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.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

British double bill

THE ANGRY SILENCE. One 1960 British film I had not seen before from that 'kitchen-sink' era, but I remember it well as it attracted a lot of publicity at the time, when I was 14. About a wildcat strike at a midlands factory and the motives of the various people involved, it plays like a serious version of I’M ALL RIGHT JACK and it’s a riveting view now, capturing as it does that lost world of busy factories, workers arriving on the bicycles, the furnished rooms and apartments they live in. Richard Attenborough is a dependable guy, married to Italian Pier Angeli, and Michael Craig lodges with them. (I remember having that "Picture Show" magazine, above).
Then unrest at the factory begins, as we see that stranger (Alfred Burke) arrive in town, is he perhaps there to stir up trouble?, we also see his leaving at the end, job done. Bernard Lee is the pushy union man looking for any opportunity to strike, Geoffrey Keen and Laurence Naismith the worried but decent factory bosses. Young Oliver Reed and Brian Bedford are among the young layabouts wanting to cause trouble.
 Attenborough gets sent to Coventry by his former workmates and friends as he refuses to join their strike, so no one will talk to him. This leads to tragedy, his son too is bullied at school, as his wife Anne gets more and more frantic. 
Pier Angeli (above) is a stand-out here, in maybe her best role. (She and Attenborough were in the 1959 programmer SOS PACIFIC (review at Pier Angeli label), which maybe led to her casting her). Craig is reliable as usual, the film is scripted by Bryan Forbes (who also appears) from an idea by Craig and his brother Richard Gregson (who went on to marry Natalie Wood). It remains a riveting slice of life from that era. Directed by Guy Green (that ace cinematographer on Lean's GREAT EXPECTATIONS, who became a director).

KING & COUNTRY. The one Joseph Losey film which never made any money, I had not seen it since its release in 1964 and it never cropped up since (outside of Losey retrospectives at the BFI),  but there it was on late night television, along with BILLY LIAR and THE ANGRY SILENCE, on a minor cable channel.
During World War I, an army private is accused of desertion during battle. The officer assigned to defend him at his court-martial finds out there is more to the case than meets the eye.
This, from a play “Hamp” scripted by Evan Jones, and it seems star Dirk Bogarde (back with Losey after THE SERVANT) also had a hand in it. It is the downbeat story of a private in the First World War, tried for desertion and executed, as he simply walked away from the guns and carnage, obviously shell-shocked. Confined to one set, we are in the muddy trenches with the common soldiers (Jeremy Spencer and gang) as officers Dirk Bogarde, Leo McKern, James Villiers prepare their case against Private Hamp – 
Tom Courtenay in another sterling performance as the innocent who does not realise the enormity of what he did and what will happen to him, in this brutal system. 
This was an ‘X Certificate’ film at the time, I cannot see why now. It is strong stuff though, bleak and unrelenting, particularly that climax when Bogarde puts the injured soldier out of his misery. Made in 18 days and for not very much money, it is certainly one rare item it is good to see again, and how it fits into the Losey canon between THE SERVANT and MODESTY BLAISE and ACCIDENT. 
KING & COUNTRY is now available on dvd, and, for UK viewers, is being screened again by Film4 this time, next Tuesday afternoon, 15th, and will be repeated the following week. 

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