Monday, 3 May 2010


I suspect that Willis Hall's play comes over much more powerfully on stage. Leslie Norman's film version, filmed entirely on sound stages, never really tries to open the story out. While the reason is obviously that to do so would have seriously damaged the integrity of the original it also means that as a film it becomes fatally, in my view, artificial. I'd be interested to see Hammer Films' very similar YESTERDAY'S ENEMY again to compare how they dealt with similar production problems. The excellent cast is led by Richard Todd as a tough, experienced sergeant with a blot on his career that haunts him and he is ably supported by, amongst others, Laurence Harvey, Richard Harris, Ronald Frasier and David McCallum. One certainly can't fault the talent involved although performances struck me as stage rather than film orientated - the exception being Richard Todd who underplays convincingly and makes his character seem more real than just a cypher. The film's theme - an ethical question about whether or not to kill a Japanese prisoner - is cliched and contrived but, as I've said, no doubt works better on the stage than on film. It's rather strained seriousness coupled with the studio bound artificiality finally sank the film for me but it remains an interesting attempt at filming a play which is still popular and still performed after Fifty odd years. Rating ***

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