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22nd January 1879, Rorke's Drift. Natal Province. On that day an epic battle
was fought between 4000 Zulu warriors and approx. 100 British
Now I have noticed many of our American cousins have made remarks in their reviews of Zulu, to the effect that the soldiers were nasty-pasty British Empire builders and that they all deserved to choke on their own vomit, however the film does not try to justify the Zulu War or it's origins so I will not either, suffice it to say that you shouldn't be expressing assumptions and opinions on nineteenth century political attitudes with such an obvious twenty-first century viewpoint. They are two very different worlds which cannot be compared.
This film is beautifully shot and scripted, and the the John Barry musical score keeps the battle scenes moving well. It seems to makes the sometimes long periods of heavy fighting pass by quicker. Barry took authentic Zulu songs and chants and added the dramatic score around them to make an original and haunting theme which still ranks as one of his greatest film score offerings.
Stanley Baker is fantastic as Lt. Chard, the Royal Engineer who is able to use his skill in successfully fortifying the little hospital outpost against the onslaught of the foe.
Micheal Caine plays Lt. Bromhead the professional line soldier and upper class officer who after a little whining and grumbling accepts his position of second in command and fights valiantly in the battle. It was this film that propelled Caine to international stardom, so powerful was his performance.
Other noted cast members include James Booth as an excellent but inaccurate Hook, and Nigel Green as Colour-Sergeant Frank Bourne the typical Victorian Sergeant-major complete with side whiskers and moustache.
The Great Jack Hawkins who did not like the character he played or his work on the film, portrayed Otto Witt, the pacifist missionary with a drink problem and again it is another performance worthy of an award. It was upsetting however to hear in his voice, his wonderfully clipped speaking voice, the early effects of the throat cancer which had by this time plagued him for three years and which was eventually to lead to his death.
Also special mention to Richard Burton, who narrated the whole show. He truly had one of the best dramatic voices in the world and speaks his lines beautifully.
It was also good to see the Zulu's portrayed with dignity and honour rather than just mere savages with bones through their noses. They were a brave and strong opponent that day and they are deserving of tribute as much as the British.
The basis of this film is taken from historical fact, although certain characters and events have either been altered, erased or just plain fabricated for dramatic purposes. I hope that should any producers in the future be foolish enough to attempt a remake of this classic epic, they will put historical accuracy first and Hollywood sensationalism second if at all.
Enough has been said by others regarding the blatant slander of Private Henry Hook, so I will not elaborate on it, save that it was a gross slur on the bravest of men. I hope should the film ever be remade his honour will be restored and his gallant deeds on that day be portrayed accurately.
To quash further popular myths none of the film is shot on the exact spot at which the battle took place, (the real Rorke's Drift was in fact about 60 miles from the location shoot.)
The regiment in question did not become the South Wales Borderers until two years after the battle and was at the time a Warwickshire Regiment. They were however based in Brecon which is where the Welsh connection was born and would explain why there was a higher amount of Welsh nationals attached to it.
Despite this the regiment consisted mainly of Englishmen and only about 12 percent were in fact from Wales. With these demographics being how they are I can assure you, "Men of Harlech" would not have been sung at Rorke's Drift, (at least not without the culprit being bayoneted by an Englishman with ear-ache.)
Lt. Chard himself was an Englishman having been born in Plymouth into an established and respected Somerset family. This being the case, I find it funny that although Stanley Baker never refers to Chard as a Welshman, he none the less seems to revel in promoting Welsh pride at ever opportunity. Of the eleven V.C's won in the battle, only three of them were awarded to Welshman so why the big Welsh message Boyo?
Also the final salute made by the Zulu's did not occur. When they re-appeared on the hill they returned with the sole intention of finishing off the gallant soldiers at the outpost, but decided against it when they noticed a sizable relief column approaching Rorke's Drift from the south.
Finally, a few people have made references to Colour-Sergeant Frank Bourne, wondering whether or not he really existed and if so why he was never awarded the V.C. for his conduct on the day. Yes, he really existed and yes, he did fight at Rorke's Drift. He was in fact recommended for a Victoria Cross, but told the powers that be that he would rather have a promotion instead. This he was given along with a D.C.M and an O.B.E. He was the last surviving veteran of Rorke's Drift when he died on V.E. Day 8th May 1945 aged 91 and with a rank of Lt. Col.
For more historic information about The Battle of Rorke's Drift and it's combatants, I recommend you visit www.rorkesdriftvc.com.
So its fluffy and predictable. It's unrealistic and sickly sweet. Who
cares...this film pretends to be nothing more than what it is intended to
be. Light romantic comedy.
Since stars like Cary Grant, Kathrine Hepburn and Irene Dunne, lit up our cinema screens in the 1930's with films like The Awful Truth, Bringing up Baby and My Favorite Wife, Hollywood and of course the movie going public have reserved a special place in their hearts for RomComs, screwballs and battle of the sexes comedies.
Identical plots, Identical jokes but none the less jokes and plots that will never go out of style and will always be relevant in any age or location, whether it be New York of the 30's or New York in the present day.
Hollywood has always worked on the basis that they stick to what has been tried and tested and has proved to work, that is why with a small plot change and a rehash of old jokes and situations they are able to reinvent their movies for a new generation of film buffs. It was through this formula that Doris Day and friends were able to continue RomCom history throughout the 60's and every one of them box office winners.
A recent example of this would be Down With Love starring Ewan McGregor and Rene Zelwegger. Who could not see plot comparisons to Pillow Talk or Lover Come Back? Yet it did not make this film any less enjoyable. Our entertainment lies in seeing our actors of the day fill the roles of the great actors of yesterday and how the scripts and jokes are adapted and told within a backdrop of 21st century life etc.
Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson made this film with impeccable comic timing and enjoyable performances. Of course with Goldie Hawn for a mother, Hudson comes straight from comic stock so I would have been disappointed if she failed to meet the challenge but she didn't. Some of her facial expressions and mannerisms almost had me convinced I was watching an old episode of "Laugh In"
McConaughey also held his own and proved himself to be a gifted comic as he did in the Wedding Planner.
This plot seemed quite original and as a battle of the sexes comedy, they seldom come as good as this. Again the formula was followed and we were under no illusion on what the final outcome would be, but their journey to this ultimate destination is what we find entertaining.
This type of film has been popular for seventy plus years and their simularities are what makes them so. Instead of slamming them..watch some of the predecessors and appreciate their origins.
Be thankful they are still making these types of movies today as in an era which is threatening to be devoured by action thrillers, fantasy adventure and shoot 'em ups this seems to be the only diversity left in motion pictures.
Take a run down cargo ship with a motley crew, throw in a pacific
island paradise and sign on board four of the biggest Hollywood
heavyweights ever, then you are bound to have winning motion picture
which stands the test of time.
Henry Fonda re-creates his Broadway role as Lt.Douglas Roberts a navy cargo officer, desperately aching to be transfered from what is nothing more than a floating warehouse, to a destroyer and a chance to get into the fighting.
James Cagney in what is arguably the best of his later roles, plays the selfish and ambitious Captain, who knows that Roberts' work is the key to his own success. With this motive in mind he blocks all of Roberts' requests and makes his life as miserable as possible into the bargain.
It is this story line that provides most of the drama albeit played with a touch of comic frivolity. The true comedy however is provided by Jack Lemmon as the good natured but lazy Ensign, Frank Thurlough Pulver.
Lemmon was a relative newcomer to the movies but none of that seemed evident in his performance. He held his own against three of the best in the business and was awarded an Oscar for his efforts.
However, the highlight of this film for me is the great William Powell as the aging and quick witted Doc.. His comic timing and sophisticated presence was an invaluable asset to any film he made and Mister Roberts is no exception.
Whether he is wise cracking with the crew at sick call or making illegal scotch with his shipmates, Powell steals every scene in which he appears. My personal favourite is when he is called to the captains cabin....ON THE DOUBLE, and he is seen casually strolling slowly and carefree smoking a cigarette, almost as if he was on the Park Avenue of the 1930's where he had made his name.
Cagney's scenes with Lemmon are hilarious. He was a considerate actor and at times you can almost feel the space that he gave Lemmon in order for him to shine. Also the scene in which Fonda confronts Cagney, to ensure the crews liberty, is expertly acted. A must see on the newly released DVD (with commentary by Jack Lemmon himself) is a clip from a 1955 Ed Sullivan show where Fonda and Cagney re-create the scene live and the acting cannot be faulted.
In more than just plot, this film has high points and low points. The high point was the welcome celluloid return of Henry Fonda after an absence of eight years whilst he played Mister Roberts on the New York stage. The low point being, that this was to be William Powell's final movie venture. He had retired in 1953 after How to Marry a Millionaire, but was lured back for "Roberts" by an overwhelming script. But this was to be a final return and I think as swan songs go William Powell indeed had the best.
It was also a troubled production with two directors and constant fall outs with Fonda over the adaptation. To Fonda, Mister Roberts was a work of art he didn't want to see defaced, and he argued bitterly over changes from the original format. Yet the theatre going public and the cinema going public were two different species and the changes were needed.
They must have found the right balance however because we are presented with a flawless motion picture with equal amounts of drama and humour, happiness and sadness and anger and goodwill. This film has the ability to touch everyone on at least one level.
A must-see film with unequaled performances. Recommended.
What a fantastic movie to climax DeMille's illustrious career.
Charlton Heston, king of the biblical epics, shines brightly as Moses, the one time Egyptian Prince, who now carries staff and perm in order to work Gods will and free his enslaved people from bondage.
Yul Brynner, in what I believe to be his finest turn before the camera plays Rameses the Pharoah who's hateful relationship with Moses spans the entire epic. He is charismatic and shows off the arrogance of a stubborn Pharoah to perfection. This is indeed a film stealing performance.
The beautiful Anne Baxter is at her sultry best as Nefretiri, the woman who would be queen to Rameses, but a slave in love to Moses. However the character is complex and I certainly had trouble in deciding who's side she was on in this epic battle of good verses evil. In the beginning she claims not to care for Moses' discovered background and is willing to be with him no matter what, however as the film progresses she does nothing but ridicule him and belittle him in true anti-semitic fashion.
Edward G. Robinson, Vincent Price, John Derek, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Yvonne De Carlo, Nina Foch, John Carradine, and Debra Paget all lend fine and memorable support, to an already colourful and breathtaking experience.
Incidentally it is worth mentioning that so convincing was Martha Scott in her role as Moses' mother Yochabel, that she was given the chance to play Charlton Heston's mother again in the later epic Ben-Hur.
Another interesting fact is, it was Charlton Heston's own voice who spoke the words of God. It was Heston's own idea that to hear God would be to feel God from within, which is why he thought it would be interesting to hear His voice as his own.
A remake of DeMille's earlier screen adaptation of the fine book of Exodus, many can see why this film ranks as his ultimate achievement. The sets were lavish and the story handled with suitable reverence and dignity.
People today often make the mistake of comparing older films like this to the modern epics of today with regards to their effects and they quite wrongly categorize them as inferior. Today anyone can create CGI images on their PC. Even my three year old daughter can make something look convincing with a mouse and a keyboard and although these effects are great, people have to remember that CGI was not available in 1956.
Okay there are a few obvious matte backdrops used here, but to achieve the effects they did nearly fifty years ago was an outstanding and impressive feat which took talent and knowledge. I tend to look upon these effects as superior because it took the use of mans own brain to bring them about. The human brain is the best computer available, yet one seldom used in todays world. So please take this on board before you slam The Ten Commandments for it's "cheap and nasty" look as one reviewer called it.
This movie is ALMOST faultless, even the length is forgivable as I was so engrossed, I hardly notice the time passing.
One fact that did rouse my curiosity was Moses' appearance throughout the film. I know he went to speak to God at the burning bush, but did he really have to stop off at the salon on the way back? Or did God appear to Moses complete with curling tongs and hair dryer? "Just a little off the top Oh Lord."
And why did Moses seem to age more than everyone else? It seemed like he went from a youthful dark to everyones favourite Santa in the space of a week.
This aside, this film is a fantastic piece of cinema and must rate as a personal favourite of all fans of Biblical epics.
I am sick of defending romantic comedies on this site. Every time a new one
hits our screens IMDb is absolutely inundated with reviews containing the
words, boring and predictable.
Most of the time these reviews are written by people who are just annoyed that nobody was killed or nobody fired a gun or blew up a building or whatever. GROW UP.
This is the last time I'm going to say this but romantic comedies work to a successful formula which have worked well for seventy odd years and that is why they are successful, they are not going to change them and we certainly hope they don't so everyone please stop moaning for heavens sake. Maybe your action movies are a bit "same ol' same ol'" but do we slag them off to you? NO. So CAN IT.
Now my little rant and rave is over onto the film in question.
Sandra Bullock is in my opinion the greatest living comedy actress alive today. She is sexy and gifted and has the perfect talent and timing to easily take over the mantle of stars like Irene Dunne, Jean Arthur, Katherine Hepburn, Doris Day and more recently Meg Ryan as a true queen of Rom-Com.
It's my opinion that in fifty years time Sandra Bullock will be regarded as a screen great like the great actresses mentioned above. She has the ability to adapt between comedic and dramatic roles with perfect ease making us cry or laugh with equal vigour. I suppose she is almost like a female version of Cary Grant in that respect.
In Two Weeks Notice she is given so much chance to make us laugh and she fails to miss one of them. I especially like the part when she says she can also speak German and Japanese and then turns down an offer using both, followed by one of her rye giggles....hilarious and clever.
Hugh Grant, never really strays too far away from Hugh Grant but again as in the case of Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler this persona is what has made him a star and that is what he successfully does. It seems however that in this film he does it better than in any other film before.
It's a love story between a radical left wing lawyer (Bullock) and a capitalist, heartless tycoon (Grant).
He's been using her for her intellect and she has been using him and his money for her own charitable organizations, but when she decides to quit, the last two weeks sees their relationship change into something neither of them seem to want to part with.
The script is funny and fast paced and both are handed good comedy material to sink their teeth into. Hugh Grant is surrounded by beautiful women throughout the film giving him the opportunity to work his English charm school act, and with another sexy secretary in the picture, Bullock is given her opportunity to spar in her own inimitable way. The schoolyard type fight over the stapler is a great example and gut-wrenchingly funny.
An enjoyable film and one deserving pride of place on any DVD shelf. Incidentally check out the feature commentary between Bullock, Grant and Marc Lawrence. It's very funny and shows that the magic between them poured right off the film and leaked into real life.
As for one of the previous reviewers who referred to Sandra Bullock as FAT, I lay my gauntlet at your feet sir and it's pistols at ten. You may like her acting or loathe her, but fat she ain't.
This is a movie milestone in my life.
I have chosen this handle and this film to be my first review on this site because it was the very first film I ever watched.
However my enjoyment was limited due to the fact that I was five days old at the time. This resulted in a rather poor grasp of the plot and an overall lack of excitement from beginning to end. The story goes that the day my twin brother and I were taken home from hospital after our birth, Scaramouche was the evening film on the BBC and we were given our baths completely oblivious to the movie gem we were being treated to on our first night in our new home.
I personally do not remember this but I have been reliably informed that this is so.
Over the years however, I have acquired a great passion for the films of the golden age and Scaramouche, although not the best of films, is definitely a classic.
Stewart Granger plays Andre Moroe a free spirit, who's life has amounted to nothing more than his constant pursuit of fun and wealthy ladies in 17th Century France. However the murder of his closest friend, a revolutionist in the making, turns him into a man driven by revenge. However there is one tiny drawback as the man on whom he seeks vengeance is the best swordsman in France and Andre has never held a sword in his life. But he is determined to learn it's ways in order to meter out his terrible revenge.
Immediately taking up lessons he wastes no time in becoming an expert fencer........about half an hour in fact.
This however is for me the most entertaining part of the film as the student out-fences the teachers in a series of montage images. It also contains one of the best uses of the English Language I have ever seen on film....or maybe I'm just easily pleased.
'if i can no longer be taught by the man who taught my enemy, then what is more fitting in a mad world,than to be taught by the man who taught the man who taught my enemy' Catchy eh?
However all this time Moroe is evading the villain's men by hiding out in a circus of sorts where he has adopted the role of the masked Scaramouche.....the clown.
It is at one of his performances where Moroe comes face to face with his friends killer and in true Hollywood fashion, they duel in and out of the shocked spectators hanging over perilous ledges and high theatre balconies and of course up and down grand staircases.
Mel Ferrer is wonderful as the evil Demain and gives his role an almost Bond villain presence with his charm ans sophistication, and for love interest we have both Eleanor Parker and Janet Leigh (before she started taking showers) Yet for once Hollywood decided to put romance on the back burner and these two beauties, although great in the roles, have nothing more to do than parade around in cleavage inducing bodices, although that's fine with me. If this film is your cup of tea or not, it's worth watching for that alone.
There are other aspects of the plot which I need not go into here except that they amount to the "he was my father which makes you my sister" scenario and when the unknown brother is revealed, you will be forgiven in thinking you had tuned into a period edition of EastEnders but despite all this is definitely worth the watch.
Incidentally the final sword fight was the longest sword fight in movie history until Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta Jones fenced their way into the record books in The Mask of Zorro. They may now have the longest but Scaramouche still has the best.
As a lover of history, especially the history of my own nation, I never miss
an opportunity to see a great historical epic, with Kings and Queens
fighting the very battles of words and blood, which have carved our nation
into what it is today.
I also feel that for a film to be educational and informative it has to be accurate and unfortunately Cromwell is never going to win any awards in the 'what really happened' category.
Despite these inaccuracies, the film does give us a general idea of what went on in the England of the 1640's so it still has the power to be enjoyable.
Alec Guinness steals the entire film with the only accurate portrayal in the movie as Charles I. The stuttering Scot who believes in the divine right of Kings. A man who looks upon Parliament as a challenge to his authority over the people, and a head of a protestant state wrestling with his own strong catholic leanings and sympathies.
Richard Harris is outstanding and brilliant, but portrays Cromwell as someone he most certainly wasn't. As an Irishman, it amazes me what ever persuaded him to take on the role. With Cromwell being the most hated Englishman in Irish history, I was surprised he didn't portray him as an evil oppressor and murderer complete with handlebar moustache, top-hat and cape accompanied by Hammond organs and loud hissing sounds from the audience.
Instead Harris' Cromwell is so nice and decent, honourable and just that by movies end he would have been welcomed at any dining table in County Cork.
Cromwell's belief was that Parliament runs the country and the people run the Parliament (reminder for Tony Blair!!!) The system we have today. However during his time as head of a republic state, he seemed to have forgot this and went his own way on nearly everything despite what the people wanted (remind you of anyone Tony Blair!!!)
So again inaccuracies rain on what is on the whole a very good parade.
The battle scenes also fail to excite as they are not filmed on the dramatic scale needed to have done them justice. In fact sometimes they are reminisent of Monty Python's reenactment of the Battle of Pearl Harbour by the Batley Towns-women's Guild.
Watch this film and enjoy it as I did, but I beg of you, don't use it as a basis for a factual thesis in your History Degree...you will fail big time.
I am going to be rather biased in my review of this film as Group
Captain Sir Douglas Bader C.B.E., D.S.O, D.F.C is in my opinion, only
one step lower than the Almighty himself, on par with Churchill,
Wellington and Nelson as one of the greatest Englishmen that ever
Some may argue that he was an arrogant and dogmatic man, and of course in many ways you will be right, but if you had lost both of your legs at the young age of 21 and had to fight every inch of the way just to be treated as an equal rather than a 'cripple', wouldn't you be a bit arrogant too? I know I sure as hell would be.
In those days Englishmen were Englishmen and that meant being forthright and brave, with Bader's situation the way it was, he just had to be a bit more forthright and bit more brave to prove to himself he was not a second rate Englishman, so don't knock him.
He was such a generous and kind man, who worked tirelessly and selflessly, to help people with similar disabilities to his own, especially children.
However his charitable work is not even hinted at in this film, which only covers the period from 1928 when he entered Cranwell R.A.F College, until 1945 and the end of the War.
We see the young Bader excel at sports like Cricket and Rugby and we see him take his first solo flights on his road to becoming not only one of the finest pilots in the R.A.F but one of the foremost aerobatic display pilots in the world.
But we see a dramatic and tragic fall from grace, as on 14th December 1931 Bader stupidly accepts a challenge to perform aerobatics at stupidly low height, and the result is the near fatal crash, which costs Bader both his legs, and the complete destruction of his entire way of life.
We then follow him, through a tough and trying, mental and physical battlefield as he tries to rebuild his shattered life. Bader has to come to terms with each obstacle on his road back to fitness and mobility, and through this film we almost feel as if we are struggling with him, from the first few jerky hops on a 'peg-leg' to the first tottering baby steps on the new state of the art artificial tin legs.
We the audience are so engrossed in his brave fight that we automatically reach out and are ready to catch him as he stumbles.
Once he has returned to full health and after being grounded and 'phased out' by the R.A.F., we follow Douglas into civilian life as he takes on an uninspiring job, his marriage to his beloved wife Thelma, and the pursuit of his new found love of golf, which he feels is a 'sport he can play on equal terms with anyone'
However when the Second World War erupts in 1939, Douglas once again takes up the fight with the R.A.F. in his mission to return to active service.
This time urgency seems to over ride caution and Bader is accepted, and is soon given a command of a squadron, in the run up to the Battle of Britain.
When Bader's own ideas of fighter tactics reach the ears of Fighter Command, he is given latitude to put these ideas in to action, and his squadron is soon joined by two others until eventually Bader was the first person to lead a formation of five squadrons into battle in a tactic known as The Duxford Wing.
However on the 9th August 1941, Bader's Spitfire collided with a Messerschmitt 109 and he was forced to bail out behind enemy lines, and as a result he spent the remainder of the war a P.O.W. in Germany, yet this set back did nothing to curb his British spirit or his dogmatic personality, as he regularly baited, insulted and outwitted the Germans at every occasion, making several escape attempts over the next four years.
The film ends with newly promoted Group Captain Bader, leading the ceremonial Battle of Britain victory fly past over London on 15th September 1945, showing actual footage of the formation, with Bader's Aeroplane flying solo in front.
Paul Brickhill's biography on Bader, on which this film is based, is a must read for anyone who is interested in this extraordinary life, and I thoroughly recommend it, as it goes into the finer detail, a motion picture could not possibly hope to cover.
However, even the book does not give a full biography of the man, as it was printed in 1954, when most of Bader's charitable achievements, the death of his wife, his Knighthood, second marriage and sudden death from heart failure at the age of 72 were still a long way off.
However the plus point of making a bio-pic of a character who was still living, was that Bader was able to have full input into the movie, most notably when it came to the casting of his wife. His exact words on this subject were, 'I'm not going to have some silly tart playing my wife.' But when Bader found out that Muriel Pavlow had been cast he was overjoyed and gave his full approval. Also he became great friends with Kenneth More who portrayed Douglas in the film, in fact the two had become so close he was deeply saddened and affected by More's death which occurred just a few weeks before his own.
However, Kenneth More, is the perfect Bader, Muriel Pavlow is a glamorous and heartfelt Thelma and Lewis Gilbert superbly directs, this story of courage and fortitude, a story of a hero amongst heroes, who despite his appalling disabilities, fights on to become not only a Battle of Britain ace, but an inspiration to millions of people worldwide.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am a lover of British cinema, and also coming from a Royal Navy
family background, I am surprised I have let such a gem of a movie go
unnoticed for so long.
Billy Budd is a magnificent film, well shot and beautifully cast.
Peter Ustinov, David MaCallum and Melvyn Douglas all deliver great performances, but the two film stealing performances come from Robert Ryan as Claggart, the sadistic master-at-arms and Terance Stamp as the affable and likable rating William Budd.
Set aboard a Royal Naval vessel during the height of the Napoleonic Wars, Billy Budd tells the story of one mans overwhelming kindness and goodness and its effect upon a Captain and his officers and crew.
All take Billy to their hearts except Claggart a lash-happy sadist who evil to the extreme, cannot fathom Billy's child-like innocence. He looks upon it as a sort of germ that will contaminate him in some way and sets out to destroy Budd and the high ideals he holds.
Billy, so complete in his goodness, still tries to befriend Claggart, refusing to hate him, and even defending him against an embittered crew out for Claggarts murder.
Billy's kindly disposition towards him only enrages Claggart more and serves to double his attempts to get Budd at his mercy, of which he plans to show none.
It is one such attempt that proves to be the downfall, not only of Claggart and Billy, but the whole crew.
Claggart brings a false accusation of Mutiny against Budd, in an effort to see him hanged. Billy who is unable to speak in periods of high emotion answers in the only form of expression left to him. He lashes out at Claggart dealing him a fatal blow to the head.
There follows a shipboard court-martial, where Billy is put on trial for Claggarts murder.
The Captain and his officers desperately want to acquit Billy. They knew how Claggart had been treating the men and knew in particular of his consuming hatred for Billy. They are also too aware of Billy's nature and they know murder with malice aforethought would be quite beyond him.
However, bound by the combined rules of War and that of the Navy, they have no choice but to impose the sentence of death upon Billy, and all four officers with lumps in their throats and tears in their eyes are forced to sign the article of execution.
One scene that sticks out among all of them, is when the Captain played with a humane but tortured air by Peter Ustinov, visits the condemned Budd in the cell on the night before his hanging.
He tells Billy that 'he is as inhuman in his goodness as Claggart was inhuman in his evilness' He tells Budd that he wishes he could he could have is 'fury and anger' instead of his 'admiration and respect', that had not wained, despite the Captains difficult decision.
'Don't be afraid' He says to Billy.
'I'm not afraid sir,' replies Budd, 'I've always done my duty aboard this ship, I understand that you also have to do yours' With this the Captain rushes from the cell, driven by guilt and overwhelming sadness and no longer able to look upon this man for whom he has the utmost affection but who will have to die upon his order.
I have seen many tear-jerking films, but Budd's final walk to the noose has to be one of the most heartbreaking scenes in any movie, walking slowly from officer to officer, he tries to make eye contact with all of them, flashing them his innocent smile, maybe in an effort to appease the guilt he knows they must be feeling, his final kind and selfless act.
But the officers themselves, grief stricken and guilt ridden, cannot accept this last gesture and force themselves to avert their eyes as he passes.
In the memorable line one of the ratings turns to Dansker, the old danish seaman played by Melvyn Douglas and asks why Claggart was not there witnessing the punishment. (The crew had not been told of Claggarts death which had happened only hours before) Dansker turns to the inquisitive sailor and says, 'he is here.' and turns to look towards the noose flapping unanimously in the wind.
You really feel love and pity for Billy and anger and disgust at the situation as he is drummed to the noose, hoping against hope that every beat would be the one where the Captain would take stock of his senses and reverse the sickening order.
Yet with all, the regrettable hanging takes place not without Billy uttering his final words aloud to the crew, "God bless Captain Vere" another selfless act designed to avert the crew from taking mutinous action against the officers who had brought about his execution.
The Captain, then loses all the detachment of an officer at sea and weeps aloud at the unjust murder he feels he has now committed.
This film has left a lump in my throat which I feel at this very moment, will never subside. I kind, good and decent human being, being sacrificed because of the law....a law that had to operate without the necessary justice which is supposed to back it up.
The Navy of the day I suppose had no choice...today the circumstances would have been taken into account, they would have been carefully weighed on the scales of justice before the sword was used with the other hand.
This film is not to be missed... but the emotionally weak, like I so obviously am, may find the end very upsetting and disturbing.
I recently purchased this film on a special triple bill DVD from an
overly cheap discount store, in fact it was so cheap that the three
movie disc cost me just one single pound of my hard earned British
This film was both fantastic and atrocious in one. An exciting plot, but with laughable performances from the entire cast.
We know that all great actors have to start somewhere and the lone star westerns of the early thirties were what John 'The Duke' Wayne cut his teeth on.
To look at his work in his final film The Shootist in 1976, you can see just how much he had learnt over his 40 years in the business and what a great actor he did eventually become, but to look at his performances in these early days, you can understand why he spent most of the 1930's in relative obscurity.
Although Wayne looks uncomfortable throughout most of these films and his acting is wooden to say the least, it can't all be blamed on him.
These movies were the product of their day and cannot be judged by todays standards. Intended only as supporting features, these long forgotten studios turned out these 'B' movies by the shed load. Badly formed scripts with badly shaped characters must have poured though these fledgling studios like water through a hoop and with a stock company of actors who's style was still formed in the pantomime silent era, they were bound to be a bit cheesy. In fact if in 1933 there were Oscars awarded for the greatest achievement in over acting then this would be the motion picture with greatest ever hoard.
Wayne's character is a notorious gunman with a name that must have put the fear of God into whoever crossed his path, Singing Sandy Saunders.
Laugh? I damn near wet my pants.
And if that wasn't enough to give me the biggest gut wrencher of the century, then George 'Gabby' Hayes certainly iced the cake.
After an appalling song that sounded like two cats fighting over a piece of fish in a metal barrel, the great Gabby uttered the line, "Mmmm. I could listen to that all night." The line itself is worthy of side stitching surgery, but the look of peace and serenity on his face was just too much for the old chuckle muscles which then went on to explode.
I can honestly say that a truly inspired and well written comedy has never made me laugh as much as this film did.
However the story is a good one, with the corrupt businessman holding the town's ranchers to ransom over his monopoly in the water market with a view of buying up all the farms etc.
It survives today as nothing more than a nostalgic glimpse into the past, not only at a bygone era in cinema making, but as a chance to see a real Hollywood legend finding his feet. This alone makes it worth every penny of the thirty-three pence I in effect paid for it.
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