Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The High Command|
Actors: Frank Atkinson, Lionel Atwill, Archibald Batty, Lil Dagover, Karl Ludwig Diehl
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Kids & Family
A decorated WWI Veteran must come to terms with a crime he committed in the confusion of war. Will his sense of honor and duty ultimately be his undoing or can he find a way to ease his emotional pain?
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Foreign service coarsens men so
Steven Hellerstedt | 11/02/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Entertaining, if dated, tale of honor and responsibility, HIGH COMMAND (1936) is a pleasant surprise.
Lionel Atwill stars as a British officer whose men are ambushed in Ireland in 1921. During the firefight he shoots and kills one of his men. An army doctor collects the bullet along with other incriminating evidence. Charges are never brought against Atwill, but the doctor retains the evidence.
Flash forward 15 years and travel south to the west coast of Africa, colonial Nigeria, where now-General Atwill assumes command of the local military garrison. Coincidentally, the bullet pulling doctor is also newly assigned to the same post.
Having briskly laid a clear foundation, HIGH COMMAND dodders about a bit introducing us to the African cast of characters. Atwill has a step-daughter who would suffer more from the resulting scandal if the incriminating bullet was ever used against him. The local business leader has an oily lack of charm and a beautiful, promiscuous wife. James Mason is a junior officer with a winning smile and the mandatory pencil moustache.
It's in this setting, among these people, that Atwill will ultimately have to redeem and preserve his honor. On one level, all is well. The technology is relatively primitive but an adroit director (Thorold Dickinson) compensates with some slick camera work (i.e., with the freshly extracted bullet in tight focus in the foreground, the door in the far background opens. The camera focuses through the bullet onto the figure in the door, bullet owner Lionel Atwill.) The acting is uniformly restrained and convincing - Atwill is quite good as the somewhat stuff-shirted general.
The biggest hurdle I encountered was relating to any of the characters. I felt the treatment of the native West Africans was so condescending and out of sync with modern values that it was a major distraction. Relating to the leisured colonel class was difficult, as well. I can't fault a movie for being left behind as times change, but its outmoded sensibilities were alienating. Rather than becoming emotionally involved with Atwill's dilemma, which the movie asked of me, I observed his plight from a distance.
I bought this dvd for less than the cost of postage to mail it to me. The cover tells us it's "Sound Enhanced," which is a little vague. Whatever it means, the sound is very good for a film this age. Better than the great majority of dvd copies of films from that era. The picture quality is above average, as well.