An English, Irish, American War
With the war going on Englishman Philip Hamilton (Edward Underdown), Irishman Smoke O'Connor (Michael Brennan) and American David Morgan (Ralph Clanton) all find themselves drafted and in training together at Caterham, Surrey. With Regimental Sergeant Major Brittain (R.S.M. Brittain) putting them through their paces they soon find themselves receiving emergency promotions and made part of the tank company of the Welsh Guards. Landing at Normandy a few weeks after D-Day the men find themselves fighting in a country they know little about.
To call a war movie a little gem almost seems wrong but "They Were Not Divided" by future Bond director Terence Young is exactly that. This 1950 war movie which sees 3 strangers becoming friends in training and then go through fighting together is simply entertainment. No it isn't the most realistic of war movies with a tone which is frequently on the light side but it is what contributes to why "They Were Not Divided" is still entertaining.
That light side is mainly present during the first half of "They Were Not Divided" as we have are Englishman, Irishman and American, which almost sounds like the start of a joke, all going through training having to deal with orders being shouted at them. With the real R.S.M. Brittain involved there is a real edge to the barking of orders as well as the humour of him always telling the men to cut their hair as he can't find anything else to pick them up on. But whilst light it isn't full on comedy because it also highlights aspects of training. This is the same later on when Philip takes David home to meet his wife Helen, played by Wilhelmina, and in a moment of comedy David ends up skinny dipping and finds a woman there skinny dipping at the same time.
But this all builds up to a second half which focuses on the experiences of the men having been sent overseas to fight and we get more drama than in the first half. Although again "They Were Not Divided" still has an aspect to it which makes it lighter than other movies and in truth makes this come across as a sort of propaganda movie about life in the army. The reason for this is because director Terence Young keeps things ticking over never resting too long for it to become too heavy or too slow and that combined with some cliche characters who have their own charm makes it on the easy side to watch.
What this all boils down to is that "They Were Not Divided" is neither the funniest war movie you will ever watch nor the most gritty and dramatic. But it inhabits that middle ground which makes it easy to watch for those who want some war movie entertainment but don't want full on comedy or heavy action and realism.