During World War I, Army Private Arthur James Hamp is accused of desertion during battle. The officer assigned to defend him at his court-martial, Captain Hargreaves, finds out there is more to the case than meets the eye.
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James Robertson Justice,
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During World War I, the British troops are entrenched at Passchendaele, Belgium. Amongst the volunteers, there is a young British soldier, Private Arthur James Hamp (Sir Tom Courtenay), who is the sole survivor of his original company. Hamp spent three years in the trenches, and this makes him a veteran. He has never been accused of cowardice, but one day, he simply decides to leave the war behind him and walk all the way home to Britain. In Calais, France, he is challenged by a Military Police patrol, who promptly arrests him for leaving without permission. Hamp's commanding officers decide to convene a court-martial and charge him with desertion. If found guilty, Hamp could be shot by a firing squad. Captain Hargreaves (Sir Dirk Bogarde) is assigned to be Hamp's defending attorney, but he seems skeptical about his chances of acquittal for the deserter. During their first talk, Captain Hargreaves is impressed by his client's utter sincerity and naivete. He learns that his client ...Written by
The memorial shown at the beginning of this movie is the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner in London. It was unveiled on October 18, 1925, updated in 1949 to reflect losses in World War II, and was refurbished in 2011. See more »
The battalion commander mentions a meeting at twenty-hundred hours. 24-hour clocks were only used from the Second World War. See more »
"King & Country," directed by Joseph Losey and released in 1964, is an unrelenting look at war. The World War I drama concerns a young soldier (Tom Courtenay) who is being tried for desertion. It's evident that, after his whole battalion was lost, that the boy was shell-shocked. A Captain Hargreaves (Dirk Bogarde) is brought in to defend him.
The film has actual photos of dead bodies from the London War Museum throughout the movie. The setting is freezing cold, wet bunkers with lots of mud. The men have been jaded to death and suffering and at times act brutally.
The end of the film is particularly awful, that's the only word I can think of. Not awful as in it's a bad movie, but awful in the situation.
Tom Courtenay does an excellent job as a wide-eyed young man who really doesn't realize what he did or what may happen to him as a result; Leo McKern turns in an excellent performance as a no-nonsense officer. Dirk Bogarde is wonderful as the captain who goes to the mat for his client and comes up against a cruel system that seems to have no understanding of or compassion for human frailty.
Lots of gross stuff in this movie - imagine actually having to endure it. Excellent directing job by Losey, and a thought-provoking film that you won't forget quickly, even though you want to.
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