The guns built for the movie. Navarone is not a real island, by the way.
Directed by J. Lee Thompson
Starring Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Stanley Baker, Anthony Quayle, Irene Papas, Gia Scala, James Darren, Richard Harris
Sony has announced a 60th anniversary 4K edition of J. Lee Thompson’s The Guns Of Navarone (1961) — in both the US and the UK. The Blu-Ray from 2011 was a huge upgrade from the DVD, and I’m eager to find out how much more resolution can be gotten out of this thing. (It’s never been a super-sharp-looking film, as far as I can tell.) Sony has listed a lot of extras, some carried over from the Blu-Ray. I’m excited about the restoration of the picture’s original four-track stereo.
The Marx Navarone playset is a really cool thing.
Of course, no matter how you see it, The Guns Of Navarone is terrific. Alistair MacLean’s “impossible mission” novel made a great movie — and everyone from director J. Lee Thompson to that stellar cast to composer Dimitri Tiomkin brought their A game. What always strikes me about it is how quickly its 158 minutes go by. (The same can be said for another MacLean picture, 1969’s Where Eagles Dare.)
I haven’t taken the 4K plunge yet, and it’s terrific to see these older pictures getting this UHD treatment. The movie itself, of course, is highly, highly recommended.
Directed by Stanley Donen
Starring Gregory Peck, Sophia Loren
Stanley Donen directed a couple of my favorite films of the 60s, Charade (1963) and Bedazzled (1967). In between, he did Arabesque (1966), a fun piece of Hitchcockian eye candy starring Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren. It’s coming to Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber.
Donen offered the lead to Cary Grant, who’d starred in Charade. Grant turned it down, and the part went to Peck. He’s a hieroglyphics expert who can decode a secret message — and who ends up pursued by sinister agents with Sophia Loren in tow. The story’s slight, but Donen and cinematographer Christopher Challis more than make up for it with all kinds of Technicolor-Panavision loveliness.
Henry Mancini cooked up a great score, which The Ventures covered (only released as a 45). Robert McGinnis did the terrific poster art (up top) between his work for Thunderball (1965) and You Only Live Twice (1967).
Flashy 60s pictures like this are perfect for Blu-Ray, and this one comes highly recommended.
Directed by Lewis Milestone
Screenplay by James R. Webb
Director Of Photography: Sam Leavitt
Film Editor: George Boemler
Music by Leonard Rosenman
Cast: Gregory Peck, Harry Guardino, Rip Torn, George Peppard, Carl Benton Reid, James Edwards, Bob Steele, Woody Strode, Robert Blake, Martin Landau, Harry Dean Stanton
There aren’t many Korean War movies. But Pork Chop Hill (1959) makes sure it’s well-represented on the cinematic battlefield. It’s terrific — Lewis Milestone’s staging of the battle scenes is absolutely incredible — and it’s coming to Blu-ray in January from Olive Films.
Milestone’s original cut took us back and forth between the peace talks and the needless combat on the hill (the idea was to show Korea that we would continue fighting if peace wasn’t reached). But Gregory Peck, as co-producer and star, had the film trimmed by about 20 minutes, eliminating much of the peace talk stuff and making it a more traditional war movie. You can see evidence of that cutting if you look for it, but it’s still a solid, hard-hitting war picture. Recommended.