The Guns of Navarone is surely one of Tiomkin's best-loved scores: it
earned him an Academy Award nomination. In fact, this hectic 1961 World War
II all-action adventure epic based on the novel by Alistair MacLean, was nominated
for seven Oscars including: best picture, Carl Foreman (screenplay writer and
producer), best director, best musical score, and (winning for)
best special effects. The film spawned a series of further adaptations of MacLean
adventure yawns notably: Ice Station Zebra (with a noteworthy atmospheric
score by Michel Legrand) and Where Eagles Dare (with a superb thrilling
score by Ron Goodwin)
Tiomkin's music is used sparingly but to great effect in the film. It is highly
evocative of the Greek Islands. It is most apparent in the opening and closing
titles of course but those typical complex Tiomkin cross-rhythms add greatly
to the increasing tension in so many scenes. Just two examples: the compelling
persistent percussive piano crescendo as the German patrol boat halts the heroes'
small fishing craft near the beginning of the film; and Tiomkin's use of harp
glissandi in his thrilling storm evocation.
Many fans will know that this was one of those Columbia classics that was left
to languish in the vaults and was rescued by experts from the most dreadful
deterioration so that it was necessary to restore both colour and sound to its
full glory. The DVD image and sound are really first class so that the incredible
impact of this glorious Boys Own heroic saga can be enjoyed to the full.
The features generally disappoint. Peck, Quinn, Darren and J.Lee Thomson reminisce
about their experiences on the set of the film without any real information
imparted beyond the fact that Gia Scala hated her hair cut and had her revenge
on Thomson for insisting on it; and that Quinn beat everybody at chess. But,
folks, there is no mention of the contribution of Dimitri Tiomkin not even by
J. Lee Thomson in his director's commentary delivered in so hesitantly that
one is almost lulled off to sleep.
DVD features (repetitious)