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 complex.
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)