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 ...
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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 regiment has returned to Scotland, and a new commanding officer is to be appointed. Jock's own cleverness is pitted against his new CO, his daughter, his girlfriend, and the other officers in the Mess. Written by
Aryk Nusbacher <email@example.com>
John Mills wore his regimental kilt once more, when he portrayed a Highland Officer in a wartime P.O.W. sketch on the Morecambe and Wise Show. See more »
At almost no stage does the bagpipe music we hear on the soundtrack match the pipers' fingering we see. In addition, during the band practice scene the band goes from being in step with the music (first beat of the bar on the left foot) to out of step to back in step again. See more »
It is hard to say anything new about this marvelous film - possibly the last great film Alec Guiness had the starring role in (although some STAR WAR fans may disagree with that assessment). Guiness as Major Jock Sinclair is a man's man, and the popular head of a Scottish army regiment. Since the war ended he has been in charge of it, and there have been no complaints. But one day he learns that the Army brass have decided to appoint John Mills (Lt. Col. Basil Barrow) as the Regiment's new commander.
Guiness is not a coward - he has fought his way up the ranks on the battlefields of Europe, and the others in the regiment know this. But Mills is an unknown quantity. He is aloof, and he is English. Nobody can tell whether or not he has any inner reserves of strength or what was once called "moxie" to win their respect. So soon Mills finds that while his commands are heard, the men are still basically looking to Guiness for real leadership.
It becomes a quiet but steady battle between the two men to see who is the real head of the regiment. Even when, due to personal problems, Guiness is arrested for drunkenness, Mills keeps fumbling his attempts to put him under control. Part of the problem is psychological - Mills has had a very rough time during the war. He was tortured badly by the Nazis in one of their camps. He has been just beginning to pull himself together. The lack of respect he is being shown is not helping.
The characterizations in the film are wonderful, in particular Dennis Price. Mills had been the star of GREAT EXPECTATIONS in the late 1940s, with Guiness in support. Price had been the actual star, as the scheming Louis D'Ascoyne - Mazzini, in KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS, again opposite Guiness. Here Price is Major Charles "Scotty" Scott, who has usually been Guiness's closest friend, but has stumbled. In typical Price double-dealing, he has made a play for Kay Walsh, Guiness's girlfriend, and has not been totally rejected (when Guiness learns of this he goes into his bender, which leads to his arrest). Price however is more complex than one would initially believe. He, of all the regiment officers, does not go to Guiness to double-check the orders of Mills. Price feels that Mills, as commanding officer, needs no double-checking. The others are there to obey him.
But then Mills decides to be nice to that drunken scamp Guiness - and Guiness and his friends sees this as weakness, not kindness. Mills finds that the last shreds of his rank's dignity are gone...especially after he and Price have some quiet words while Price is playing billiards. Basically Price tells Mills that it is impossible now to have any respect for the Lt. Col. And this leads to the final double tragedy at the end.
Dennis Price (from what I have read on this board) had many family and financial problems, and emotional problems that led to an alcoholism that smashed his career. But his performance as "Scotty", relatively short in comparison to Guiness and Mills in this film, was a quietly effective and superb one. One only wishes his personal demons could have been controlled, so that he could have given us more performances as this one.
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