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  • The BBC recently aired this on a lazy Monday afternoon in mid-August when probably not many were watching. But as this was made by Terence Young (future director of some prolific Bondmovies) I happened to tape it.

    What a great surprise this proves to be. Probably about the sole movie account of a (chiefly) British tank battalion journey into France and Belgium after D-Day.

    I will admit it's all very "stiff British upperlip" (jolly good show boys and so on)and especially the romance segments have dated badly, but there is a true feel of authenticity, not only that it's made about 4 years after WWII, but the director gives a realistic and almost documentary-like style to the battle scenes.

    It all moves along at a brisk pace, and being a bit of WWII buff, it gave me a very rare insight and almost 'behind the scenes' view of a tankbatallion in action in 1944.

    I'll doubt if it is available on DVD so you will maybe have to wait till the BBC airs it again, in 10 years or so !
  • This is an early work of Terence Young, the director, but a well-made, engrossing and ultimately very moving British war drama of World War II. Interestingly a very young Desmond Llewelyn has a cameo role as a Welsh tank commander, and when it came time for Young to find a new Q for the second James Bond movie, the original no longer being available, he remembered Llewelyn and cast him in what is now the longest running continuous role in the James Bond saga.
  • Typical British WW2 film but made interesting with battle scene of Tiger tanks - must have been war loot and what happened to it after the film was made? Sadly the film shows just how smallminded and nitpicking the officers are towards the men during training and then battle. Tank driver being told to button tunic up to chin despite heat in tank! Romantic scenes are very believable. It is well worth watching though!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Two men join the Welsh Guards early in the war, one a married Englishman (Underdown), the other an American (Clanton). The Guards are a varied lot -- Irish, Welsh, and other "colonials" as well as the British. It leads to a quietly amusing scene. The drill instructor demands that all the English in the ranks take two steps forward and all the colonials take two steps backward. The American is left standing alone between the two. When he explains, the drill sergeant says the Army is divided into two parts, English and non-English, so Clanton steps back and joins the Canadians and the rest. That's about as funny as it gets.

    The first half of the film belongs to the "training camp" genre. "Button up that top button!" "SAH!" Underdown gets to spend time with his wife and both of them become close friends of Clanton, who falls in love with a British beauty he finds swimming in "the Witch's Pool." There's nothing much we haven't seen before.

    The second half has the two men in tanks, landing at Normandy and rushing through what appears to be every battle of any significance in the European theater. There are a few combat scenes. One is unique. A British tank is hit (whether by mine or German shell we never know), skids off the road, and rolls onto its side.

    But the combat is hurried and conveyed by montage -- tanks wheels spin, airplanes roar overhead, parachutists drop from the sky, explosions take place, men stop for tea and make easy jokes about one another. It seems to have been put together for people who have already been there or who remember the meaning of place names like Arnhem, Caen, the Ardennes, and Nijmegen. If you don't know, it's going to seem as if the Welsh Guards land their tanks and race through Europe, losing an occasional vehicle.

    If you keep your eyes and ears open, you may learn why Montgomery was so slow taking Caen, while Patton zoomed South and around into mid-France. At the end, Clanton lies wounded, tended by Underdown, and both friends are destroyed by a German 88. The Irishman who buries them plants an American flag one on grave and an English flag on the other, but he can't remember which grave is which, so he leaves them at random. The wind whips the two tiny flags until they dip towards one another and finally touch. It's an excessively pathetic ending but I found it moving nevertheless.

    There's nothing particularly innovative about the movie. It's mostly stuff we've seen before. And it seems more dated than most British war movies of the period, which tended to be quite good. The message is in boldface: "We Must All Pull Together," English and Americans, Irish, Welsh, and so forth. But by 1950 the war had been over for several years, so what was the point? An apologia for the American servicemen who were "overpaid, oversexed, and over here"? But they were mostly gone when this movie was made. That's what I mean by the word "dated." I found the courtship of the American and his British swimming mate kind of interesting. During the war, American men are supposed to have thought that British girls were "fast"; ie., easy. At the same time, British girls considered American men "fast"; ie., too eager to become engaged and married. Margaret Mead, the anthropologist who was there at the time, concluded that the misunderstanding was due to differences in courtship patterns. For Americans, kissing came early in the process. For Brits, it was a much later step, signaling serious commitment, just prior to marriage. Thus, culture clash according to the Venerable Mead.

    As I say, I found the last scene to be poignant, though I knew I was being recklessly manipulated. Well, after all, we've just spent 92 minutes with two polite fellows who have never harbored a harsh thought towards each other or anyone else.
  • It's life life of a tank division of the Welsh Guards -- writer-director Terence Young's unit during the Second World War -- from training through the Battle of the Bulge. It centers on an American volunteer, Ralph Clanton, and Edward Underdown, but it's a movie of flashes and vignettes, impressions of war closely realized, where a battlefield has a dead cow amid the advancing tanks, and crews are briefed in barns, where cockerels strut about.

    There's little doubt in my mind that Young drew the threads of this movie from his own experience, and hewed to the dictum that drama is life with the dull parts cut out. The result is a series of closely drawn individuals, including Michael Trubshawe in his screen debut and Christopher Lee in a small role in his eighth movie: to some a career, but he would appear in 188 more.

    The only times when the movie slows down, when scenes last minutes instead of seconds, is when Underdown is with his wife, Helen Cherry, and Clanton with his English girlfriend, Stella Andrew. These, the film tells us, are life. The rest of it, the entire war, is some weird, senseless dream.
  • This early Terence Young film is a unique masterpiece of its kind. It tells a true story of two soldiers getting trained and fighting together from after Dunkirk up to the battle of the Ardennes, that is four years, giving a very natural and meticulous account of their lives and comrades, their jokes, their life in the barracks, their girls and wifes and sweethearts, their dreams and their every day existence at war, at the front, at the pub, at some parties - a film couldn't almost be more humanly documentary. In addition, the direction is superb all the way, perfectly natural, the pace is constantly efficient and sustained the whole way, it doesn't really tell a story, it just follows the soldiers around everywhere, the dialogue is intensive the whole way, and it is not until the last scenes when it all comes together and proves an overwhelming masterpiece. This is a film to watch again.
  • I was hoping for a more compelling film; but there was far too much dialogue, and not enough action. Especially, after the basic training section of the film, which is actually the better part of the movie.

    There were just too many bromides and cliches that were continually interfering with the natural evolution of the film. The actors did a competent job, as did the director, but the production values, to say the least, were slipshod. Maybe it was because it was an armored division. Armored division films of WW all seem to suffer from similar shortcomings; with the exception of Patton. Films like The Battle of the Bulge, The Battle of Alamein, Desert Fox, Rommel, and even the modern Fury with Brad Pitt, all had character development problems, action sequence problems, and pacing problems.

    Doing dialogue for these types of films is very difficult to accomplish; that is why very few of them are highly praised compared to infantry, naval, and air force films. The natural confining aspect of a tank does not lend itself to good development of dialogue. However, to be fair, the film is watchable and entertaining, and will satisfy most WW 2 genre fans.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This was Terence Young's fourth outing behind the camera and perhaps wisely he opted to play it safe opting for a subject - the second world war - that was still providing material some five years after it ended and illustrating it via the usual tried-and-true clichés. After a somewhat stodgy, pedestrian opening Young allows his two protagonists, Edward Underdown and Ralph Campan, to steadily forge the friendship that is the core of the film. In true cliché style they met on their first day of basic training, graduated as officers together and served in the same regiment. We follow them in their day jobs through France post D-Day and in their other lives - Underdown happily married to Helen Cherry and Campan, a late developer, finding a wife of his own about the eighth reel. There was really only one way to end it and Young obliges by killing them both off in the last reel and having them buried in twin graves by a third man, a sergeant, who had also met them on the first day of basic training. Made in 1950 it's a tad hard to swallow in 2010.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a strange little movie, as mentioned before, it has the feel of a wartime propaganda picture, especially with its very strong pro-American, brothers-in-arms message. 'They were not divided' was in fact released in 1950, well after this kind of film was out of fashion, but having said that, the portrayal of the 3 main characters (an American, a Brit and an Irishman, serving with the Guards regiment)is warm and affectionate, and although underplayed, succeeds by involving the viewer to care about their friendship and feeling their pain and joy depending on the situation. They find themselves in every major European battle post D-Day, and in-between their love lives. The ending of the film was very sad indeed, and although we have become attached to the lead characters, we are not exposed to any over-sentimental tripe, the camaraderie feels genuine, almost real. It ain't The Dirty Dozen or The Longest Day, but it has a long forgotten quality which is sadly lacking in war movies of this day and age.
  • THEY WERE NOT DIVIDED is a near-forgotten British WW2 movie, directed by none other than Terence Young, the man who would later helm DR NO and FROM Russia WITH LOVE amongst other well-remembered movies. By comparison, this is the kind of film that few people bother watching and even fewer remember these days. It doesn't help that the script is quite dry, the narrative fairly stodgy, and there's a distinct lack of big-name actors to give audiences a reason to watch. Instead, THEY WERE NOT DIVIDED goes for a low key, almost documentary-style approach as it follows new recruits as they join a Welsh Guards battalion, train, and eventually journey to France to see action in their tanks.

    This kind of template is familiar from the modern-day likes of BAND OF BROTHERS but the execution is only so-so here. There's a lot of talk and back-and-forth dialogue, but when it comes to the action, the big set-pieces that everybody remembers are hurried through. Stock footage is also used quite liberally. I didn't mind the unknown lead actors, although the heavy-handed messages smack of propaganda (basically, America and Britain should work together as one) which is bizarre given that the war had been over for four years when this was shot.

    Most of the fun comes from spotting future actors in support. Michael Brennan (LUST FOR A VAMPIRE) is particularly good fun as the enthusiastic Welsh soldier, and there's a cameo from real-life RSM Brittain, who adds some humour. Christopher Lee only has a couple of lines but is in the background in almost every scene in the film, while future Q Desmond Llewellyn plays a tank driver.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A middle class married Brit and an American working in London join the Welsh Guards armoured regiment at Caterham in 1940. We follow them through basic training, after which they are both commissioned. For the next few years nothing happens, except their tanks keep having to be repainted depending on where they are not going. Eventually they are landed in Normandy after D-Day, and then fight their way through to the Ardennes, where they are both killed. Along the way we meet a variety of characters, officers and men, to show the British Army at its best. Along the way also, the Brit gets leave to see his wife, and the American meets a nurse skinny dipping in a lake behind his friend's house. Just after Arnhem the two hitch a lift back to Northolt for 48 hours leave, during which time the American marries and impregnates the Englishwoman. What came over well in the film was the waiting of war, all the non-fighting activities which went on (including the liberation of German stores and supplies, such as champagne), the long drives through Europe, punctuated by hordes of delirious liberated French and Belgians, occasional sharp and terrifying battle moments, and the loss of friends though enemy action and careless accident. There was a great deal of actual wartime footage, interspersed with staged sequences using real wartime equipment (the tank rolling over was quite spectacular). Biggest goof was when the two officers come out of Northolt and hitch a lift to London in the wrong direction.
  • Starting 'today' with Princess Elizabeth riding behind her late father on Horse Guard's Parade, and then flashing back to 1941. Harry Waxman's atmospheric black & white photography facilitates the use of copious amounts of actuality footage (including both Montgomery & Eisenhower), rather at odds with Lambert Williamson's lush score.

    Director Terence Young later hit the big time with the James Bond films; hence the reappearance in them of several of this film's supporting cast (including 'Q' himself).