Damn the Defiant!
Lewis Gilbert's Damn the Defiant! was among the last historical films of its kind, produced with a big-name cast (Alec Guinness, Dirk Bogarde, Anthony Quayle, etc.) on a multimillion-dollar budget. It was also shot in CinemaScope, which means that the DVD is a major revelation. Since its theatrical run in 1962, hardly anyone had ever seen it in widescreen, and the movie never made it to laserdisc. Television showings looked grainy and, mastered in full-screen, the film was always missing half its original image. In addition, considering the way that Gilbert utilized the background of his 18th century warship setting in practically every shot -- decorated accurately down to the smallest detail -- this was a major loss. To further illustrate the difference, one side of this DVD contains the film mastered in full-screen, while the other gives us the proper, letterboxed, 2.35:1 anamorphic image, in stunning detail and color. Audiences finally get something akin to what theatergoers were paying for in 1962, with good acting throughout, an excellent story, and a ton of activity and production values at every corner of the screen. The original advertising art is included in the supplementary materials, though the best material is in the printed insert, giving the entire pre-production history of the movie, in addition to its literary and historical origins. The 101-minute movie has also been given a very generous ration of 28 chapters, accessible through a straightforward menu that opens automatically on start-up.