Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Cult Movies: Reach for Glory

Hardly ever seen now, Philip Leacock's 1962 film REACH FOR GLORY is the film version of a highly praised novel "The Custard Boys" by John Rae, a headteacher at Westminster College, in 1960, with the blurb: "During World War II, teenage boys in a small English town are consumed with jingoism and brutal war games, hoping dearly that the war won't end before they can fight in it. John, one of the younger members, is increasingly torn between these peer group values and his deepening homoerotic friendship with Mark, a gentle Jewish refugee whom his gang has ostracized as a sissy and a coward." It is rather suggestive of LORD OF THE FLIES, leading as it does to tragedy, and starts with the boys chasing and killing a cat. The main adults are the estimable Harry Andrews and Kay Walsh as hero John Curlew's parents, and Michael Anderson as Lewis Craig, the bullying leader of the gang, as the boys are encouraged in their war games, but love and affection are very suspect - life during wartime! The worst thing here is to be a coward, as John realises, coping with his blustering father (Andrews) and his deepening friendship with the Jewish boy Mark Stein.

Leacock was a very prolific director, very good with children, who in the '50s directed films like THE SPANISH GARDENER [review at Dirk Bogarde label], and later went on to a successful career in American television with the likes of THE WALTONS, DYNASTY and FALCON CREST. This though is a nice small little back and white film, which I managed to catch once as a supporting feature, but have now got a dvd copy. It's been well worth the wait.
I read the book as a teenager, and as it was about teenagers, it was fascinating - like the novel of ALL FALL DOWN by James Leo Herlihy.

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