Top positive review
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Amusing and poignant showing the absurdity and pointlessness of war
on 31 December 2009
I take a contrarian view as I rather enjoy this amusing, pleasant and watchable film based on the first of the war memoirs of Spike Milligan as he reluctantly and unenthusiastically joins the army experiencing high jinks and the grim realities of basic training for the Royal Artillery until the moment of departure from England to join the frontline action.
Jim Dale supporting cast are many of the well known and much loved actors familiar to British TV viewers from the 70s. .
As well as the daft and at times zany dry British humour as Spike and the rest of his squad get involved in many amusing antics, there is also very much the human face of the futility war, when one of his group is blown up guarding a shot down German bomber and when the family of another has been totally wiped out during a bombing raid on London.
Often I think that films such as this come off far better for being shot on a low budget. Unable to show the German blitz on London the Director Norman Cohen cleverly shows the recruits on a hill silhouetted by the night sky as they watch the homes of their families being bombed, a moving and poignant moment.
On the whole Jim Dale gives a good account of himself, capturing the flavour of Milligan's madcap behaviour.
Yes, at times Jim Dale (playing Spike Milligan) acts as though he is in one of his Carry On films and for much of the time there was little discernable difference between Arthur Lowe as Major Drysdale (the training camps commander) and Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring out of Dad's Army. Also there is unfulfilled potential in this film.