Speaks his mind on music & movies!
We open on some kind of military encampment in the desert. Various groups are going through various exercises and drills. We focus on one man climbing a makeshift “Hill” carrying a duffel bag. He’s either getting fit or being punished. He looks to be in some distress as he struggles to the top eventually collapsing before he does.
We are in a British military prison and see the arrival of five new prisoners. The prisoners are sent here for varying offences, none too major, mostly petty crimes. They will be disciplined then sent back to their units. We watch as the five new men are put through the paces and introduced to life at the camp. Drill and more drill in the desert heat. Basically the prison tries to break the men down with constant pressure and exercise. When a prisoner gets out of line they face the “Hill’ which both physically and mentally is a test to a man’s limits. Some break, some don’t, some die. We watch our five as they face this looming obstruction and the constant berating of the staff who are also at the breaking point.
Sitting in the darkened theater, CB was swept up in this story of men being pushed to the limits in harsh conditions. Sidney Lumet directs the film (from a play by R.S. Allen and screenplay by Ray Rigby) and he makes a good one. Right from the start you can feel the constant pressure, the heat and hard conditions of the prison. You hear the sound of men drilling endlessly. He creates an environment that is believable. Shot in black and white by Oswald Morris, he captures Lumet’s vision. Some very good dialogue. The performances are all top notch with all the roles being cast perfectly. So many of the portrayals standout.
Harry Andrews plays the major who runs the camp. He is all British military and sweats the role. Great performance by a man trying to live by the rule book. Sean Connery is the main character (shares the screen time with the others) and the opposite to the Andrews role. Another case of the right actor for the role. Again Connery shows what a fine actor he is.
CB has one question, are you ready for a go at the “Hill”?
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