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At the outbreak of WWII the British realise they can't prevent the invasion of the Channel Islands. However, someone realises that a prize cow is on the islands and the Nazis mustn't get hold of her. This is the intrepid story of the cow-napping from under the noses of the Nazis. Written by
Steve Crook <email@example.com>
This strange British Film-Makers production, has as its weird premise a story based almost unbelievably on fact. Writer Jerrard Tickell based his book on a story told to him by an officer involved in such an actual event. While the Island of this film is fictitious, it is thought the real events took place on the Isl of Sark (Channel Islands) during the German occupation of '40 - '45. Unfortunately for this film, the screen play by Nicholas Phipps (who also has a small acting part) tends to waver between comedy and propaganda. This is a pity, as there are many suspenseful moments throughout this terrific looking film. I suppose with a situation as crazy as this, it could be difficult to fully know just how to treat it, and do it full justice.
Both the Director: Ralph Thomas, (Conspiracy of Hearts '60 ~ Clouded Yellow '51 ~ Wild and the Willing '62) and his Director of Photography: Ernest Steward (The Assassin '52, aka: The Venetian Bird) were versatile artists indeed. Both were comfortable working with either solid drama or comedy. And while they are mostly remembered for their various British comedies, these men were certainly well capable of injecting a little more drama into this film, had it been a better script.
The cast is varied and interesting; the wonderful and very talented Glynis Johns gives a thoughtful performance, and with her big doe eyes and smooth husky voice, is fully believable as the Island girl being brought back to her homeland on a military mission. David Niven is warm (maybe a tad too warm) as the Major. Barry Jones is suitably serious as the Provost of the Isl. Kenneth More in a rare dramatic role (pity they didn't give him more) fully convinces as the pacifist artist who has turned his back on the war. It's his character that is let down badly by the screen treatment - maybe a slight spoiler here but vital info: In the film, More's character ends up joining the cause and flees to England, but in the book he remains to defend his Island colleagues from serious German retaliation --being a direct result of the part he played in the military operation-- If this film was made during the War years you would say it's home spun propaganda, but this is six years on, in 1951. What were they thinking...?
George Coulouris' German officer is treated rather humanely, given he disciplines his men for any mistreatment of the Island inhabitants. Some of the incidents portrayed too lightly, involve the 'cow' of the title, these tend to be given over to stretched situations. The end is simply tacked on as a British moral booster. Could have been very good, as is, it's good to look at, entertaining, and should please as a rainy day time passer that looks back at some resent history. The Masterpiece Collection DVD I looked at, is basic, but offers good quality image and sound for it's modest price.
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