05/24/2015  
Infected on DVD & Digital Video Jun 2See You in Valhalla on DVD May 26HeForShe Campaign Features Star-Studded Cannes ConversationDespite The Gods on DVD May 19The Gunman on Digital HD Jun 16 & Blu-ray Combo Jun 30So Bright Is the View on DVD May 26Bar Rescue: Toughest Rescues on DVD May 19

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Infected on DVD & Digital Video Jun 2...
See You in Valhalla on DVD May 26...
First look: Bill Murray in Netflix's "A Very Murray Chr...
'Late Show' Set Dismantled A Day After David Letterman ...
'Dancing With the Stars' Finale: Who Took Home the Gold...
Jane Fonda Admits She's 'Not Proud' of Plastic Surgery...
Everyone is missing the most important part of Louis C....
HeForShe Campaign Features Star-Studded Cannes Conversa...
Despite The Gods on DVD May 19...
Natalie Portman to Play Jackie Kennedy in Film About JF...



Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

The Criterion Collection presents
Tunes of Glory (1960)

"Whiskey for the gentlemen that like it, and for the gentlemen that don't like it... whiskey."
- Col. Jock Sinclair (Alec Guinness)

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: February 15, 2004

Stars: Alec Guinness, John Mills
Other Stars: Dennis Price, Kay Walsh, John Fraser, Susannah York
Director: Ronald Neame

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some language and adult content)
Run Time: 01h:47m:04s
Release Date: February 17, 2004
UPC: 037429185926
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-BC+ B

DVD Review

Tunes of Glory is probably the film Alec Guinness was thinking of when he said he regretted playing in Star Wars. He gives one of his best (and, reportedly, one of his favorite) performances as Jock Sinclair, a boorish drunkard commanding a peacetime battalion of Scottish soldiers in the years after World War II, and it's a shame to think such a layered, multi-faceted role would be overshadowed by a fairly minor part in a space opera that's really all about the special effects.

Sinclair is a self-proclaimed "up-by-the-bootstraps" officer who began as a piper (bagpipers played during marches and drills) and moved up in rank through his triumphs on the battlefield. He eventually was granted command of his own battalion, and he demands respect from his men, and gets it. In turn, he respects them—drinks with them, dances with them, and doesn't mind if the pipers are out of uniform during practice. But when Basil Barrow (John Mills), an upper class, by-the-book soldier who came to his rank by way of a military school, is assigned as his replacement, the two men become locked in a battle for control of both the battalion and the respect of the soldiers.

Ronald Neame, who had worked with Guinness in the past on Great Expectations with David Lean, directs a screenplay by James Kennaway, based on his novel. It's a difficult film to talk about, because so much of it is about mood, tone, and atmosphere, as nothing much strictly happens. We watch as Sinclair and Barrow undercut one another in dealing with troops, as Sinclair fights to maintain his control and Barrow tries to turn a group of largely untested soldiers into the perfect regiment. Their attitudes reveal their characters: Sinclair is brash, rude, and uneducated, and, it seems, he bristles at Barrows' intrusion not because he doesn't want to give up command, but because he wants to dominate the other man. Arrow, meanwhile, seems rather weak-willed and unhinged, and desires control over the troops as a way to control his own inner demons.

The wonderful supporting cast, including Susannah York as Sinclair's daughter and Dennis Price as Major Charles Scott, a cool, calculating officer who shows little respect for either Barrow or Sinclair, but Mills and Guinness are undoubtedly the stars of the show. Both of their characters are flawed, neither is very likeable. But both actors are able to make them, at the very least, understandable. It's hard to say which one is supposed to be the "hero." Though Guinness has more screen time, Sinclair's efforts to destroy another man undercut his star status, and the same is true for Mills—Barrow is a tragic, sad, and rather pathetic man.

Neame was the perfect director for this rather stage-y script. He is widely praised for stepping back and allowing his actors room to work. His camera is unobtrusive (something he talks about in the supplements), and his directorial choices are never obvious or distracting. He also made the decision to use music and sound effects to reveal the inner workings of his leads' tortured minds, but he does it sparingly, and for maximum effects. Kennaway's script is full of nuance and detail of the life of a member of a Scottish regiment. The soldier's daily routine provides a wonderful backdrop for the larger drama of the conflict between the two commanding officers, and the small character moments—as when Sinclair, who loves the drink, takes offense when Barrow won't accept an offer of whiskey (Sinclair counters with an offer for lemonade)—are all the richer for it.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: This is a decent restoration from Criterion, but not on par with their best. The colors look wonderful—the rich, warm hues are free of blooming or bleeding—and grain is natural and unobtrusive. Blacks are deep enough, and I spotted no digital anomalies. The only major problem is a large, dark line that covers a portion of the screen (and is surrounded by bands of discoloration) for about the last 15 minutes of the film. I realize it was probably too big a problem to fix, but it's very distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The original mono track is all right, but it sounds rather constricted and harsh. The vocals are clear, but tend to sound over modulated when characters are shouting or speaking loudly. Which is to say nothing of the bagpipe music, which gets quite shrill at times (more so than bagpipes usually sound). There is a bit of audible hiss in the background, but no audible pops or crackles.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. BBC television interview with Alec Guinness
  2. Audio interview with John Mills
Extras Review: Tunes of Glory is one of Criterion's "second tier" (read: cheaper) titles, but it still includes three substantial extras. The first is a 23-minute video interview with director Ronald Neame (which looks like it was conducted right along with his Hopscotch interview). He's got a good memory for detail and is quite engaging as he discusses working with such a noteworthy cast and filming in a style that lets the actors take center stage.

Sir John Mills' remembrances are presented in a new audio interview, and his comments are less worthwhile. The interviewer seems to get a bit flustered at times when Mills gives rather short, curt answers. Mills seems to have liked the film, but doesn't speak of it with any particular reverence. He seems rather indifferent, really, but maybe it's his age.

Finally, a vintage interview with Sir Alec Guinness, taken from the British BBC program Film Extra, doesn't focus specifically on Tunes of Glory, but is rather a series of musings about his young life and work he did at an advertising agency before he became an actor. It's interesting, and Guinness is a charming speaker, but I wish he'd actually spoken more about this role.

Also included is the trailer and a typically heady critical essay.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Never mind that Tunes of Glory has a wonderfully literary, understated script; never mind Ronald Neame's focused, understated direction,; never mind the wonderful supporting cast or the refreshing Scottish milieu. It's worth watching on the strength of the lead performances alone. Sirs Alec Guinness and John Mills both turn potential caricatures into living, breathing characters, and a rather obtuse stage play into an engrossing character drama.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

sci-fi, drama, television, a very murray christmas, bill murray, netflix, sophia coppola, george clooney, amy poehler, chris rock, paul shaffer, rashida jones, miley cyrus, the late show, david letterman, ed sullivan theater, taco bell, dancing with the stars, abc, rumer willis, riker lynch, noah galloway, val chmerkovskiy, celebrity, jane fonda, mile high club, plastic surgery, grace and frankie, saturday night live, louis c.k., racism, israel-palestine, movies, cannes, documentary, movie, jackie, jackie kennedy, darren aronofsky, pablo larrain, pitch perfect 2, rebel wilson, super fun night, derek hough, nastia liukin, american idol, fox, jennifer lopez, harry connick jr., keith urban, ryan seacrest, gary newman, daytime soap, general hospital, anthony geary, genie francis, frank valenti, mad max: fury road, mel gibson, george miller, tom hardy, hugh keays-byrne, charlize theron, the cw, arrow, the vampire diaries, supernatural, the originals, jane the virgin, the flash, the 100, izombie, reign, beauty and the beast, action, afc football championship game, jim mcnally, john jastremski, tom brady, bill belichick, music, prince, baltimore, rally 4 peace, freddie gray, 3rdeyegirl, metropolitan museum of art gala, kim kardashian, chloe sevigny, john paul gaultier, georgia may jagger, sarah jessica parker, rihanna, comedy, scifi, joss whedon, the avengers, chris evans, cris hemsworth, samuel l. jackson, scarlett johansson, jerem renner, revenge, manhattan love story, selfie, the mccarthys, the millers, gracepoint, mulaney, red band society, utopia, bad judge, dallas, 10th birthday party, kelly monaco, maks chmerkovskiy, meryl davis, hemorrhage, australia, tokyo, san francisco golden gate, docuementary

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store