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Tunes of Glory - Criterion Collection
Tunes of Glory - Criterion Collection
Actors: Alec Guinness, John Mills, Susannah York, Dennis Price, Kay Walsh
Director: Ronald Neame
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
UR     2004     1hr 46min

In Ronald Neame's Tunes of Glory, the incomparable Alec Guinness inhabits the role of Jock Sinclair-a whiskey drinking, up-by-the-bootstraps commanding officer of a peacetime Scottish battalion. When Basil Barrow (John M...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Alec Guinness, John Mills, Susannah York, Dennis Price, Kay Walsh
Director: Ronald Neame
Creators: Arthur Ibbetson, Anne V. Coates, Albert Fennell, Colin Lesslie, James Kennaway
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Classics, Military & War
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
DVD Release Date: 02/17/2004
Original Release Date: 12/20/1960
Theatrical Release Date: 12/20/1960
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 46min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 14
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Alec Guinness In One Of His Best Roles
Reviewer | 07/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A clash of wills and personalities between two men, one a psychologically scarred idealist, the other driven by ego and his own needs to the point of cruelty, is examined in the peacetime military drama, ?Tunes of Glory,? directed by Ronald Neame and starring Alec Guinness and John Mills. Major Jock Sinclair (Guinness) is the acting Colonel of a Scottish regiment, but as the story begins he has been notified that he has been passed over for promotion and his replacement, Lieutenant Colonel Basil Barrow (Mills) is en route to take command. Sinclair is a soldier?s soldier, a man?s man loved and respected (with some qualifications) by his men. He has clawed his way up through the ranks, was once a piper (he would?ve been happy as a Pipe Major, in fact, but Hitler-- as he says at one point-- ?Changed all that?), and feels strongly that he should have been made Colonel of the regiment. Barrow, on the other hand, is an aristocrat and a third generation officer of this particular regiment. He suffers, however, from his experience in a prisoner-of-war camp, and has never fully recovered, the impact of which is succinctly expressed when he tells his Captain that he never really came back. From the beginning, it?s an almost impossible situation, and from the moment Barrows arrives the atmosphere is thick with tension as he and Sinclair square off in a contest from which it is readily evident that neither will emerge unscathed in one way or another . Working from a tight, intelligent screenplay by James Kennaway (adapted from his own novel), Neame delivers a taut, insightful character driven drama that explores the diversity of human nature, and illustrates the good and evil contained within us all and the traits which ultimately determine which will be the prevalent manifestation of the individual personality. Through the device of placing the protagonist and the antagonist-- each the antithesis of the other-- in a no-win situation, the film examines motivations, actions and reactions that can lead the story in any number of directions, none of which are positive, but all of which are logical and which finally leads to a conclusion that is extremely powerful, incisive and totally believable. As Jock Sinclair, you see Alec Guinness in a role quite unlike anything else he?s ever done; it was, in fact, his own personal favorite of all of his cinematic creations. Sinclair is a man who is course and rough-hewn, an egoist who, when the personal need arises, will wantonly subject those around him to psychological cruelty in order to elevate himself and his position and to assuage his own ego. At mess, for example, he derides a young officer for not smoking his cigarette like a man; he orders every ?man? to drink whiskey, implying that to do otherwise constitutes an assessment of an individual?s masculinity. Boisterous bravura and ribald behavior are his tools of navigation through life, coupled with an attitude of doing things his way or the wrong way. And Guinness plays it to the hilts. Beginning with his whole perspective and attitude, he IS Sinclair, while physically he embodies and expresses exactly who this man is and what he stands for. At times, his eyes fairly bulge with an enthusiasm that suggests a lasciviousness underlying the cruelty; when he walks he strides purposefully, and carries himself in such a way that when he enters a room he veritably fills it and makes his presence felt so that the very air seems oppressed by him. It?s a performance that, even in a strong year of Oscar contenders (Trevor Howard, Lancaster, Lemmon, Olivier and Tracy were all up for Best Actor-- Lancaster won) he deserved to be among them. In this film Guinness is quite simply unforgettable in one of his most powerful roles. John Mills, as well, delivers a superb, introspective performance as Barrow, capturing the way in which this man must live so inwardly to survive, and conveying how difficult it is for him to continue on while attempting to live up to his heritage and the expectations of a position to which he is clearly unfit in his current mental state. In Barrow we see reflected the prevailing attitude of the times that ?might makes right,? and that anything less is akin to unacceptable negligence, that same military mind-set that put Jake Holman at odds with the world in ?The Sand Pebbles,? and led to the unfortunate incident depicted so eloquently in ?A Few Good Men.? It?s an excellent, understated, sensitive performance by Mills, who plays brilliantly off of Guinness?s brutishness. The film also boasts a number of excellent supporting performances, especially Dennis Price, as Major Charlie Scott, whose stoic assessment of himself as well as the situation at hand serves as the film?s conscience; Gordon Jackson as the sympathetic Captain Jimmy Cairns; and Duncan Macrae in a memorable turn as Pipe Major Duncan MacLean. Also included in this outstanding supporting cast are Kay Walsh (Mary), John Fraser (Ian), Susannah York (In her film debut as Morag Sinclair), Percy Herbert (Riddick), Allan Cuthbertson (Eric) and Angus Lennie (Orderly). A powerful film that so successfully demonstrates the devastating effects of dysfunctional human relationships and conveys the need to look beyond ourselves, ?Tunes of Glory? presents a story to which everyone will be able to relate because the theme is applicable to any setting involving human interactions. A thoroughly involving film featuring a number of memorable performances (especially by Guinness) that will give you reason to take pause and reflect, and hopefully add some perspective to a world too often mired in unnecessary turmoil."
An intense look at the psychological aftermath of war.
Roger J. Buffington | Huntington Beach, CA United States | 09/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a great movie. The time: immediately following the Second World War. The place: Scotland, specifically the Scotts Highland Regiment. The Regiment has returned from hard combat in North Africa and Europe, and once again is esconced in its barracks in the Scottish Highlands--the place in which it has been headquartered for over three hundred years. The Acting Commanding Officer is Col. Jock Sinclair (Alec Guiness), a rough, uneducated man from the lower classes who worked his way up to Colonel from the ranks. Sinclair got his promotion in the desert, fighting Rommel, and one senses that these experiences have created strong bonds of friendship between Sinclair and certain other officers in the battalion. Now higher headquarters has assigned a new Commanding Officer to the battalion--Col. Basil Barrow, a university-educated man from the upper classes who comes from a long line of officers who served with, and indeed commanded, the battalion. But Barrow, for all that, is viewed as an outsider and newcomer--while the other officers forged friendships in the war, fighting the Germans, Barrow was in the Pacific theater. Sinclair is relegated to second-in-command. Sinclair is deeply resentful of Barrow, and immediately gets off on the wrong foot with his new commander, unintentionally belittling Barrow's war service, most of which involved the horrors of being a POW tortured by the Japanese. In fact, Colonel Barrow is deeply scarred by his wartime experience, and has lost perspective in dealing with his officers. He is a martinet, and appears to forget that leadership involves earning the respect of one's subordinates--it is not simply bestowed from on-high. Although both men love the Regiment above all else, this film is about an implacable conflict between Sinclair and Barrow. For Sinclair does not respect Barrow, who he views as a "spry wee gent who will not command the Battalion for very long..."

The interaction between Barrow and Sinclair provides for an intense psychological confrontation. This is a war movie without a war. None is needed. This is a superb study in leadership, confrontation, loyalty, and the nature of the tradition-rich Highland Regiment. The class divisions among the Regimental officers is interestingly portrayed. The entire cast turns in a fine performance, and Guiness is truly stellar as the rough-spoken Colonel Sinclair.

The DVD is beautifully remastered, with crisp audio and video. I've been keeping an old ratty videocassete of this film for years, hoping that the film would eventually turn up on DVD. Now it has, and any film afficianado will enjoy this crisp, fast-paced and intense story."
Whisky for thems that like it. For thems that dont, whisky!
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 10/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Tunes of Glory" is everything you might want from this type of movie. Full of rough-hewn Scots drinking life with the same enthusiasm as they drink their whisky, "Tunes of Glory" plays wistfully with the Scottish stereotypes of good natured, dancing and singing soldiers of a highland regiment. There are tunes a'plenty, and twirling kilts and bagpipes as well. A story of post-war peacetime soldiers, one cannot call it a war movie or but it is military in flavor,with pipes and drum corp assembled.

In addition to the Scottish pageantry is a surprisingly deep storyline and some of Sir Alec Guinness's and Sir John Mills's best acting, which is saying a lot about those two giants of film. Both play against type, with Guinness's surprising turn as red-haired Jock Sinclair, the course and gutter-born Major who seeks to be Battalion Commander, and Mill's emotionally unstable yet straight-laced Battalion Commander Basil Barrow, the very opposite of the spirited garrison who struggles to keep control. Both characters are likeable, yet deeply flawed, and it is a question as to which will overcome their defects and rise.

The looseness and fun-loving background of the regiment is a fine background for the tense struggle of Sinclair and Barrow. Supporting characters, such as the slippery Charlie Scott, and Sinclair's daughter Morag and her beau the handsome piper Ian Fraser, provide counter balance and some much-needed affection in this heroless film.

The Criterion Collection DVD is of course excellent, with a few insightful interviews with Sir Alec Guinness, Sir John Mills and director Ronald Neame. There is also a nice essay by Robert Murphy, which adds to the appreciation of the film."
Peace Time Rivalries in a Scottish Regiment
Roger Kennedy | 07/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a most excellent movie. Both Alec Guineness and John Mills put in great performances as two troubled commanding officers squaring off for command of a post war Scottish regiment. The acting is supurb all around. What I find most interesting is the depiction of regimental life. Few movies have ever provided such a vivid and lush view of being an officer in the Britsih army in the post war period. One can see that the comfortable and cozy regimental lifestyle continued for many years until recently where cut-backs and reductions in the army have no doubt curtailed much of what we see here. Still, this movie shows how regimental tradition is so important in the British army, and in Scottish regiments in particular. The pipes are a part of every day life with their various duty tunes played throughout the day as shown in the film. The dancing scene where the officers are all brought out on parade early in the morning was not unknown, and shows that social comportment was a much greater factor in the past than it is today. We never get to know which Highland regiment is being portrayed in this movie. The location is most likely Stirling Castle which would make it the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, yet there is a lot of evidence to indicate the contrary. It seems that the regiment portrayed is an amalgam of all the Highland units in the British army, and does not indicate any one in particular. To have highlighted one regiment over all the others would have been unfair and so perhaps was a conscious decision made by the producers of the movie. Americans will find the regimental life shown here somewhat different than what is normally associated with army life. These british regiments have every bit as much esprit de corps as anything that can be found in the US army. In fact, regiments matter little in the US army. Divisions and Services are the important thing, not the regiment. Perhaps it was no suprise when the great desk general Colin Powell asked the pipe major of the Argylls recently what accounted for such great morale in the British army: The only response he got was "the regiment sir!" Powell could only nodd his head! Anyway, this movie is great to watch not only for the fine acting, but for its sets and portrayal of army life in a bygone era."