Next Tuesday, November 10, Movies at the Library will present “Tunes of Glory,” a masterpiece study of the tragedy of personal animosity and conflict, of the class division of English society in the mid-20th century, and of magnificent acting.
The film is set in Scotland after World War II and the story revolves around the conflict between two seniors officers of a Scottish regiment. Major Jock Sinclair (Alec Guinness), who has risen through the ranks and is much admired by his men, is the acting colonel of the regiment; he expects to be posted as the permanent commanding officer. To everyone’s surprise, Lt. Colonel Basil Barrow (John Mills) is named to the post, even though most of his career has been as a staff officer.
Barrow is a strict disciplinarian compared to Sinclair’s easygoing approach to leadership. He insists on imposing his rules and style on his men and struggles to gain their loyalty, particularly that of Sinclair. Sinclair, in return, begins a social and psychological campaign against the new colonel.
A final confrontation between the two men leads to tragedy for both of them.
Based on a novel by James Kennaway, the director Ronald Neame uses the examination of the rigidly stratified hierarchy of military life as a metaphor for the class divisions of English society. The result is an unexpectedly moving drama.
The cast of “Tunes of Glory” is first rate. Guinness, as the up-by-the-bootstraps, whiskey-drinking Sinclair, and Mills as the university-educated, by-the-book military family man, are both extraordinary actors who shine in these powerful roles. Susannah York as Sinclair‘s daughter leads a superlative group of supporting actors.
Don’t miss this engrossing clash of wills and world-class acting next Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the cinema on the ground level of the library. See you at the movies!