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Old 04-01-2010, 01:29   #1
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The Guns Of Navarone possible Blu-ray release

After recording this from BBC2 on New Year's Day (pleasantly surprised to find it was in 2.35:1), and watching it over the weekend, it turned my thoughts to a possible Blu-ray release. It was slated for release a couple of years ago but never arrived.

Does anyone know if the delay is due to a remastering issue or something else? (the DVD Savant review of the last release catalogues a woefully inept preservation history by Columbia).

I have the original DVD release from circa 2000 which is currently on loan to a friend, but would love to upgrade to Blu if the difference in quality is going to be noticeable.

Thoughts anybody?
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Old 04-01-2010, 08:12   #2
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I heard that the Original Camera Negative is beyond repair and that there are no really good prints to use as a foundation for a proper restoration. The DVD is OK but no more. A better source would be required for a Blu-ray disc.

I very much hope that some solution is found as The Guns Of Navarone is the kind of "big" movie that will benefit the most from High Definition. Incidentally, what was the TV print like? (It has long seemed to me that the most likely place to find good prints of movies from the sixties and seventies is television studios.)

Last edited by JoelCairo; 04-01-2010 at 22:20. Reason: typo
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Old 04-01-2010, 18:30   #3
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Sky have shown the film in HD and it looks very good.
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Old 04-01-2010, 21:34   #4
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I have never seen a decent print of this - and I put this down to several reasons. It was shot in 35mm CinemaScope when it should have been made in Super Panavision 70, like another Columbia picture of similar vintage, Lawrence of Arabia. Also, there is a mass of simply awful, grainy, muddy process work that undermines the whole film. Sad, because it's such a ripping yarn.
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Old 04-01-2010, 23:10   #5
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The BBC2 print looked similar in terms of quality to my DVD copy, which I haven't got in my possession to do a direct comparison, but it was quite heavy with grain in places, and displayed the same fluctuations in the picture at certain points.

That said, it was fairly detailed and generally looked okay considering the film's disasterous preservation history. If it was taken from a down conversion of a HD master, which the latest DVD transfer from 2007 was touted as being, then a Blu-ray release would certainly improve on it. But no, sadly it's never going to look like Lawrence Of Arabia.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:41   #6
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I watched The Guns Of Navarone last night - the original Region 2 DVD. It's not a bad DVD by any means and I agree that it comes from a grainy source.

We should always remember that the final quality of a DVD depends as much on the mastering as on the source material and that several early Columbia-Tristar DVDs suffered from very poor mastering - at least in Region 2. For example Lawrence of Arabia despite coming from Robert Harris's restoration is a poor DVD which does not look good when projected onto a big screen. In fact I'm sure that Robert Harris himself has "blogged" somewhere that the DVD of Lawrence is below standard.

The Guns of Navarone DVD works better through a projector than Lawrence Of Arabia which strongly suggests that the source material may not be the main problem so far.

Incidentally. I watched Doctor Zhivago on DVD through a projector recently. That DVD blows both Lawrence of Arabia and The Guns Of Navarone into the weeds. Zhivago was filmed on 35mm, Lawrence on 70mm.
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Old 09-01-2010, 12:36   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoelCairo View Post
Incidentally. I watched Doctor Zhivago on DVD through a projector recently. That DVD blows both Lawrence of Arabia and The Guns Of Navarone into the weeds. Zhivago was filmed on 35mm, Lawrence on 70mm.
Yes, you're right in everything you say. There are no hard and fast rules and no consistency. I'd also say that for picture quality the DVD of Ryan's Daughter tops all of them and that was shot on 65mm.
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Old 09-01-2010, 12:55   #8
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Originally Posted by Wendell Armbruster View Post
Yes, you're right in everything you say. There are no hard and fast rules and no consistency. I'd also say that for picture quality the DVD of Ryan's Daughter tops all of them and that was shot on 65mm.
I Intend in the next few days to watch Ryan's Daughter via a projector. I absolutely love Ryan's Daughter and think those who sneer at it have a major blind spot. I'll report back how the DVD looks when projected onto a big screen.
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Old 02-10-2011, 19:31   #9
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Bumpety bump: as noted in the bargain forum, the UK Blu is a splendidly cheap Ł5.99 pre-order at HMV

As to the likely quality of the transfer, Robert Harris says this (referring to the equivalent US edition):

Quote:
To the best of my knowledge, TGoN was photographed on the new Eastman 5250 stock, the first to have high level anti-dye fade characteristics. My comments are personal opinion, and some may disagree, but here goes.

The film was a UK production, with some photography in Greece and L.A. Had a decision been made to have the original negative processed by Technicolor London, Technicolor Hollywood, or several other high end labs, Columbia wouldn't be facing many of the problems they do today. Since dye transfer prints, as well as at least a small number of 70mm blow-ups were produced, why not allow the lab doing the printing to handle the production all the way through?

Presumably based upon a studio contract, the processing work was given to Movielab, which is a couple of steps above forcing the professional photographer given the task of memorializing your wedding or major family function to drop their exposed film through a slot at the local Uncle Joe's Ribs, Photo Lab & Storm Door Company.

I'm unaware of the production of separation masters to protect the show.

In 1989, Columbia went to UCLA for aid to save the film, and archivist Robert Gitt performed the necessary tasks to the best of analogue abilities. The final result at least stabilized the image problems, while protecting the original mag tracks.

Two decades later, a return to the original surviving elements in 4k was in order.

But a return doesn't guarantee the superb image that this film could have had, had everything been done correctly back in 1961.

As I recall, the final reel of original negative may also be missing. Dupes are built in throughout, and color, for the most part is, well... acceptable.

I'm taking the long way around to make the point that there is nothing further that can be done to make the film look any better. And everything goes back to those early decisions.

What does TGoN look like?

Pretty much as the knowledgeable eye would think. Grainy in parts, occasional contrast problems along with optical anomalies, plus what some here will refer to as "force fields" around certain objects, normally in high to low contrast situations. Flesh tones range from decent to awkward brownish green with red highlights.

And there is very little that can be done about it.

The technical folks at Columbia have used all the tools at their disposal, but one cannot make a proverbial silk purse from old Eastman stock processed by Movielab.

There you have it.

This is a terrific and important film, that happens to be beautifully acted and is extremely entertaining.

But the point needs to be made that not only does this Blu-ray not look like a new film, it isn't going to look like what many will perceive a high quality, important 1961 production should look like. Know that going in, and enjoy the show, and you won't be disappointed.

They don't make them like this anymore.

Highly Recommended.

RAH

Last edited by jackal; 02-10-2011 at 19:39.
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Old 03-10-2011, 00:07   #10
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A chap at my work has a lot of the production design blueprints and notebooks for this movie of Geoffrey Drake, who was his uncle. He offered them to the BFI but they said they had not the means nor the will to take them off his hands, even though he was offering the whole lot for free, as long as the BFI restored them. There's some terrific stuff in them, right down the correct markings on the shell casings for the guns.
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Old 03-10-2011, 06:39   #11
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There must be a reason why the pre-order is so cheap - could it be the poor quality of the print ? When you see how amazingly good the Breakfast at Tiffany's transfer to Blu-Ray is, it's such a pity GoN wasnt able to get the same treatment (for reasons explained above).
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Old 04-10-2011, 08:33   #12
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Robert Harris seems to be referring only to American prints of the film. The British 35mm prints were done by Technicolor. I know because I ran the film during my time as a cinema projectionist in the 1960s and I still have a few 35mm CinemaScope frames from the copy I ran at the time and they are definitely Technicolor prints and, even after fifty years, the colour hasn’t faded on them at all. If they had been Eastmancolor prints, they would have faded to a pinky-red hue years ago. The image on them is very clear and I can’t see any more grain on them than there was on any other CinemaScope film of that era…although I always thought that the colour on The Guns of Navarone was a bit more subdued than on other colour films of the time. It may well have been filmed on Eastmancolor stock, but it was definitely printed by Technicolor in the UK.

I see from one of my old film dispatch books that the copy number of the print I ran was 81. Maybe as many as 200 35mm prints were struck for the British release. So anyone wanting to do a restoration for Blue Ray should forget about the US prints and try to track down a UK print or dupe negative, although my guess is that after all this time, most, if not all, of the UK prints will have been incinerated. And no, sorry, but I don’t have the technology to scan the 35mm frame clips I have and paste them in here.

Last edited by DavidRayner; 04-10-2011 at 08:38. Reason: Word missing
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:16   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidRayner View Post
Robert Harris seems to be referring only to American prints of the film. The British 35mm prints were done by Technicolor. I know because I ran the film during my time as a cinema projectionist in the 1960s and I still have a few 35mm CinemaScope frames from the copy I ran at the time and they are definitely Technicolor prints and, even after fifty years, the colour hasn’t faded on them at all. If they had been Eastmancolor prints, they would have faded to a pinky-red hue years ago. The image on them is very clear and I can’t see any more grain on them than there was on any other CinemaScope film of that era…although I always thought that the colour on The Guns of Navarone was a bit more subdued than on other colour films of the time. It may well have been filmed on Eastmancolor stock, but it was definitely printed by Technicolor in the UK.

I see from one of my old film dispatch books that the copy number of the print I ran was 81. Maybe as many as 200 35mm prints were struck for the British release. So anyone wanting to do a restoration for Blue Ray should forget about the US prints and try to track down a UK print or dupe negative, although my guess is that after all this time, most, if not all, of the UK prints will have been incinerated. And no, sorry, but I don’t have the technology to scan the 35mm frame clips I have and paste them in here.
Dye transfer prints are too dense to use for transfers. The Blu of The Guns Of Navarone actually looks pretty good considering the DVD quality. Anything where there aren't opticals (of which there are many) looks sharp and excellent and the color is also excellent. If you like the film, you're not going to ever see it look better than this, save for someone running one of the UK dye transfer prints, although even then they won't look like they did back then when projectors used carbon arcs - the new bulbs do not bring out the best in IB Tech prints.
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Old 02-11-2011, 12:30   #14
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Originally Posted by haineshisway View Post
Dye transfer prints are too dense to use for transfers. The Blu of The Guns Of Navarone actually looks pretty good considering the DVD quality. Anything where there aren't opticals (of which there are many) looks sharp and excellent and the color is also excellent. If you like the film, you're not going to ever see it look better than this, save for someone running one of the UK dye transfer prints, although even then they won't look like they did back then when projectors used carbon arcs - the new bulbs do not bring out the best in IB Tech prints.
Yep, these days everything is geared towards a low contrast master: original negative, interpos, interneg. The Spirit telecine can't cope with a full contrast print (& scanning is just as bad). Years ago all the films you saw on the telly were from prints, but the Rank telecines then were set up for that, & films were transmitted a lot flatter then.
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Old 03-11-2011, 20:56   #15
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Yes, that's right. In the days when cinema films were projected using carbon arcs, the films were actually made to be projected that way, so that all the colours in the film could be seen properly on the screen. When they moved over to projection using Xenon lamps (or large bulbs), things never looked as good again.

I'm not very well up on the technicalities of actual different types of 35mm film copies being transferred to DVD, or the difficulties of doing it. But in 1996, I had a ten minute reel of cinema sales trailers in colour (Lyons Maid, Kia-Ora, ect) dating between 1959 and 1969, transferred to video by a method someone told me was a Rank Cintel flying spot telecine machine and the colours came out beautifully, despite the age of the 35mm prints and the fact that they'd each been run hundreds of times at the cinema (as was the case with sales filmlets). I have since had the reel transferred to DVD-R and uploaded onto YouTube in two five minute parts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEjEBbgaOiY

Last edited by DavidRayner; 05-11-2011 at 13:27. Reason: Update
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