be recognized for the action, entertainment and artistic quality they have brought to audiences in the years they have endured.

With half a century passing since its theatrical release, 'The Guns of Navarone' belongs in the same ranks as other iconic war films such as Patton, Bridge On The River Kwai, A Bridge Too Far, The Longest Day and Tora, Tora, Tora. No collection could be complete without it, and thankfully, Sony Pictures must agree.

'The Guns of Navarone' in blu ray can be purchased new for less than its retail list of $19.99. It is a film well worth the time to watch, and one you will appreciate and want as part of your collection.

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