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King and Country (1964)

King and Country poster.jpg

The pairing of Bogarde with Losey had unleashed an unfathomably brilliant performance in the previous year’s The Servant, but here we are in more subdued territory – even if it happens to be a war zone. Adapted from a stage play by John Wilson it is the story of a WW1 deserter who is defended by officer Bogarde at the court martial that follows. The original play apparently had a homosexual subtext which is obviated here in favour of a more pragmatic approach to issues of loyalty without complicating personal preferences (homosexuality was still illegal when this was made and Bogarde had been brilliant in Victim, 1961, which is about the subject). Tom Courtenay is fine as Private Hamp and Bogarde offers a very good interpretation in this take on class and justice. He himself served in WW2 and was at the concentration camps so he had firsthand knowledge of the evil that men do. This portrait of trench warfare is suitably grim and the issue of cowardice under fire in that war was also treated in Paths of Glory (1957), a classic of the sub-genre.

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About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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