Major Jock Sinclair has been in this Highland regiment since he joined as a boy piper. During the Second World War, as Second-in-Command, he was made acting Commanding Officer. Now the ... See full summary »
Abel Davis is a criminal, hunted in Italy. The police are closing in, so he and his pal Raymond arrange to flee back to France with Abel's wife, Thérèse, and their two young sons. Abel and ... See full summary »
Involuntarily-retired Colonel Hyde recruits seven other dissatisfied ex-servicemen for a special project. Each of the men has a skeleton in the cupboard, is short of money, and is a service-trained expert in his field. The job is a bank robbery, and military discipline and planning are imposed by Hyde and second-in-command Race on the team, although civilian irritations do start getting in the way. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When they are making the getaway from the Army Camp they park up to change into civilian clothing. When the car drives off the reflection of the camera lights and crew can be seen on the rear of the vehicle. See more »
[after Hyde has explained his plan]
Alright, I'm sold. I'll sign on, for the duration.
Lt. Col. Hyde:
On my terms? Equal shares for all?
Well, if you insist on this socialistic nonsense, yes. You're losing a friend, but gaining a second-in-command.
Lt. Col. Hyde:
I'll settle for that.
[they drink a toast]
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A British army colonel, pensioned off and embittered, assembles a motley group of specialist, criminal and deviant ex-officers who share his bitterness. He has in mind a bank robbery. They arm themselves, courtesy of their former employer, then execute the robbery impeccably, right in the centre of the City of London. The bags of loot are filled, but, at the pictures, crime seldom pays....
That this film has been reviewed as a comedy demonstrates, once again, that British and American are two cultures disguised by a common language. The humour here, of that characteristically British sardonic kind, is incidental to a drama of frustration, disappointment and inadequacy. The humour is just the way the British speak.
The clever and low key "raid" on the army training centre is finely done. So much so that it overshadows the robbery itself and therefore slightly unbalances the action.
This is one of those films, craftsmanlike and enjoyable, yet not desperately exciting, that finds its greatest value precisely in being a period piece. The League of Gentleman is a fascinating social document. Made in 1959, it catches the moment in British history when, as its Empire dissolved, the social infrastructure that supported it and that had made Colonel Hyde what he had been, also disintegrated. This aspect could almost have been deliberate, explaining the very long opening sequence (another unbalancing factor) that introduces us to the seven main characters. There are shockingly frank moments: the honourable man with the overtly promiscuous wife; the gigolo; the religious fraudster (or pervert - the message is obscured); another of the heroes an "other man", a homosexual; the pressure of life in a small house with a loud television set. So, too, the casualness with which machine guns are used in a robbery by men trained in the code of gentlemen. The dull and seedy presentation of Hyde's home and base, large but far from grand, is further evidence of the decline of his class. So, too, a robbery that was intended as a hymn to the effectiveness of military planning, brought to naught by one stupid mistake and a small boy.
Yet this is not a sententious film, their is no preaching, none of that British nostalgia for the old ways, but almost a respect for the robbers and a recognition that life had to become more ruthless as a stiff society began to flex. How it was elsewhere, I do not know, but this watchable film will show anyone what was happening in Britain just before the Sixties began to swing.
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