Tunes of Glory (1960) starring Alec Guinness, John Mills, Dennis Price, Kay Walsh, John Fraser, Susannah York, Gordon Jackson, Duncan Macrae, Percy Herbert directed by Ronald Neame Movie Review

Tunes of Glory (1960)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Susannah York and Alec Guinness in Tunes of Glory (1960)

Who's the Boss

Following the end of WWII and with the Highland Regiment having returned home to Scotland, acting Commanding Officer Maj. Jock Sinclair (Alec Guinness) prepares to step down from his role with the arrival of Lt. Col. Basil Barrow (John Mills). On his arrival Barrow is less than impressed with the amount of indiscipline he encounters thanks to Sinclair's relaxed ways but finds restoring discipline to the regiment much harder than he imagined as the men still look to the war hero Sinclair as their leader, having earned their respect through his bravery in combat. When Sinclair discovers his daughter Morag (Susannah York) with a piper he attacks him leading to Barrow facing a tough choice as he should court-martial Sinclair but knows it would be an unpopular choice yet if he doesn't the men will have even less respect for him than what they had.

"Tunes of Glory" is one of those movies which takes something incredibly simple and makes it absolutely fascinating. That something simple is the situation presented to us with Barrow trying to drum an undisciplined bunch of soldiers into shape but facing an up hill battle because they not only don't respect him but his predecessor is still around. As I write that I can't but help make a comparison to when Ferguson stepped down as the manager of Man Utd and Moyes stepped in and faced a battle to get the players respect and support.

Gordon Jackson and John Mills in Tunes of Glory (1960)

But the things about "Tunes of Glory" is right from the word go it creates this brilliant atmosphere as we enter the Regiment and can quickly come to understand that in Sinclair the men not only have a leader but someone who represents them having worked his way up in rank, proving his bravery and standing by his men. Whilst on the other hand we have Barrow who represents privilege having earned his rank through who he knows and sitting at a desk which to those who saw combat does not earn their respect.

What also makes this interesting is that you don't know how it will play out; you know that Barrow will have difficulties but you can not see how the situation will inevitably explode. But explode it does in a surprising manner which delivers an ending just as fascinating as everything which went on before.

There is also a little matter of the actors and when you have Alec Guinness and John Mills in a movie surrounded by countless familiar British actors such as Gordon Jackson, Percy Herbert and Allan Cuthbertson you are in for a treat. And that is what you get with Guinness beneath ginger hair bringing to life a soldier who has served for so long that he has almost created his own army with his own rules as he let the official rules slip and resents interference. Whilst with Mills you have an officious little soldier who knows the rules inside out but doesn't understand what it is like to be in a regiment and the importance of the unit's spirit aw well as the rules.

What this all boils down to is that "Tunes of Glory" is one of those movies which catches you unaware, expecting little but delivering a lot from a very simple set up. For fans of old British movies it is a must watch movie with great performances through out and plenty of atmosphere.