Sunday, June 18, 2017

King & Country (1964)

Warner-Pathé (UK)
Directed by Joseph Loosey
My rating: 3 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(Blu-ray, VCI Entertainment)

Private Tom Courtenay is accused of desertion when he "walks away" from the front lines in WWI. Dirk Bogarde is assigned to defend him in his hastily assembled trial. Initially skeptical, Bogarde comes to believe that Courtenay was suffering from shell shock and other mitigating circumstances. He tries to convince the brass at the trial, but they have no interest in his explanations or excuses. Courtenay is convicted and sentenced to death by higher commanders to serve as an example. Claustrophobic film takes place entirely in the trenches under a perpetual rainfall, moodily captured in black and white by cinematographer Denys Coop. Real photographs from WWI are occasionally seen, and one of a body lying in the mud is particularly effective as a dissolve shot. Still, it lacks narrative excitement, is excessively talky and the explanation for his supposed desertion is murky, perhaps deliberately so.

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