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J. Lee Thompson
Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn
Writing Credits:
Carl Foreman

During WWII, a specialized commando team attempts to sabotage and put out of commission the Axis firepower on the mountainous Greek island of Navarone in the Aegean Sea.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Dolby Vision
English Dolby Atmos
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 4.0
Czech Monaural
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
German DTS-HD MA 5.1
Hindi Monaural
Italian DTS-HD MA 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Castillian Dolby 5.1
Latin Spanish Monaural
Chinese Simplified
Chinese Traditional
Brazilian Portuguese
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 156 min.
Price: $45.99
Release Date: 11/7/2023

• Audio Commentary with Director J. Lee Thompson
• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Steven J. Rubin
• Optional Roadshow Intermission Card
• “The Resistance Dossier of Navarone” Interactive Feature
• Narration-Free Prologue
• "A Message From Carl Foreman"
• “Forging The Guns of Navarone” Documentary
• “Ironic Epic of Heroism” Documentary
• "Memories of Navarone" Documentary
• 6 Featurettes
• Main Title Progression Reel
• Trailer
• Previews
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Guns of Navarone (Steelbook) [4K UHD] (1961)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 15, 2023)

Given that this represents the fifth time I’ve reviewed 1961’s The Guns of Navarone, I’ll skip my usual discussion of the movie itself. If you’d like to read my thoughts, please click here.

In summary, those who desire hyper-editing and slam-bang thrills probably won't enjoy The Guns of Navarone, but I thought it provided enough excitement and action to make it a fine movie. To be honest, I prefer 1977’s semi-sequel Force 10 from Navarone to this original, but both are good films that provide a lot of fun.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B+

The Guns of Navarone appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The nature of the source meant the image came with inconsistencies, but this Dolby Vision presentation rendered it about as well as I could hope.

Sharpness generally seemed pretty good. As implied, the original photography came with some softness – usually related to opticals – but the overall package felt well-defined.

Neither moiré effects nor jaggies interfered, and the only edge haloes I saw stemmed from those aforementioned opticals. That left them baked into the image and I witnessed no artificial sharpening.

With a healthy – and often heavy – layer of grain, I also suspected no issues with noise reduction. Print flaws failed to become an issue.

In terms of palette, the movie came with a somewhat flat, brownish look – especially in terms of skin tones, as the actors all looked like they’d spent weeks in tanning beds. Which given the lack of “sun safe” tendencies 60 years ago might’ve been accurate!

Whatever the case, the 4K rendered the colors as photographed, and whenever the image allowed for brighter tones, these came across with nice vivacity. HDR added kick to the hues as well.

Black levels seemed deep and dense, while shadows worked fine – again, within the constraints of the source. The film used a fair amount of day-for-night footage, and those shots tended to look murky.

But once again, that acted as a side effect of the source and became unavoidable, so I thought low-light shots worked fine as a whole. HDR brought extra punch to whites and contrast. Guns will always offer a mixed bag visually, but this version worked well.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack brought a lot of impact – though whether this made sense for such an old movie becomes up for grabs.. The mix presented a broad soundfield, especially in the forward channels.

Separation between channels seemed fine, with audio that was well-placed and discrete. I heard good blending between speakers as well.

The rear speakers added a nice punch to the package. The surrounds tended to mainly bolster the sound from the front speakers, but they did so effectively and provided a nicely spatial sense that made the entire track very involving.

A few livelier scenes added to the package as well, such as the ones set at sea. These could offer a bit of a jolt, though, as their sudden appearance often caught me by surprise.

The quality of the audio betrayed a thin timbre typical of films from the era, but it still seemed pleasantly robust. Dialogue sounded relatively warm and natural, and I had no trouble with intelligibility. Only a smidgen of edginess crept into the presentation.

Music worked best of all, as it appeared clear and smooth, with no signs of shrillness. The score sounded vivid and dynamic.

Effects sounded slightly rough at times but were adequately realistic and even dropped some good bass at times. I suspect the mix used more than a few re-recorded stems, and that meant the material didn’t always sound as “1961” as might otherwise be the case.

Objectively this turned into a pretty solid mix, but I must admit its lack of early 1960s verisimilitude distracted me. I found more of a disconnect between the movie’s look/style and the more modern sound.

The disc also included a DTS-HD MA 4.0 track that appeared to replicate the theatrical audio, and it offered a less active affair compared to the Atmos. This meant a stronger forward bias, with less frequent surround information.

Indeed, the back channels kicked in fairly infrequently, as they delivered some of the louder action elements. Otherwise the soundscape focused strongly on the front.

Which worked for me since I felt this came across as a soundfield that felt more natural for a movie from 1961. I thought the use of the surrounds lacked the in-your-face distractions of the Atmos version.

The 4.0 mix also didn’t sound as robust as the Atmos track, which some may view as a drawback given the impressive dynamics of the latter. Again, I preferred the more natural vibe of the 4.0, as I thought it simply suited the movie better. Both offered good choices, though.

How does this 4K UHD compare with the Blu-ray from 2011? The Atmos mix expanded the prior 5.1 track to a moderate degree, and we also got the first-ever appearance of the 4.0 track.

As for the 4K’s Dolby Vision image, it boasted superior colors, blacks and delineation. Even with the limitations of the source, the 4K became a more satisfying rendition.

Note that Sony produced a 4K UHD for Guns back in 2021. While that one shared the 2023 release’s Dolby Atmos audio and the DTS-HD MA 4.0 track I liked, the 2023 disc provides Dolby Vision encoding that the 2021 disc lacked.

The 4K brings some features absent from the Blu-ray. We find the film’s trailer as well as a Main Title Progression Reel that lasts two minutes, 43 seconds.

It shows a split-screen with the concept art for the credits on top and the final product on the bottom. It proves mildly interesting.

In addition, we can watch the movie with or without its Roadshow Intermission Card. Without it, the film runs 2:36:21, whereas with it, the flick goes for 2:40:53.

The only difference comes at the 1:27:08 mark, when we see blue card with some art and the word “INTERVAL” that runs while we hear some movie score. It lasts until 1:31:40.

I’d skip this option in the future. Nonetheless, I appreciate its inclusion for viewers who really want to replicate the roadshow experience. (Note that this feature also appears on the Blu-ray.)

All the remaining extras appear on the included Blu-ray Disc, and we start with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director J. Lee Thompson, who offers a running, screen-specific chat as he discusses sets and locations, cast and crew, and other production elements.

Although Thompson occasionally offers some interesting points, the majority of this track is pretty bland. Many empty spaces occur, and when Thompson does speak, he often just tells us if a shot was filmed in the studio or on location.

The track does improve toward the end, especially when Thompson discusses how David Niven nearly died during filming. Nonetheless, it takes a lot of patience to reach that point, and I'm not sure it's worth it.

For the second commentary, we find a running, screen-specific piece from film historian Steven J. Rubin. He discusses sets and locations, cast and crew, the involvement of the Greek military, rehearsals, the novel and its adaptation, themes and subtext, effects and stunts, and a few other issues.

In addition to his own remarks, Rubin offers quotes from David Niven’s autobiography as well as his own interviews with Thompson and producer Carl Foreman.

While not one of the best historian commentaries I’ve heard, Rubin nonetheless gives us a good glimpse of the production. He provides all the requisite nuts and bolts along with good insight and reflections on the project. This ends up as a much more satisfying chat than the director’s piece.

The disc also presents A Message From Carl Foreman. This is a two-minute filmed introduction to the film the producer provided for the movie's Australian premiere. It's not terribly fascinating, but it becomes a cool historical document.

Next we get an interactive feature called The Resistance Dossier of Navarone. With this activated, you can check out text and video about various topics, though not as a running piece that goes along with the movie.

The “interactive” moniker implies “Dossier” will run concurrent with the flick, but instead it comes in its own little section of the disc. The featurettes and participants follow:

“Military Fact and Fiction” (4:16): Fort MacArthur Museum director/curator Stephen Nelson, film/TV historian Jonathan Kuntz, and military historian/film consultant Captain Dale Dye;

“The Greek Resistance” (4:06): Nelson and Dye;

“The Navarone Effect” (4:10): Dye, Kuntz, and Nelson;

“The Old School Wizardry of The Guns of Navarone” (4:16): Kuntz, Dye, and Nelson;

“The Real World Guns of Navarone” (4:13): Nelson and Dye;

“World War II In the Greek Islands” (3:59): Nelson and Dye.

The various pieces of text and video look at the history behind the movie as well aspects of the film’s creation. It’s too bad we only hear from three different participants.

While all prove useful, they give us a limited set of perspectives. Nonetheless, the clips and text give us good information and make these snippets enjoyable.

After this we shift to three documentaries. First comes Forging The Guns of Navarone: Notes from the Set. This 13-minute, 59-second piece offers notes from producer Carl Foreman’s former wife Eve Williams-Jones, and assistant director Peter Yates.

The show looks at directorial issues and Thompson’s approach, Foreman’s work during the shoot, politics on the set, cast and relationships, staging the action scenes and balancing the various camera units, locations, the prop guns, and a few other production details.

With only two participants, “Forging” suffers a little from a lack of perspective. Nonetheless, Williams-Jones and Yates provide consistently good information. They flesh out our understanding of the production and help make this a useful program.

Next we get Ironic Epic of Heroism, a 24-minute, 38-second show that includes remarks from author and film historian Sir Christopher Frayling. The piece looks at the project’s origins, the adaptation of the novel and the introduction of various themes, logistical challenges, allusions to Greek myths in the flick, “global casting” and locations, Thompson’s impact on the set and his style.

Frayling also discusses the movie’s take on World War II, more about subtext and characters, and a few other reflections. Some of Frayling’s comments repeat information found elsewhere, but he still manages to introduce some good material.

He gives the movie more of an introspective view and less “nuts and bolts”. This becomes an interesting examination of the flick’s deeper side.

For the final documentary, Memories of Navarone runs 29 minutes, 34 seconds. It features Thompson as well as actors Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, and James Darren. The show looks at what attracted the participants to the project, Thompson’s late arrival on the production and his directorial approach, other actors, and impressions from the set.

Largely anecdotal in nature, “Memories” proves enjoyable. The show progresses in a rather disjointed manner, so don’t expect it to provide a concise examination of the production. However, other components on this disc exist to do that, so take this one as a nice collection of stories.

A few pieces appear under featurettes. “A Heroic Score” lasts nine minutes, 19 seconds and presents film music historian Jon Burlingame.

We find information about composer Dimitri Tiomkin and his work on Guns. Burlingame provides a reasonably insightful look at the music in this crisp piece.

“Epic Restoration” goes for nine minutes, 37 seconds and features UCLA Film and Television Archive preservation officer Robert Gitt as he tells us about efforts to bring the picture and audio of Guns up to snuff. It’s a moderately interesting examination of the challenges presented by the aging source material.

The remaining four featurettes include “Great Guns” (4:34), “No Visitors” (4:36), “Honeymoon on Rhodes” (4:36), and “Two Girls on the Town” (4:35). All of these were filmed and released contemporaneously with the movie itself.

Though clearly promotional in nature, their age makes them fun, as they give us a look at the way movies were advertised back then. I most like the final two.

These are narrated by and primarily feature (respectively) Darren and his then-new wife on their "honeymoon" and then Irene Papas as she and female costar Gia Scala tour the Greek islands, mainly through shopping. All of the featurettes contain enough behind-the-scenes material to make them worth a look.

An alternate film element shows up next. Narration-Free Prologue runs five minutes, 45 seconds as it shows exactly what the title implies: the beginning of the flick solely with music. Burlingame introduces it. This is nice to have for archival reasons, but neither does anything for me.

The Blu-ray disc provides Previews for Das Boot and Bridge on the River Kwai.

Although some aspects of it appear a bit dated, The Guns of Navarone holds up well for a more than 60-year-old action film. It delivers a largely engaging tale. The 4K UHD delivers erratic but acceptable picture along with very good audio and supplements. This ends up as the strongest home video release of the film to date.

To rate this film visit the prior review of GUNS OF NAVARONE