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A troop of British soldiers are out in the jungle to record jungle noises and troop noises in the jungle so that the recordings can be played back by other troops to divert the enemy to their whereabouts. As they progress to what they think is closer to the base camp they find themselves farther and farther from radio range until the only channel they can get clearly is that of a Japanese broadcast. They now realize they are probably only 10 to 15 miles from a Japanese camp! The tension is added to by rowdy and openly admitted "non-hero" Private Bamforth who has nothing good to say about anyone and especially Corporal Johnstone (who holds an equal dislike for Bamforth). When a Japanese soldier is taken as their prisoner, the true colors of each man comes to the surface ... Written by
The Long and the short and the tall is a stage adaptation but was also a set text for English exams for 16 year olds.
The film is during Burma in 1942 which is occupied by the Japanese. A group of seven soldiers expert in sonic deception take refuge in an abandoned hut in the jungle because the Japs are nearby.
When a lone Japanese soldier is captured tension rise further. Sergeant Mitchem who is in command wants to take the prisoner back to HQ for interrogation. However the soldiers argue amongst each other, even if it concerns a seemingly innocent item such as a cigarette pack that the Japanese soldier has amongst his possession.
Gruff Private Bamforth a barrack room lawyer who dislikes authority also becomes becomes the conscience of the platoon as the others wish to kill the captured soldier.
I read the play for my English exams and also watched the film at the time. I recently rewatched it after almost three decades. Its a low budget affair directed by Leslie Norman (father of famed film critic, Barry Norman.)
You can tell that it is a studio bound production, the jungle scenes look very fake and its also too brightly lit. The film also has a lot of shouting which indicates its stage origins. You would have thought that with all the shouting the Japs would have discovered the soldiers much earlier.
The cast is very much a who's who of 1960s British cinema. Laurence Harvey is the standout in a film that also contains Richard Harris, David McCallum, Ronald Fraser and Richard Todd. It examines the morality and psychology of war but looks rather dated.
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