April 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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DVD Film Review: The Guns of Navarone with music by Dimitri TIOMKIN
  Starring: Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quale, Stanley Baker, Irene Papas, Gia Scala and James Darren. Directed by J. Lee Thomson
  COLUMBIA TRISTAR DVD CDR 10010   [150 mins feature running time]

Guns of Navarone

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.

Ian Lace

So:- Film *****
DVD features (repetitious) *(*)

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