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King & Country (1964)

During World War I, an army private is accused of desertion during battle. The officer assigned to defend him at his court-martial finds out there is more to the case than meets the eye.

Director:

Joseph Losey

Writers:

Evan Jones (screenplay), John Wilson (from the stage play by) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 4 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dirk Bogarde ... Captain Hargreaves
Tom Courtenay ... Private Arthur James Hamp
Leo McKern ... Captain O'Sullivan
Barry Foster ... Lieutenant Webb
Peter Copley ... Colonel
James Villiers James Villiers ... Captain Midgley
Jeremy Spenser ... Private Sparrow (as Jeremy Spencer)
Barry Justice ... Lieutenant Prescott
Vivian Matalon Vivian Matalon ... Padre
Keith Buckley ... Corporal of Guard
James Hunter James Hunter ... Private Sykes
Jonah Seymour Jonah Seymour ... Corporal Hamilton
Larry Taylor ... Sergeant Major
David Cook David Cook ... Private Wilson
Richard Arthure Richard Arthure ... Guard
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Storyline

During World War One, the British troops are entrenched at Passchendaele, Belgium. Among the volunteers there is a young British soldier, Arthur Hamp, who is the sole survivor of his original company. Hamp spent three years in the trenches and this makes him a veteran. He has never been accused of cowardice but one day he simply decides to leave the war behind him and walk all the way home to Britain. In Calais, France, he is challenged by a Military Police patrol who promptly arrests him for leaving without permission. Hamp's commanding officers decide to convene a Court Martial and charge him with desertion. If found guilty, Hamp could be shot by a firing squad. Captain Hargreaves is assigned to be Hamp's defending attorney but he seems skeptical about his chances of acquittal for the deserter. During their first talk, Captain Hargreaves is impressed by his client's utter sincerity and naivete. He learns that his client volunteered on a dare by his friends back home, spent three ... Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The most intense excitement you have ever experienced in this shock-filled story of the incident that rocked an empire! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

18 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 March 1965 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

För kung och fosterland See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$300,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Black and White (archive footage)| Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The still photograph which appears when Private Hamp says the words "king and country" shows King George V riding with his cousin Kaiser Wilhelm II on 24 May 1913. See more »

Goofs

Equipment shadow visible next to the door as the camera pulls back from the colonel's office after having received the messenger's dispatch. See more »

Quotes

Captain Midgley: A proper court is concerned with law. It's a bit amateur to plead for justice.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Dirk Bogarde: By Myself (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Grimly powerful King and Country unrelenting.
19 August 2011 | by st-shotSee all my reviews

Like the incessant rain King and Country mired in mud and military litigation is a non stop emotionally powerful film of human spirit crushed by mechanized war and the necessity to maintain order. It's a chaotic Paths of Glory closer to the front and just as unjust.

After repeated shellings and engagements with the enemy Pvt. Hamp (Tom Courtnay) is arrested trying to walk back to England from the battlefields of Europe. Put on trial for desertion he and his lawyer Captain Hargreaves (Dirk Borgarde) devise a plan to attempt to save him from the firing squad. With shelling in the distance court convenes.

A filmed play with much shot in close-up along with a smooth and unobtrusive camera movement within the claustrophobic confines of the trenches ( with some telling stills) King and Country is an unrelenting depiction of absurd sacrifice stopping only for a moment to exterminate one with those around him scheduled for the same per order to immediately move out.

Director Losey's anti war tract is one of the most sober and ultimately powerful of an era when anti-war films flourished with wild absurdities from King of Hearts to How I Won the War. His inquisitors drab bureaucrats instead of ogres his stage a rat infested quagmire instead of a chess board floor of a French Château the film resonates with a callous, hopeless and to add insult to injury clumsy rush to justice.

Bogarde's Hargreaves is measured and restrained, his pauses and glances masking incertitude brilliantly. Coutrtnay is outstanding as the born to lose Hamp. Both touching and frustrating he states his case with a warped benign logic. Leo Mc Kern's hostile doctor also register's in a gruff way.

King and Country may not match the scale of All Quiet on the Western Front or Paths of Glory but Losey's deft and tight handling within it's limited confine packs every bit as an emotional punch.


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