Guy Crouchback,heir to a declining English Roman Catholic family returns to England from Italy at the start of World War Two and joins the Royal Corps of Halberdiers,along with various ... See full summary »
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Guy Crouchback,heir to a declining English Roman Catholic family returns to England from Italy at the start of World War Two and joins the Royal Corps of Halberdiers,along with various eccentrics though his attempts to get back with his wife Virginia,from whom he is separated,fail. After being implicated in a colleague's death he is sent to train a commando brigade on a Scottish island and ends up on Crete,taking part in its evacuation and escaping to Egypt with fellow officers Ludovic and Ivor Claire. He is returned to England courtesy of Mrs Stitch to possibly prevent him from naming Claire as a deserter. Guy marries Virginia a second time by which timer she has a child by ex-lover Trimmer. Whilst Guy is in Yugoslavia having a confusing time with the partisans Virginia is killed,along with Guy's uncle Peregrine,by a doodlebug bomb. Guy returns to England after getting involved in charitable agencies and eventually remarries. Written by
don @ minifie-1
Once again a substantial literary work (3 novels) has been shoehorned into 200 minutes or so of television but this time without the gross omissions that usually occur in exercises of this kind. Partly this is because of the fair amount of action which takes up a lot of literary space but which can be economically depicted on the screen.
Evelyn Waugh had a pretty scrappy Second World War, but he used his illegally kept diary to good effect. His semi-autobiographical hero, Guy Crouchback goes into what he thinks is a God - ordained crusade against evil, only to discover that the war is the ideal environment for liars, cheats, cowards and phonies of all varieties. His egregious acquaintance Trimmer becomes a war hero by accident and is promoted to Colonel. The evil Corporal Ludovic who murders his C O gets commissioned while good men die everywhere. Every attempted noble act by Guy misfires, and only at the end does he finally achieve some nobility as the putative father of Trimmer's child.
Guy's position is not helped by the fact that his once and later wife Virginia (Megan Dodds) is a vain little tramp who uses men so obviously it's a wonder they are taken in. Guy's emotional IQ is so low he manages to fall for her twice. Well, perhaps the second time around he was after some nice redeeming suffering - he did have some insight - but in retrospect Virginia's demise seems a blessed relief.
Generally though, this was a decent effort. Highlights included the Crete and Croatian sequences and the great portrayals of Ludovic, Major Hound and Brigadier Ritchie-Hook the truly crazy brave military idiot, who was at least able to admit that he enjoyed all that killing'n stuff. Daniel Craig's Guy is also a very measured performance. He has a face on which one can read inner suffering like one reads a weather dial. It was also nice to see that perennial lightweight Leslie Phillips (of 'Carry On' fame) bringing some gravitas to the role of Guy's aristocratic father.
I haven't read the books in this case, but if the portrayal of Mrs Stitch, the society grand dame in the production is anything like that in the trilogy it's a wonder Lady Diana Cooper, who was still alive when they were published, didn't sue. Lady Diana is thought to be the real-life model for the character, who cheats on her absent husband with a young war hero, destroys Guy's mail and pulls strings to get him transferred back to England so he can't blow the gaff on what her 'hero' really did in Crete (desertion).
Anyway, I am now inspired to read the books, which on previous experience should be no hardship. Evelyn Waugh was an intriguing character who started out as an angry young literary man in the 1920s and finished up a reactionary old fart in the 1960s, his time long gone. Yet he was one of the greatest English literary stylists of the 20th century, equally adept at satire ('Decline and Fall', 'Scoop') and serious work ('Brideshead Revisited', Sword of Honour'). This production suitably honours his memory and isn't a bad bit of television in its own right.
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