- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Suggestion: The Films of Stanley Baker
Having witnessed the recent showing of "Yesterday's Enemy" on TCM, I nominate Sir Stanley Baker for consideration as a Star of the Month. One of the outstanding British acting talents of the '50s and '60s, isn't it time to honor his memory with a retrospective of some of his best and/or least seen movies? Here's a list of his best: "Hell Drivers" ('57), "Violent Playground" ('57), "Chance Meeting" ('59), "Jet Storm" ('59), Concrete Jungle" ('60), "Hell is a City" ('60), "Eva" ('62), "Robbery" ('67) and "Perfect Friday" ('70). One could also include "Zulu" ('64), "Sands of the Kalahari" ('65), and the aforementioned "Yesterday's Enemy", but the first two are shown so often and the last I've seen already on TCM. Let TCM uncover more gems from the career of this seminal actor!
A film that is at once withering and unimpeachable in its portrayal of the grim facts of warfare and the high price men in uniform are asked to pay: The ragged remnants of a WWII British brigade in Burma caught far behind enemy lines struggle to maintain themselves against impossible odds and an encroaching enemy. Stanley Baker is outstanding as an officer pushed to the limits of his endurance, even to the point of committing a war crime in order to notify headquarters of an impending attack. Leo McKern as a skeptical journalist and Guy Rolfe as the sincere padre are twin voices of conscience to counter Baker's excesses with Richard Pasco as a foundering second-in-command who finds his courage moments before dying. The lessons about the politics of armed conflict and the importance of maintaining moral conduct in the face of certain death are harrowing. British Cinema at its finest.
Tightly directed morality play w/consummate acting
- Henry Hoffman
The showing of Hammer's YESTERDAY'S ENEMY, a gem in the pocket of film history, continues to make all of us, who are lovers of this art form of the millennium, deeply appreciate the growing ambitioniousness of TCM's programming. The film is directed by Val Guest w/ a fierce cinematic pulse that drives the story into an inexorability where the only release for its characters is death. Guest's precise mise en scene continually pulls the viewer into the strophe-antistrophe of its powerful argument. It is acted with an expertness that prevails as bravado: all of the actors are soaked in the storyline, so that each moment is being spun from a vortex--they are ahead of the viewer, which is what keeps alive the expectations of the action structure. I grew up w/ Sir Stanley Baker, Guy Rolfe, Leo McKern, Gordon Jackson, Richard Pasco, who all had their roots in the theatre & were therefore heroes of mine. Gosh, it is not impossible, for example, to imagine from Baker's supercharged performance the early line drawing for a great Macbeth. And how 'bout Wolf Morris' creative freedom in the role of the informer? A dogged unpredictability pervades his work.