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Monday, April 14, 2014

Tunes of Glory (1960) d. Ronald Neame

Tunes of Glory, still from the film.

Movie Review
Tunes of Glory (1960)
d. Ronald Neame
Criterion Collection #225

  This is the third Ronald Neame directed film from the Criterion Collection that I've seen. There is the delightful Hopscotch (1980), a winning spy picture starring Walter Matthau.  The other is The Horses Mouth, which, like Tunes of Glory, features Alec Guinness.

   Tunes of Glory is about a battled of wills that plays out at Scottish military base in the period after World War II.  Guinness plays an "up from his bootstraps" commanding officer named Jock Sinclair.  Jock is, at you might guess, Scottish, and Guinness is of course amazing.   He can really carry the skirt he has to wear through most of the picture.  Jock is troubled when his replacement arrives and turns out to be the well educated, somewhat effete Lt. Col. Basil Barrow, played by John Mills.  Barrow is from an old military family and doesn't drink whiskey.

  He quickly turns the base on its ear with his strict adherence to rules and regulations, going so far as to order dance lessons at 7:15 AM three times a week because the soldiers dance with their hands above their heads. (?!?)   Sinclair, already upset, drunkenly assaults a fellow soldier when he sees that soldier talking to his only daughter.  Barrow needs to decide whether to file a report, ruining Sinclair's career and earning him the undying hatred of the regiment OR not filing a report and ruining any chance he has to be taken seriously as a commanding officer at the base.

  After Sinclair essentially talks him out of filing the report,  he is told by his lieutenant that the men simply assume that Sinclair is running the show and Barrow is taking orders from him whereupon he quickly shoots himself in the head.   Sinclair goes insane with guilt shortly thereafter AND SCENE.

  All of Neame's pictures are worth a watch on the Criterion Collection Hulu Channel, but I would start with Hopscotch first, then this film, then The Horses Mouth.

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