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The Winston Affair (1964)

Man in the Middle (original title)
In WW2,a US lieutenant stationed in India shoots dead a British NCO and admits his crime but his reason for the murder is so bizarre that it puzzles his defense counsel.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Lt. Col. Barney Adams
...
Kate Davray
...
Gen. Kempton
...
Maj. John Darryl Kensington
...
Lt. Charles Winston
...
Maj. Leon Kaufman
...
Col. Burton
...
Lt. Oscar Morse
Robert Nichols ...
Lt. Harvey Bender
...
Col. Shaw
Errol John ...
Sgt. Jackson
...
Maj. Fred Smith
Lionel Murton ...
Capt. Alec Gunther
Russell Napier ...
Col. J.H. Thompson
Jared Allen ...
Capt. Dwyer
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Storyline

In India during WWII, a US officer confesses the murder of a UK officer. A military veteran is appointed to defend him. Everything looks simple, until he starts investigating the circumstances of the crime and realizes that facts don't fit. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The most unusual chain of events that ever held your emotions at gun point.

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

5 February 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Winston Affair  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was made by Marlon Brando's production company, Pennebaker Films. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Il signor Quindicipalle (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

At Last
(uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played in the bar during the court recess
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User Reviews

 
A very interesting premise and a stellar cast...
26 February 2017 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

... and that surprised me as the movies made by Fox in the ten years after mogul Darryl F. Zanuck abandoned the company to bean counters in 1956 were some of the worst films that the company ever made, and this film was made in that ten year period. Now Zanuck did return in the early 60's but Rome and 20th Century Fox were not built/rebuilt in a day.

Lt. Charles Winston (Keenan Wynn) is an American officer during WWII in India, sharing a camp with British soldiers during the time before they are to move out and start a campaign against the Japanese in southeast Asia. At the beginning of the film Winston takes his revolver, walks over to where the British officers are bunking and shoots dead unarmed British staff sergeant Quinn in the full view of witnesses, and then just turns around and goes back to his own quarters and turns out the lights. He probably went to sleep.

Enter stage left Robert Mitchum as Lt. Colonel Barney Adams, who has been appointed defense counsel for Winston. There are two competing pressures here. Apparently Winston's brother-in-law is a congressman and has been applying pressure - thus the high ranking defense counsel versus some random JAG representative, and the apparent motiveless killing of a British soldier by an American soldier is causing friction between the troops when the focus should be on preparing to fight the real enemy.

So Adams - quick on the uptake - learns very fast that he is there to make a show of a defense in a trial in which the only acceptable outcome can be the hanging of Winston. But there are problems. Apparently the army psychiatrist who examined Winston first considered him insane, but was overruled by his commanding officer for no apparent reason. When Adams finds this out the psychiatrist is abruptly transferred to a remote army hospital. A nurse slips Adams a paper showing him the first psychiatrist's diagnosis, although it is an unsigned carbon copy of the original and destroyed report. And when Adams tries repeatedly to interview Winston he gets either stone silence, irrelevant ramblings, AND the motive - that Winston was a racist and did not like the fact that the British soldier he killed was "defiling the white race" by consorting with women of another race when on leave and bragging about it.

So the great irony here is that the armies involved in a world wide conflict to defeat powers that will ignore the facts to get the outcome they desire want their military justice system in this one case to ignore the facts to get the outcome they desire - that they are willing to hang a possibly insane man for the sake of allied cohesion.

Of course Mitchum is great in this role of the lifer army man who is faced with doing things that might damage his career for the sake of justice. Of course he has a love interest - the nurse who handed him the report. Because she looks Asian and this IS 1964, she makes a point of mentioning that she is half French and half Chinese. Wynn is doled out in small doses. Some people find fault with him being the killer and having such a small role, but I think it is to keep doubt in the viewers' minds - is he crazy, or was there some other motive and is he just faking it? Wynn has some important lines though such as "the real war is after the war - east versus west, black versus white". Brave words for a film released in a country at the beginning of an unpopular war and in the midst of the civil rights movement. Finally, Wynn as Winston refuses to take the stand - "Do you think I'm nuts?" he says.

So how will this all work out? Justly or not, and what is that justice? What exactly is going on with Winston in the first place? Watch and find out in this film set in WWII with undercurrents of what was going on in the United States - and worldwide - at the time.


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