Dunkirk (Digitally Restored) (1958) on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review

Dunkirk

Dunkirk (1958) is out now in a restored Blu-ray and DVD, and I won’t go into the detail of the plot, as it is, since anyone will have heard plenty on the news, even if they didn’t go and see Christopher Nolan’s recent Dunkirk. For the many who did, it’s unfair for me to compare the two in terms of spectacle It’s interesting to see a different take on Operation Dynamo, resulting in scores of boats travelling from the UK to Dunkirk to bring back over 300,000 men to Britain.

Richard Attenborough, Bernard Lee (M in the Bond films) and co are called into battle, although it takes 46 minutes before their boats are brought into the action, and in this, the skippers aren’t told why they need to head out there, whereas in Nolan’s vision, it was widely known that they’d be rescuing the troops.


John Mills, Bernard Lee and Sean Barrett.


On the plus side, this was also filmed on the actual beach in Dunkirk, and I can see the similarities in the story and scenes with Nolan’s movie, although there’s no huge aerial shots like those which dominate his epic. In fact, things are literally on a much smaller scale, since you have to love the effects when a toy boat ‘sinks’…

I also have to add that the acting of anyone dying is a bit suspect, as it’s very overdramatic, although I did giggle when one was told they only had a flesh wound, given the Monty Python movies I’ve seen in my life. Perhaps that’s where they got it from?

Overall, this Dunkirk does take a while to get going, and doesn’t really feel like it does until the boats set sail, even though there’s some battlefield action beforehand. The film begins with the original BBFC card showing it was given a U-certificate, but that was later upgraded to a PG, due to the ‘mild language’ such as “old bastard”.


“I didn’t get it at Tescos, okay?”


The film is presented in the theatrical 1.66:1 widescreen aspect ratio and in 1080p high definition and the picture is mostly crisp and clear and has been well-remastered, so when it can look great, it does. Naturally, there’s the odd scene with footage that can’t be improved upon, but for a film that’s almost 60 years old, I can’t quibble about what’s on view, here.

The sound is in 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio (It’s mono, so I’m not sure why it’s 2.0, rather than 1.0) and is available in both English and German dialogue, but as it’s mono, you won’t be getting directional sound effects.

The extras are as follows:

  • Interview with Sean Barrett (22:17): An interview with the actor who was 17 at the time of filming, and played the young lad Frankie, effectively the same as the recent Dunkirk‘s George Mills. It’s a pretty entertaining interview, and includes an encounter with Brigitte Bardot…

    …but even better, he was on the cover of The Smiths’ How Soon Is Now (right), and didn’t even know until many years after.

  • Dunkirk Operation Dynamo newsreel (3:53): This is the kind of footage that extras were made for – it’s something you’ll never see elsewhere and is damn fascinating.

  • Young Veteran (22:23): A short documentary about the war by Frank Owen and Michael Foot. Yes, THAT Michael Foot. However, the narrator is listed solely as Michael Frank, an amalgam of the two.

  • John Mills home movie footage (9:59): 16mm footage, from the National Film and Television Archive, of the on-set footage originally shot by the actor. As it’s in 4:3, it’s pretty close to the 1.44:1 IMAX 70mm ratio of this year’s Dunkirk!

  • Behind the scenes stills gallery: 22 on-set photos.

The menu mixes the theme with clips from the film, there are subtitles in both English and German, and a a bog-standard 12 chapters. I prefer one every 5 minutes, which would come to 18.

Dunkirk (1958) is out today on Blu-ray, Amazon Prime and DVD, and click on the packshot for the full-size version.


War is hell… but the movies are always worth a watch.


FILM CONTENT
PICTURE QUALITY
SOUND QUALITY
EXTRAS
6
10
7
4
OVERALL 7


Cert:
Running time: 136 minutes
Year: 1958
Distributor: Studiocanal
Cat.no: OPTBD4052R0
Released: September 25th 2017
Chapters: 12
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 2.0, Dolby Digital 2.0 (all mono)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Widescreen: 1.66:1
Disc Format: BD50

Director: Leslie Norman
Producer: Michael Balcon
Screenplay: David Divine and WP Lipscomb (based on the novel by Trevor Dudley Smith, and the book by Ewan Butler and JS Bradford)
Music: Malcolm Arnold

Cast:
Corporal ‘Tubby’ Binns: John Mills
John Holden: Richard Attenborough
Charles Foreman: Bernard Lee
Mike: Robert Urquhart
Barlow: Ray Jackson
Miles: Ronald Hines
Frankie: Sean Barrett
Harper: Roland Curram
Dave Bellman: Meredith Edwards
Froome: Michael Bates
Pannet: Rodney Diak
Jouvet: Michael Shillo
Commander – Tough’s Yard: Eddie Byrne
Diana Foreman: Maxine Audley
Colonel – Medical Officer: Lionel Jeffries
Merchant Seaman: Victor Maddern
Military Spokesman: Anthony Nicholls
Themselves: Flanagan and Allen
Lieutenant Lumpkin: Kenneth Cope
Thirsty Sailor: Bernard Cribbins (uncredited)

Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.
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