Criterion Sunday 225: Tunes of Glory (1960)

I don’t think the liner notes are wrong to suggest this 1960 film is an underrated classic: like a lot of British movies of the period — ones which rely on solid acting and their carefully scripted themes — it sort of gets lost amongst the various European New Wave films which were making a splash with formal innovations and a looser street-bound sense of place. Instead this is largely based in the single setting, a barracks in Edinburgh, where two military officers with contrasting management styles face off against one another: the rowdy and boisterous (and flame-haired Scot) played by Alec Guinness, and his replacement, the controlled authoritarian Englishman played by John Mills. It becomes a film about the reverberations of class throughout the power hierarchies of British life, not to mention — at a more quotidian level — what it’s like to work under a bad manager. Both leads do excellent acting work, and there’s a coolness to the colour cinematography that’s also striking.


FILM REVIEW: Criterion Collection
Director Ronald Neame | Writer James Kennaway (based on his own novel) | Cinematographer Arthur Ibbetson | Starring Alec Guinness, John Mills, Susannah York, John Fraser | Length 106 minutes || Seen at a friend’s home (DVD), London, Sunday 26 August 2018

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Sunshine on Leith (2013)


NEW RELEASE FILM REVIEW || Director Dexter Fletcher | Writer Stephen Greenhorn (based on his stage musical) | Cinematographer George Richmond | Starring Peter Mullan, Jane Horrocks, George MacKay, Antonia Thomas, Freya Mavor | Length 100 minutes | Seen at Cineworld Haymarket, London, Monday 7 October 2013 || My Rating 2.5 stars likeable


© Entertainment Film

I was born in Edinburgh and spent the first ten years of my life there, which means I’m left with peculiarly rose-tinted memories of the place, untouched by the kinds of behaviour essayed in films like Shallow Grave or Trainspotting (the latter of which is cutely referenced here). And much though I applaud the attempt to make this musical resonate with real working-class lives, I’m left feeling it has the same PG-rated optimistic glow of childhood memories running through it as I do.

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