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That's another fine mess you've got us in, Stanley
on 25 March 2010
This is an excellent wartime drama, set in the Burmese jungle, directed by the ever-reliable Val Guest. The brilliant Stanley Baker stars as Captain Alan Langford, a soldier who has to face two major moral dilemmas when he and his men take over a small village following a shoot-out with some Japanese soldiers.
The first dilemma occurs when the captain has to decide whether or not to execute two of the villagers in order to force an informer (Wolf Morris) to give him some vital information. The question is .... Can sacrificing two innocent people be justified it if means that many more lives will be saved in the long term? Then later, when the tables are turned and the captain and his men are captured by the Japanese, he has to choose whether to talk or else witness the execution of his own men.
This is a well-crafted and superbly-acted film that does not just feature scenes of combat but also examines the human aspect of war and the difficult decisions people in command sometimes have to make. The first-rate cast, headed by Stanley Baker, also includes Guy Rolfe, Leo McKern, Gordon Jackson, Bryan Forbes, David Lodge and Burt Kwouk. Apart from this impressive cast list, one of the main things that struck me about this film was the complete lack of music. However, I thought that enough tension was created without the need for any music and I found that I did not really miss it when I watched this film.
This DVD presents this 1959 black and white film in its original Megascope ratio of 2.35:1 and includes an excellent 24 page collectors booklet. If you have only ever seen some of Hammer's horror movies then I urge you to check out Yesterday's Enemy as it proves that Hammer could also make very good films in other genres as well.