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15 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Very Sad but Very True Story

Author: Jmhl3 from Glasgow, Scotland
13 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the story of the Sandringham Company of the Royal Norfolk Regiment. The Sandringhams were made up out of servants or tenants of the Royal Family's estate at Sandringham. It follows there loves, hopes, fears throughout early 1915, as some lads want to see the world, another wants to marry before leaving, the officers are the same. The Medical Officer's wife has left him but is quite happy to go around with other women, other officers are uneasy about leaving home or their inexperience gets to them. The main character is Captain Frank Beck a respected figure at Sandringham and friend of the Royal Family, together with most of the others in the film he was a person in real life. The film passed to the Sandrighams deployment to the Dardenelles. It shows the chaos at Gallipoli with regards to logistics and discipline. Now we come to the attack the Sandringhams make. The film erroneously portrays the Sandringhams as going over the top without a preparatory barrage and from behind a sandbag barricade. In actual fact they went over with their brigade, with a short barrage and from trenches, the Sandrighams objective was to capture a farm. They were not led by Captain Beck, they were led by Lt Col Proctor with Beck as second in command, their battalion commander. The film gets it correct in showing the Sandringhams getting minced up by shell and sniper fire and there being few left once they reach the farm. They pushed the Turks out of the farm but the Turks regrouped and surrounded the farm. Proctor decided to surrender. The 40 or so survivors out of a company of 150 were marched out of the farm by the Turks and forced to kneel where they were then shot in the back of the head. The film shows Beck getting executed but it was later reported that he was fatally wounded just as the men got out of the trenches. After the war their remains were discovered and given a proper burial albeit there was nothing to identify a person with though except for the Royal Norfolk shoulder flashes. This film is very good and I believe the historical adviser wrote a fine book about the Sandringhams which should be interesting to many. If you want to see the forgotten story of a very sad but heroic tale, then this is the film for you.

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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Glamour-less war - the ultimate tragedy

Author: Katharine Osinska ( from England
29 November 1999

One of the abiding mysteries of the First World War: What happened to the men of the Sandringham Company, volunteers from the King's estate in Norfolk?

In an age where social rank defined one's behaviour, David Jason stars as Frank Beck, the estate manager determined to accompany his men to the front. Encouraged by Queen Alexandra (Maggie Smith) he defies the King's orders to stay at home. Together, the company faces the horror of war in an unfamiliar landscape, battling beauracratic inefficiency, and a determined and ruthless enemy.

The brilliantly restrained acting by David Jason and Maggie Smith portray perfectly the affectionate but formal relationship between the estate worker and the Queen. This is complemented by the emotional highs and lows experienced by the families left behind. In a vivacious performance by Emma Cunnliffe, Peggy, the Queen's maid, marries her sweetheart just before the departure for Gallipoli. The upper classes are more reserved, but their stories none the less heartbreaking.

This is the BBC at its best.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Why can't TV be this good more often?

Author: mmiller1 from Dallas, Texas
21 February 2000

This is a richly textured story, filmed with the attention to detail that caused so many of us to plan our Sundays around "Masterpiece Theatre" starting with "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Poldark", (Not to mention "I, Claudius", "The Duchess of Duke Street",...)

In a film where the casting is uniformly superb, it is impossible to do everyone justice. As another commenter mentioned, David Jason and the always magnificent Maggie Smith remind us of a time when noble master and faithful servant were not cliches, but real people with pride, honor, and yes nobility on *both* sides. Additional shining performances from Ian McDiarmid as the vicar who stays home and Patrick Mallahide as the doctor who goes to war.

I thought that "Johnny Got His Gun" (A+ book, B- movie) had given us the last word on WWI (or the 14-18 war as some call it.) I was wrong, and this film proves it.

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13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

BBC's "Saving Private Ryan"

Author: BWag from Norwood, NJ
27 February 2000

Surprisingly graphic for British TV, this is the wrenching story of a rifle company composed of estate workers from the King's country home at Sandringham, a sort of perfect Camelot from which men go forth to be slaughtered in World War I. Don't look too hard at the mystery of what happened to this unit, which apparently disappeared into the hell of battle at Gallipoli. More important is the metaphor of the illusion of war-worn "glory" hitting the rerality of modern battle. In much the same way that an egg hits a sidewalk.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Lions led by Donkeys

Author: Glenn Wade from United Kingdom
23 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Few screen depictions ever hammer home the blunt and pointless nature of the Great War, especially the futile Gallipoli Campaign. This much under-rated BBC film achieves just that, an historical tableau never matched since on the small screen.

The cast contains the cream of British acting talent, including David Jason, Maggie Smith, David Troughton and Patrick Malahide. The story, in a nutshell, is that of the Sandringham Company, a territorial unit formed by Frank Beck, agent on the Sandringham Royal Estate for King George V and his mother Queen Alexandria. The Company is dispatched to Turkey and go down in legend as advancing into action whilst being enveloped in a cloud, rumoured to be the hand of God. Their fate is determined after their bodies are discovered several years later with bullet wounds to the skulls. They had, for the most part, been executed by the Turks after surrendering.

The graphic nature of the conflict is commendably realised and the veneer of heroism and medals stripped when we see the horrors and cruelty of war in it's starkest form. The death of Captain Claude Howlett, the tortured Boer War veteran, is one of the most moving ever witnessed on film. Patrick Malahide once again displays his unique gift like few others are able to.

This is certainly not for those who are used to the rather bloodless 'Gunga Din' depiction of warfare that has been made but if you desire a few hours of historical enlightenment and superb performances by some of the finest actors in the world, then this made for television film is the piece de resistance.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The BBC at its very best

Author: rboon33455 from Llandudno, Wales
8 July 2008

"All the King's Men" is a richly textured piece of television drama, sensitively directed by Julian Jarrold. Its carefully nuanced script explores the horrors of the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey in World War One and the myth surrounding the mysterious "disappearance" of the Sandringham Regiment, who were drawn from King George the Fifth's estate.The men are led by Captain Frank Beck,the agent on the estate, who with the support of the Queen Mother defies the King and, despite his age, leaves Sandringham to lead the men who he has trained and whose lives he has been intimately involved with on the estate. Through the excellent performance of David Jason we see a man of some nobility of spirit,used to respecting his superiors all his life,trying to do his best in a situation where his superiors got it completely wrong.His idealism is nicely contrasted with the humane pragmatism of the regimental doctor who has no such illusions. The truth of a body of men ineptly led and totally unprepared for fighting in an unknown and hostile terrain with appalling logistical support is graphically portrayed and echoes the much better known Australian film, "Gallipoli." The deliberate burying of the truth of what happened(which involved large numbers of men being shot in the head rather than taken prisoner)in order to protect social sensitivities and preserve morale is nicely dealt with through the superbly restrained performance of Maggie Smith as the Queen Mother who is clearly not fooled but never betrays the fact. The film also sympathetically explores the social values of the English class system and particularly the close knit generation of Sandringham workers who made up the regiment. Their naive and in some cases romantic confidence in the right of King and Country fighting with God on their side(despite the fact that they were invading another country)is believably portrayed. The performances of the cast are without exception of a very high class with some excellent cameos. This is the BBC at its very best and I thoroughly recommend it to you!

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Another View of Gallipoli

Author: lhk from Los Angeles
21 February 2000

Director Julian Jarrold (Emmy-nominated "Great Expectations") makes another richly textured film. Beautifully filmed with high production values, it takes us on an emotional journey through the blunderous battle at Gallipoli. Like the more famous movie starring Mel Gibson and Mark Lee, "All the Kings Men" introduces us to the brave soldiers who enthusiastically volunteered to fight for King and Country in World War I. The cast is excellent (if you enjoyed "Great Expectations," you will see many familiar faces here); the story is heart-wrenching.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

I'm usually not a Masterpiece Theater watcher, but . . . (Spoiler Alert!)

Author: Therod from WV
19 March 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

. . . this was a superb film. Oddly, I could not stop watching it.

History lovers, war film lovers, and unexplained phenomena lovers will all be pleased.

An entire company of soldiers (often called The Sandringham Men) mysteriously disappeared in the middle of a Turkish battlefield in 1915. Reports say the company was enveloped by a cloud shaped like a loaf of bread, that seemed to hover over them before floating down and covering them. The mysterious cloud then lifted into the sky and vanished . . . along with the entire Sandringham Company! Over the years, thousands of explanations have spread, including alien abduction. To this day, no "official" explanation has been given. Nor has any trace of The Sandringham Men ever been found.

Now, this aside, the production quality of the film itself was spectacular! The cinematography, the music, the effects, all helped to drive this picture home. Everyone did a tremendous job in portraying their on-screen personas, making every scene believable.

A great film, all around!

My Grade: A

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Not Riveting, But Well Done

Author: sddavis63 ( from Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada
15 November 2011

There are basically three aspects of this film to be commented upon. First is the film as a study of social class in early 20th century Britain. When it's in England, the film is set at Sandringham, the home of Queen Alexandra, the widow of Edward VII and mother of George V. The portrayal is of a very warm relationship (prim and proper certainly, but very sincere) between the servants on the estate (and especially Captain Beck, played by David Jason) and the royals. It wasn't a relationship of equals, certainly, but it certainly seemed more than a typical master- servant relationship as well. The film follows Beck's efforts to recruit a company from among the Sandringham servants to go overseas in 1915 during the Great War, and then follows their progress once sent to the Dardanelles to face the Turks. This was the second aspect of the film: as war story. There was some very realistic action scenes, and also a lot of pretty dry material, which probably sums up war and military life pretty well - times of great excitement and even terror followed by longer times of drudgery and monotony. Finally, the film deals with the mystery of the Sandringham regiment - which went off to battle and never returned, with no one knowing exactly what had happened to it, although the film offers a compelling (and probably accurate story) that most of the men were either killed in battle or were executed after being taken prisoner by the Turks. All three aspects of the story were fairly well told; the interspersing of the mystery and its solution toward the end seemed to interrupt the overall flow of the story a bit.

The performances were quite good, especially Jason as the typical (or stereotypical?) "keep a stiff upper lip" British officer, and Maggie Smith's as Queen Alexandra, also trying to keep that upper lip stiff, but portrayed as caring very deeply about the Sandringham regiment and especially Beck, with whom she is described as having a very warm (but proper) relationship.

This being as much about the role of social class as war, it's not your typical war movie, with sustained action and lots of battle scenes. It is, in fact, far from that. It's a very human movie, exploring the intricacies of individual lives and relationships. It's not explicit, but it seemed to me that there was a general point being made about the pointlessness of war and the human cost involved in war - both for the soldiers and those left behind.

It's not a riveting movie. I would say that it accomplishes the purpose it set out for itself, which is more than a lot of movies are able to claim. (6/10)

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

good film; not a mystery

Author: xyl_54 from United Kingdom
20 October 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

while I agree with other posters about the quality of this film (the characters, acting and storyline were impressive) I can't say the same for the "mystery" aspect of the incident in Gallipolli it is based on. It is a myth that no official explanation exists; the incident is recorded in detail in the regimental history of the Norfolk regiment, to which the Sandringham company belonged. It is also a myth that no trace of the men was ever found; whilst their fate was unknown during the war (hence the mystery) their graves were recorded in 1920. The sad truth seems to be that most of the men perished in the battle, and those that did not died as prisoners of war

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