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  • Quite a poignant movie if I remember correctly and I've only seen it once, when first released. For some reason I've always thought the title was "Red letter day" and not "The Queens Guards".Maybe someone can check it out or maybe I'm like the Raymond Massey character, just getting old with my memory playing tricks.

    Considering it was made at the start of the 60's the generation gap is in full swing here between father and son, both military men, the father played by Raymond Massey is a crippled veteran. The son, played by Massey's real life son Daniel is a Guardsman poised to take the Queen's salute and standard at that day's ceremony. The storyline involves tradition, honour and indeed bitterness and the bickering between father and son on the day of the "Trooping of the Colour", a pageant which takes place every June in London's "Horseguards Parade" in honour of the Queens Birthday. There is a flashback sequence telling of the son's ignominious military exploits over the Suez crisis which the father believes is a blot on the family AND the guards. There is a dead son who the father believes deserves all the family honour.The wrong son died syndrome.

    The scene where Massey struggles to get to the window using a cane to pull himself along on bars attached to the ceiling of the apartment overlooking Horseguards Parade.(Now THAT apartment I would love to have) in time to watch his son take the Queen's salute is indeed poignant. It is actually quite a stuffy film but very fine acting from all concerned saves it from complete obscurity.Not Michael Powell's best effort.
  • "Guards! Guards! Call out the Guards!" And this could only mean the Queen's Guards and the English look to them in times of military emergency. With their ceremonial uniform of Buckingham red with that unlikely shako supposedly made of bear skin; with their mounted units wearing polished breastplates during full dress parades, they are world famous as tourist attractions. Little do people know that these are the cream of the elite of the British military corps. If I am not mistaken, their members are selected from the various services. Thus, they are commandos, paratroopers, tank men, intelligence specialists, etc.

    As a little boy, I was fully taken in by the ceremonial parade at the end of the movie: "Escort to the colors! Forward!" Somehow when the goosestep is done by The Guards, it doesn't seem sinister. And the intricate but highly dignified dressage executed by the commander of the mounted unit is admirable.

    The military action is in the Middle East in connection with the Suez Canal crisis in 1956. Egypt then took full control of the canal and the British and French felt that their interests were threatened.

    There is a touching scene near the end during a ceremonial parade with the Queen in attendance. A semi-paralyzed veteran has an apartment overlooking the square (Trafalgar?). He's bedridden but he manages to put on his military uniform. There is a series of bars on the ceiling of his apartment and with a hook or a cane, he manages to get a hold of them and he painfully and laboriously locomotes himself to the window to get a view of The Guards as they are honored by the Queen.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    May 2011:

    After watching Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's tremendous 1950 film Gone To Earth,I decided to take a look at co-director Michael Powell's IMDb page.With having read in articles for years that Powell had completely stopped making movies after filming the 1960 movie Peeping Tom,I was shocked to discover that he had actually made a number of TV/film projects.Expecting to find the title included in one of the 100's of Powell/Pressburger boxsets that have come out over the years,I was shocked to discover,that the movie had not been included in a single boxset.

    Mid 2012:

    Reading up on some movie news,I was shocked to discover that the BFI was holding a special one-off screening of The Queens Guard's in London,with the only problem being that I live 6 hours away from London,and that the screening was being held later that day.E-Mailing a few British DVD companies about their being any chance of the title now coming out on DVD,I was shocked to receive replies that their was no chance of the movie coming out on DVD,due to it not being "commercial"

    November 2013:

    Being unable to sleep one night,I decided to pick up my mobile phone,and search for any information on film titles that I was very interested in taking a look at.Deciding to search round for any info about the BFI's screening of The Queen's Guard's in 2012,I was astonished to stumble upon a DVD of the title,which led to me jumping out of bed and rushing to the laptop,in the hope that I could finally join the queens guards.

    The plot:


    As he takes part in the Trooping of the colour ceremony,army officer John Fellows begins to think about the events that led him here.

    Years earlier:

    Despite all of his attempts to be seen as "his own man",John finds himself unable to escape from the shadow of his brother David towering above him,with his dad telling Fellows that he will never be as extraordinary his (late) brother was,whilst his mum, (who cant accept that David has died,and instead claims that he is MIA) constantly ask Fellows why he cant be more like his brother David.

    Taking a different view from John's parents,fellow army officer Henry Wynne-Walton tells Fellows that all of the soldiers who have died on missions are "quitters".Getting into a fight with Henry,John and Wynne- Walton are pulled apart,and ordered to make up by an army general.

    After each of them sorry to the other for not behaving in the correct manner,Henry decides to give John a kind offer of dropping him off to his parents house.With Fellow's family living miles away,John decides to quietly sigh,and accept Wynne-Walton's offer,which will lead to Henry meeting Fellows family for the first time.Being warmly welcomed by the family,Wynne-Walton is showed by stories about the bravely of Fellows deceased brother David,and told that John will never be able to match his brothers legacy.Unbeknownst to Fellows,as he lowers his head to block out the surrounding noise,John's dad makes sure to keep a letter hidden,that reveals David to have not been the war hero that he is making him out to be…

    View on the film:

    Made just after he had completed Peeping Tom,but before the movie had reached cinemas,director Michael Powell gives the film a terrific,humble elegance atmosphere by contrasting the extravagant exterior appearance of the military with the Trooping of the Colours sequence, (filmed during a real Trooping)with a more down beat,and down to earth interior,as Powell shows all of the soldiers being unable to feel that they have reached the level of greatness,which stands high above,and casts a long shadow across them.

    Going back to a number of different time periods to see the frustrations of history and myth-making that lay in front of Fellows,the screenplay by Roger Milner and Simon Harcourt-Smith strikes a careful balance of not making a mockery of the life threatening situations that John puts himself in,whilst also peeling away any mythical aspect from the films soldiers,with the writers superbly showing that John's family focus on making David into a mythical icon,leads to them completely ignoring the reality of the situations that their surviving son is facing.

    Peeling Johns army uniform away layer by layer,Daniel Massey gives a superbly subtle,quiet performance as Fellows,with the weight on his shoulders from the near Fantasy tales that his parents tell him about David being something that presses down on his shoulders from the moment that he begins his journey to Trooping the Colours,as Fellows begins to think that this is his one and only chance,to become one of the queens own guards.
  • malcolmgsw23 September 2019
    That was Powell's view of this film.Terrible was my view when I saw it on its release in 1961.I have not changed my view.There is very little in the way of narrative.At times it is more of a recruiting film.Powells last British film,what a waste.
  • I'm guessing that since tourists and subjects of Her Majesty Elizabeth, II stand around for hours watching the Coldstream Guards in their various military ceremonies Michael Powell decided that a story about the guards would be a money maker and tourist bait. I'm sure that The Queen's Guards succeeded on both levels.

    It's a pity a better story was not provided in between all the footage of the cream of the British military doing the pageantry they're known for. But it isn't all spit and polish and drill for these guys. They're the best of fighting soldiers for the British army and it's one exclusive club to get into.

    The story such as it is has guards officers Daniel Massey and Robert Stephens spending some time away from the guards at Massey's home. Where movie and real life father Raymond Massey hosts them along with wife and mother Ursula Jeans.

    The family tragedy that looms large over the household is that of a late older brother who never returned from the desert fighting in World War II. They say he's missing, but Raymond Massey knows better. Later on in some action in some archetypal Middle East Principality where Great Britain has a treaty with the rulers Daniel Massey and Stephens face a similar situation to what led Massey's older brother to be killed.

    Quite frankly the plot got in the way of the Coldstream Guards and their ceremonies. And it didn't make a lot of sense. It's a rarely seen film now, but Michael Powell did a whole lot better than The Queen's Guards in his career.