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Masterpiece Theatre: All the King's Men
Masterpiece Theatre All the King's Men
Actor: David Jason; Maggie Smith; William Ash; Sonya Walger; Stuart Bunce; James Murray (XIII); Ed Waters (II); Tom Burke (IV); Ben Crompton; Eamon Boland; Jo Stone-Fewings; James Hillier (II); David Troughton; Emma Cunniffe; Adam Kotz; Patrick Malahide; Gaye Br
Director: Julian Jarrold
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Educational, Military & War
UR     2005     2hr 0min

The true story of England's vanished regiment is revealed. It is one of the most compelling and curious legends of the First World War. Led by Captain Frank Beck (David Jason), a favorite agent of King George V (David Trou...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: David Jason; Maggie Smith; William Ash; Sonya Walger; Stuart Bunce; James Murray (XIII); Ed Waters (II); Tom Burke (IV); Ben Crompton; Eamon Boland; Jo Stone-Fewings; James Hillier (II); David Troughton; Emma Cunniffe; Adam Kotz; Patrick Malahide; Gaye Br
Director: Julian Jarrold
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Educational, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Drama, Educational, Military & War
Studio: WGBH Boston
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 11/01/2005
Original Release Date: 02/20/2000
Theatrical Release Date: 02/20/2000
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Missing in Action
R. A Forczyk | Laurel, MD USA | 06/09/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It is unusual in the history of warfare for entire units to disappear without a trace and when it does occur, such occurrences are usually the result of serious mistakes that lead to the annihilation of one's command. In American history, Custer and the 7th Cavalry come to mind. Further back, the disappearance of the entire Roman 9th Hispana Legion in Scotland is another example. In the British-made movie entitled "All the King's Men," a more recent occurrence of such an incident is portrayed. On August 12, 1915 at Gallipoli, over 300 British soldiers of the 1/5th Norfolk Battalion attacked into a morning mist and where never seen again. Few of the bodies were ever found and none returned from Turkish prisons after the war. Winston Churchill no less, called it one of the great-unsolved mysteries of the 20th Century. This film focuses on the "Sandringham Company," formed mostly from servants, gardeners and other workers on King George V's estate of that name, which were part of the 1/5th Norfolk Battalion. Virtually none of these men were ever seen again and the Royal family made great efforts during and after the war to ascertain their fate. The main characters in this film are Captain Frank Beck (David Jason), his two nephews who are lieutenants in the company, a Sergeant Grimes, King George V and Queen Alexandra. Beck is the main focus, as the fifty-plus estate manager who organizes and prepares the unit for war; rather than appearing as an odious "Colonel Blimp" type character, Jason wonderfully portrays Beck as a trusted father figure in the unit, respected by both the King and the troops. Much of the early part of the film focuses on the lives of the men while on the estate, and Beck's efforts to go to war with them despite his age. Eventually, Queen Alexandra lends her support to his martial ambitions and Beck is allowed to lead his men off to Gallipoli. Unfortunately, the film bogs down a bit once the unit gets to Gallipoli. In reality, the 1/5th Norfolk landed at Suvla Bay on 10 August and was lost two days later, but in the film these two days seem to drag. The fact that the British were making a major effort to break out of the Suvla Bay enclave is missed here, because the film shows the men of the company lounging about and engaging in mundane camp activities. Some patrol activity against Turkish snipers is shown, but this has little relevance. On 12 August, as part of a minor preliminary operation to clear the way for a larger attack on the next day, the 1/5th Norfolks and several other units are sent forward to clear out Turkish outposts. At this point in the film, when the unit disappears in the mists, the director begins to switch back and forth between post-war investigations into the disappearance and a hypothetical depiction of what actually occurred on that day. Historically, the film is a bit disappointing in recounting the fate of the "Sandringham Company" because it fails to put the day in perspective. The Sandringham company is shown in total isolation from the rest of the British army. The participation of other units or even the rest of the battalion is not depicted in this film, nor is even the audience told what their mission was. In fact, Captain Frank Beck did not lead the attack; it was his superior Colonel Beauchamp (Beck is never shown interacting with his superiors), who also died. The 1/5th Norfolk lost 372 men that day, of which the Sandringham men were only 2/3rds of the casualties. Even more glaring is that the British suffered about 18,000 casualties in less than a week at Suvla Bay during the period of the Sandringham company's brief involvement in the campaign; the disappearance of a few hundred troops in the midst of such slaughter and confusion might have made more sense given these facts. Obviously the men were all killed, since none ever returned, but the exact nature of their fate remained a mystery. This film depicts the Sandringham's as punching through the thin Turkish line in a glorious charge, but are then overwhelmed once they become surrounded behind enemy lines. The Turks execute all the captured survivors, including Beck. While this theory has merit, it is not the only possibility. The film depicts the mist as obscuring the battlefield, but fails to show the heavy scrub brush and small trees that hindered the British advance and made it difficult for the officers to maintain control. Another plausible theory, not suggested by the film, is that the 1/5th Norfolk lost cohesion in the rough terrain and the battle-hardened Turks destroyed the untried unit piece-meal. While there is little doubt that the Turks were not taking prisoners that day, there is no evidence to suggest that the "Sandringham's" went down in a blaze of glory as depicted in this film (although certainly such a depiction is preferred to anything that suggests an ignominious end). Perhaps they did, but the loss of the entire unit is more indicative of incompetence than competence. Despite these historical reservations, the film is very well done and provides a poignant example of the enthusiasm of men to go off to war in the early days of the First World War. Although some minor characters, including a conscientious objector and a shell-shock casualty, temper the glorious view of war to some extent, the film remains committed to a patriotic depiction of martial duty. The cost of such devotion is apparent by the end of the film, but the meaning of such sacrifice is left ambiguous. Contrast this British-made ambivalence about the sacrifices of the First World War with the current American films that glorify the sacrifices of the Second World War."
A classic British cameo
W. Robinson | Chiba, Japan | 03/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a superb drama documentary produced for the BBC and starring David Jason and Maggie Smith. It explores the history of the raising of the Sandringham Brigade during the First World War - a troop of soldiers created from the estate workers, grooms and gardeners employed by the British Royal Family at Sandringham, Norfolk in England. The recruits were shipped to fight in the Gallipoli campaign, where all except one were massacred by Turkish troops.A gripping story of nineteenth century values exposed to the horrors of twentieth century combat"
Moving Drama | London, England | 04/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"A very well made, moving drama about the Estate workers at Sandringham who volunteer during The First World war to fight the Turkish in Gallipoli. Unlike the Mel Gibson Film, this focuses purely on the British contingent at the Dardanelles and the suffering and losses involved.The legend of the Sandringham soldiers has it that a mist descended on them as the marched into battle and that they were never seen again. This actually shows the reality of battle, the distinct lack of glory and the shambolic reconnaisance which leads in turn to the inevitable result.As the drama unfolds, we are introduced to the characters and have enough time to get used to them and start to understand and like them.If war films are not your thing, believe me, this is very different. Worth a watch, especially the ever-dependable David Jason."
Haunting story of a lost regiment | 03/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

""All the King's men" is the story of the lost Sandringham regiment during the First World War at Gallipoli. The workers on the Sandringham estate wanted to do their bit to help in the war, and convinced the Queen to let them join their fellow soldiers at Gallipoli. The regiment disappeared, much to the puzzlement of the families they left behind. Of course, the men were killed, but since there were no letters, no word from the War Office, no witnesses, no returned mementos, there was a strong interest in finding out what happened to those men.
I thought that the movie did a good job. The costumes were of the period, the characters were believable, and there was a wonderfully poignant juxaposition of the bewilderment of the families back in England and the hard realities of battle at Gallipoli. There was also a heartbreaking touch during the scene in which the commander is reading one of Rupert Brooke's 1914 sonnets to his men "If I should die, think only this of me...." then the movie continues with the brutality of the war. Far more Sigfried Sassoon than Rupert Brooke, but Brooke illustrated the naivite that still existed at the time (Brooke too died en route to Gallipoli). I highly recommend this movie. If you are looking for another World War I movie, I also recommend "Gallipoli", starring a very young Mel Gibson."