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  • The Monocled Mutineer [VHS] [1986]
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The Monocled Mutineer [VHS] [1986]

100 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Paul McGann, Bill Fellows, Matthew Marsh, Anthony Calf, Jane Wood
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Acorn
  • VHS Release Date: 8 Aug. 2003
  • Run Time: 304 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CZCU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 250,319 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Alan Bleasdale provides the script for this drama based on actual events during the First World War. After leading a rebellion at the Etaples training camp in northern France just prior to the Battle of Passchendaele, Private Percy Toplis (Paul McGann) adopts a monocle, disguises himself as an officer and escapes. He begins an affair with Dorothy (Cheri Lunghi), a beautiful young widow, but it is not long before the army are on his trail.

From the Back Cover

Paul McGann and Cherie Lunghi star in this gripping true story of the First World War mutiny led by Private Percy Toplis.

The rebellion took place at the notorious Etaples training camp in northern France on the eve of the battle of Passchendale in 1917.

Following the mutiny the dashing Percy Toplis takes flight, dressed as a British officer. He embarks on a love affair with the beautiful young widow Dorothy.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 114 people found the following review helpful By An Englishman abroad on 28 Aug. 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I remember watching this on television when it was first screened by the BBC back in 1986, and was mightily impressed. Twenty one years later, the 'Monocled Mutineer' has lost none of its impact.
Loosely based upon the real life story of a Nottinghamshire ne'er-do-well who finds himself drawn inexorably into the carnage of the First World War, the 'Monocled Mutineer' offers a highly original take upon what might seem like a familiar period of history. Scripted by the controversial Alan Bleasdale, it manages to be funny, moving and sometimes shocking, all the while maintaining a strong and engaging story line. A key episode involves the so-called 'Etaples Mutiny' of 1917, when British soldiers ran amok in protest at the brutalities of the nearby 'Bull Ring' training camp. The film's depiction of these events caused a stir in 1986, with Tory MPs outraged at what they considered to be a slur upon the record of the British soldiers who fought and died in Flanders. Yet such reactions were wide of the mark, as the 'Monocled Mutineer' takes a balanced view of the episode, and makes it clear that the limited outbreak of disorder was sparked by the systematic bullying of veterans who had already been pushed to the limit. The film deals frankly with the horrors of trench warfare, and also the comradeship and black humour that enabled soldiers to endure them.
The script is excellent, with convincing dialogue contributing to a strong sense of the period. The young Paul McGann was perfectly cast in the central role of Percy Topliss, the working class lad and humble Tommy who periodically adopts the persona of a dashing, monocle-wearing officer, and casually assumes a leading role in the 'Etaples Mutiny'.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Kasablanka on 26 Sept. 2007
Format: DVD
I have just finished watching this now, over three evenings and enjoyed it as much as I did so many years go. I think this is the best thing Paul McGann has done except for 'Withnail and I'. Philip McGough who plays the secret service officer determined to track Percy Topis down, is also very good in a quiet, understated way.

It is all very well acted and there is a fair amount of humour. Toplis comes across as a bit of a rogue, reluctant to be a hero.

It is now debated whether Toplis was at Etaples. Paul McGann is quoted as saying "I don't think he was at Etaples. The units that he served in and was attached to simply weren't around. At the same time, given the fact that he came and went, that he was a bit of a loner, and moved between people and places, it is not inconceivable that he was there". Apparently we may know the truth in 2017 when the files are opened.

A number of the scenes, especially towards the end do faithfully match what is known about him.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By X.W. on 29 Mar. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
WWI is an historical event less talked about than WWII. We are sick of hearing and watching any show about genocide, holocaust and Hitler, but how often do we see anything about the gruesome details on the life of soldiers in the WWI? That's what made this series so valuable. The scene that made the most impact on me is in one of the earlier episodes where a young officer was court-martialled for desertion. The heart-rending monologue by the 20 year old young officer was a rare revelation into the reality of war - a waste of human life it was. The execution of this young officer was a pivotal moment for the hero - Sergeant Topliss, who has since turned into a complete cynic, a rebel without cause. Although Topliss did exist in British military history, one should remember this is a work of art, not a documentary, so there is no need to nit-picking on the historical accuracy of the story.
The series is well made and well acted, although it was a bit slow to start with. I would say it's a tragedy in the guise of a comedy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Miss Scarlett on 23 Dec. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Back in the eighties, it was ITV who ruled at the costume drama, with classics like Brideshead Revisited and The Jewel in The Crown spread over eleven and fourteen episodes. They literally don't make them like that any more. The BBC's period dramas had acting that was as cardboard as the set.

The Monocled Mutineer is what the Americans would call a mini-series. It doesn't quite have the scale of the ITV productions; it's four episodes- three 75 mins and the finale is 90 mins. This is a spoiler-free review because I haven't actually seen the final episode! I just got so excited that I decided to review anyway.

The DVD back cover humorously says that it is a "supposedly true story", whereas the general consensus is that it is willfully historically inaccurate. To be honest, unless you are particularly familiar with WW1 minor figure Percy Toplis, I doubt it will bother you. If it does, never watch a play, film or TV show again. The look of the whole thing, from what I can tell, is factually accurate. It's certainly not the 1940 film of Pride and Prejudice, where everyone's wearing outfits from Civil War melodrama Gone with The Wind! The cover also clears up the myth that the show has never been repeated; it was repeated once, in 1988, but not since then.

You know when people go a bit gooey over the 'golden era' of Hollywood? I have the same reaction to these eighties mini-series. They're well-written, well-acted, well-shot...simply good stories that gave us a look at British history that was both nostalgic and critical. With its script written by 'Boys From The Black Stuff' writer Alan Bleasdale, The Monocled Mutineer is mostly critical.
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