Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
United Kingdom, 1960. Knightsbridge Films. Screenplay by James Kennaway, based on his novel. Cinematography by Arthur Ibbetson. Produced by Colin Lesslie. Music by Malcolm Arnold. Production Design by Wilfred Shingleton. Costume Design by Charles Guerin. Film Editing by Anne V. Coates.
Fantastic British film featuring a squaring off between two pristine actors, in this case a showcase for the marvelous talents of Alec Guinness and John Mills. Guinness plays the acting commander of a Scottish barracks who is loved by his men for his healthy attitude towards discipline: nothing can get out of hand, but he hardly spends all his time living by the rule book either. When a full-ranked battalion commander (Mills) is sent to take over the regiment, Guinness happily steps aside until he realizes that the new leader isn’t going to fit in at all. Mills plays strictly by the rules and tolerates no shabbiness, which Guinness takes to heart and decides he must defend his men from Mills’ judgmental attitude. From there progresses an expertly written, beautifully shot and blisteringly well-acted (by the entire cast, also including the magnificent Kay Walsh as Guinness’s on-again-off-again love interest) drama that ranks among Britain’s best film classics.
The Criterion Collection: #225
Academy Award Nomination: Best Adapted Screenplay
Venice Film Festival Award: Best Actor (John Mills)