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 Post subject: 225 Tunes of Glory
PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2005 10:13 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
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Tunes of Glory

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In Ronald Neame's Tunes of Glory, the incomparable Alec Guinness inhabits the role of Jock Sinclair—a whiskey-drinking, up-by-the-bootstraps commanding officer of a peacetime Scottish battalion. Sinclair is a lifetime military man, who expects respect and loyalty from his men. But when Basil Barrow (John Mills, winner of the Best Actor award at the 1960 Venice Film festival)—an educated, by-the-book scion of a traditionally military family—enters the scene as Sinclair's replacement, the two men become locked in a fierce battle for control of the battalion and the hearts and minds of its men. Based on the novel by James Kennaway and featuring flawless performances by Guinness and Mills, Tunes of Glory uses the rigidly stratified hierarchy of military life as a jumping off point to examine the institutional contradictions and class divisions of English society, resulting in an unexpectedly moving drama.

Special Features

• New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound and enhanced for widescreen televisions
• New video interview with director Ronald Neame
• Exclusive new audio interview with actor Sir John Mills
• Original theatrical trailer
• New essay by acclaimed film critic and historian Robert Murphy
• English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
• Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition
• More!

Criterionforum.org user rating averages



Last edited by Martha on Fri Dec 02, 2005 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 6:26 am 
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No posts about this wonderful film? Well then, let me be the first. Sir Alec Guiness and Sir John Mills are spectacular in this film. These are two of the most brilliant performances I've ever seen! Mills' win at the Venice Film Festival was definitely deserved. I'm surprised that Guiness didn't win any major awards for this film.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 10:37 am 
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Ditto here, I absolutely loved this film!I think most people here in the forum are down on Ronald Neame, or at least the inclusion of Hopscotch in the CC.But I love the acting,the Scottish theme,and of course all the Single Malt Sir Alec looks all to happy to be enjoying during the film.When I watch this one it is always with a wee dram!My only complaint comes with the transfer,what the hell is that annoying line on the right side of the screen during the last part of the film!Anyway, just thought I would chime in on this delightful little gem.Gary Tooze just posted an interesting Beaver review on this one.http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDReviews11/tunes_of_glory.htm


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2005 12:59 pm 
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This is indeed a wonderful film with several outstanding performances. Apart from Mills and Guinness, I think Dennis Price is superb, too. Price was such an underrated and underused actor -- neither this film nor Kind Hearts and Coronets would have been the same without him.

I showed this DVD to my parents when they came for a visit a few months ago, and I could actually see my father becoming physically uncomfortable during Guinness' break-down at the end. He was in the army for a couple of years, and I think the sight of an authority figure breaking down in front of his subordinates hit him a bit too close to home.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 1:08 am 
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I've had this for a while, but only just got around to watching it. I can only but echo the praise that's been voiced already: a truly fine film. The lead performances are as magnificent as you'd expect, but I think the writing and direction are crucial in providing the perfect frame for those performances. Part of what's so compelling and unusual about the film is the way in which your allegiances with the characters are kept deliberately provisional and uneasy. No-one is allowed to settle into straightforward good-guy/bad-guy typology, and this means the story could tip any way at any moment.

I also think the film's sound design is worth remarking. Creative use of sound is so rare it's always worth celebrating, and in this film many of the crisis points for the Mills character are signalled by off-screen sound - noise in the next room, voices behind a door. It's a smart tactic that makes us party to his growing paranoia (as we also are hearing but not seeing the 'evidence' of the breakdown of his authority) and dramatically paid off in the final scene where we're sharing aural hallucinations not with Mills, but with Guinness.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 8:26 pm 
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I'm watching this for the second time, having received it for a father's day gift from my wife. It's even better the second time around, and Guinness just gives me chills. I've read that he was originally offered the role of Barrow, and I don't think that would have worked nearly as well - I think it is truly one of the single greatest performances in cinematic history. Just incredibly absorbing and compelling.

And yes, the ending is unexpected and powerfully executed. Like the rest of the film, everything seems simplistically done....but the performances are just amazing.

now why couldn't they have fixed that green band down the right side of the print in that final scene? very annoying :evil:


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:27 pm 
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A really great film. And as Tryvana said, Dennis Price is great in a non-flashy but fascinating role. His placidness with that damned pipe as Mills and Guinness are butting heads, his impenetrable insouciant gaze makes it difficult to tell how much of a schemer, puppeteer he is and how much he's simply cruelly, but oh so calmly, amused by it all. It's a movie of great richness in all sorts of ways.


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 Post subject: Re: 225 Tunes of Glory
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:51 am 
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I was surprised/pleased recently to pick up the UK Metrodome DVD of this for just £2, and on popping the disc into the player to see the Criterion Collection logo and the line crossing the screen!

I enjoyed the film, though
[Reveal] Spoiler:
I didn't really buy Guinness's breakdown at the end. i didn't see how the character would have done anything but gloat at his final elimination of the "awful wee man" and his assuming the rank of Colonel. The remorse didn't seem motivated.


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 Post subject: Re: 225 Tunes of Glory
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:07 am 
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You make it sound like you think Sinclair is a totally heartless bastard, which he isn't. Sure, he's loud and crude and totally flippant and rude towards Basil, but he doesn't really hate the guy; Sinclair is just a rowdy "good old boy" kind of person, not a mean-spirited jerk.

Most people, no matter how much they dislike someone,
[Reveal] Spoiler:
don't want to see that person dead, especially because of something they did to that person. Basil killed himself because Sinclair went too far in showing that he was the true leader of the battallion, and in doing so embarrassed Basil and broke his decidedly fragile heart. Basil wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, Grandfather, etc. by getting into the "family business" of the military - and he failed because he learned from books and not from battlefield experience, making it impossible for him to earn respect from the soldiers. He tried to force it out of them through rules and regulations and it didn't work - they still flocked to Sinclair and listened to him instead. Sinclair rubbed it in with his typical crude flair and the result was inevitable - Basil is so ashamed to have, in his mind, failed his family and brought them shame. So he kills himself to undo it (kind of samurai-like, actually. Harakiri and all that).

As for Sinclair's reaction: the realization that he caused Basil's death is obviously a massive burden. It would be for anyone with a heart - and Sinclair has lots of heart. It's a terrible thing that he did, and it hurts. More than that, he now has his own shame to deal with; a shame not dissimilar from Basil's. After all, the only way Sinclair could regain "official" control of his men was by driving his superior officer to an untimely death, even if it was unintentional. That will certainly haunt him for the rest of his military career and probably his life. After all, a truly great leader would find a legitimate way to rise to power (or back to power), wouldn't he? No great military man should have to resort to driving someone to suicide to gain power. Sinclair feels that way and he knows his men do too. If they realize that he killed Basil's death, will they still respect him? The breakdown at the end, with the promise of a lavish and honorable funeral for Basil, is Sinclair's own way of trying to erase his shame. Basil did it with death, Sinclair will try to do it with a celebration of life.


There's a lot going on there that reveals much about Sinclair's character (making repeat viewings interesting indeed)


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 Post subject: Re: 225 Tunes of Glory
PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:31 am 
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I appreciate that was the intention of the film - I simply wasn't convinced that Sinclair had that depth of sensitivity, that heart. The scenes with his woman suggested only maudlin self-pity, and right from the film's outset he is portrayed as a bully and despiser of weakness or effeteness.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
The last-act shift I found unconvincing, and perhaps the author didn't wish the film to be so bleak as to depict a military perennially headed by such cold bastards.

I suppose I do consider Sinclair an irredeemable git.


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 Post subject: Re: 225 Tunes of Glory
PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:59 am 
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Saw "Tunes of Glory" over the weekend for the first time. Haven't seen enough of Alec Guinness or John Mills' work to call this 'career best work' but it's easily the best movie I've seen these two in. I didn't even know what this movie was about going in as my only previous experience with a Ronald Neame movie is "The Poseidon Adventure." Seeing/hearing Neame's technique at work here (always at the service of the story and his actors without calling attention to himself as 'auteur'; even the sound distortion stunts are there primarily to convey the inner-conflicts tormenting Sinclair and Barrow) I was impressed and finally understood why Irwin Allen hired him to helm "Poseidon." Neame allows Guinness, Mills and a perfect cast of supporting actors (which is better than most movie's top headliners) ample breathing room to make the test of wills between stubborn men of military honor whose different backgrounds collide (and swing audience sympathy back-and-forth) a fat-free piece of terrific entertainment. Kay Walsh and Susannah York do as well as they can holding the stiff upper lip for the fairer sex, but this was clearly meant to be a sausage fest of Brit thesps and that's fine with me. Dennis Price's Charlie Scott is the unsung hero of "Tunes of Glory" (with a shoutout to John Fraser as the Pipe Major), the glue that holds the extremes of the lead characters' personalities in check. Jock Sinclair is as jovial and loud as Basil Barrow is mousy and by-the-book; their characters evolve and change but they're pretty set in their way. Charlie is an enigma though, and his interactions with both Sinclair and Barrow are more interesting than the predictable (though still fun to watch) battle of wills that Jock and Basil (along with the other men) engage in through most of the film. It's obvious Charlie is thinking about himself as the future leader of the battallion, but the fact he's there at the end for Jock (even if it's just to hold him) and didn't seem particularly disturbed by Barrow's solution (which I didn't see coming at all and shocked me) clues me his loyalties were more with Jock than Basil. Or, like the audience, maybe Charlie was too stunned at the end to say or do anything but stay seated?

I have to agree with reaky though, Guinness can't quite sell the movie's final burst of emotion, IMO. This final bit of (over)acting is the only weakness of an otherwise stellar film that I'm glad to have sampled (crummy vertical line distortion at the end notwithstanding). BTW, does anyone else think that Susannah York's boyfriend (the pipe player whose beating by Jocks sets the secondary plot going in the movie's 2nd half) looks like a dead ringer of Ewan McGregor? Or a slightly-young Phillip Law? Or is it Jude Law that I'm thinking of? Wink, wink...


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 Post subject: Re: 225 Tunes of Glory
PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 6:13 pm 
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On an Alec Guinness kick lately, I finally watched this one and thought it was great. Jock is one of those marvelous characters toward whom I felt a constant ambivalence. Sinclair's much more admirable, but his vision of the battalion is so unrealistic that the outcome seems fully justified despite the fact that it's utterly heartbreaking.

The last five minutes were a bit of a letdown, but everything before that was really superb.


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 Post subject: Re: 225 Tunes of Glory
PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:56 pm 
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If anyone has seen the HD stream of this on Amazon, does it include the stripe of damaged/discolored film in the last reel seen on the DVD? I'm just wondering if a new master could fix this and, if the stripe is still there whether there's still much chance of a upgrade or if they'd be unwilling to put it out on blu-ray with such a highly visible flaw.


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 Post subject: Re: 225 Tunes of Glory
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:01 am 
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I haven't seen the hulu print, but considering that Criterion released a film like And Everything is Going Fine, which is entirely comprised of analog tape, on blu, I doubt a printed-in blemish would make them turn their noses up at a blu upgrade of anything.


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 Post subject: Re: 225 Tunes of Glory
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:55 pm 
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The blu of AEIGF was a surprising, and we already know that they'll avoid doing a blu-ray indefinitely due to problems inherent in the source materials (as pretty much any label with any sense would, though not necessarily in the case of Tunes of Glory). Otherwise we probably would have seen a new Andrei Rublev release ages ago. Granted the cases are different because in Tunes of Glory we're talking about a single flaw, but it does last quite a while. I guess I was mainly hoping to figure out if it had been fixed somehow in nearly a decade since the Criterion DVD.


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 Post subject: Re: 225 Tunes of Glory
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:29 pm 
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If I remember correctly, I do believe the print on hulu does include the stripe....


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 Post subject: Re: 225 Tunes of Glory
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:52 pm 
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Having just watched this for the second time, I have to disagree with some of the criticisms of the final scene of the film:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
The shame of rising to command a battalion by way of dead-man's-boots, when the subordinate officer is implicated in his former superior's controversial death... it's too much of a loss of honor for a man of "Jock's" background. It wasn't meant as revenge, surely, but the late colonel's ultimate act left his next-in-command in the same position that prompted his desperate decision. In the final scene Guiness portrays his character's failure to cope with this crisis. Effectively commanding a battalion requires the respect of your men. He's lost their respect forever, and commands only through the authority of his office, no longer through the force of his personality. That is a privilege he'll never regain, and thus he'll go on, a man without honor, overhearing the bitter whispers of those who once trusted his boisterous methods. His hubris is gone, and it comprised such a large part of him that he's left a husk, with no way back to his former (relative) innocence. It's a certain military culture and persona that may be hard for a civilian to understand, but I know his "type", and I've never seen it more effectively conveyed as in this film, with this key, final scene pulling away the curtain and delineating the full spectrum of his personality, right to the margin and off it, into the dark edges of the map where the banner reads: "Thar be Monsters Here".


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