Private Potter (1962)

  |  Drama, War


Private Potter (1962) Poster

A military mission is interrupted when a soldier claims that God had appeared to him in a transcendental vision.


6.1/10
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6 February 2008 | trimmerb1234
6
| Luvvies on Parade. Surprisingly disappointing
Given the involvement of at least two British theatrical luminaries - Ronald Harwood and Tom Courtney - and the unusual nature of the story - it is difficult to understand how this film came to disappoint in all departments.

Firstly the atmosphere seemed all rather soft - a soldier has been killed unnecessarily by the inexplicable apparently foolish or treacherous actions of a colleague. More drama, cursing, bitterness and recrimination follow in commercial organisations when someone screws up than is to be seen here (compare for example "Glengarry Glen Ross"). An earlier reviewer recommended "Tunes of Glory" to which I'd add Sydney Lumet's "The Hill" for films approaching realistic harshness.

The Cyprus campaign was part civil, part guerrilla war. Extremes of fear, anger, disgust at civilian on civilian atrocities and lust for revenge were daily experience for participants on all sides. In these circumstances British WW2 veterans, toughened up by their experience have come into their world a soft and dreamy young conscript Private Potter(Courtney). These veterans either would have had some sympathy for Potter - that or complete anger and contempt for his actions and outlandish explanation. He was after all responsible for a fellow soldier's completely unnecessary death. Given that the basis of soldiering is looking after mates, this would have been an unforgivable action, perhaps deserving of summary justice, especially on an odd outsider whose motives would be doubted.

Potter's religious experience suggests that there will be profound things said about religion but nothing is. Potter's psychology one would have thought have been explored but isn't. Potter speaks of his always being frightened even when alone yet shows little sign of this being very able to speak up for himself, not at all in awe of authority. When he flings himself on the floor it appears like suspect histrionics rather than genuine emotion. Courtney's performance combines a degree of campness with evidence of a tough and resilient personality. Potter gives an example of what as a child he regarded as bravery - the ability to spit at a priest. Of all the things children might have considered doing, this I don't believe was one of them (for authentic renderings of British childhood of the period see "Blue Remembered Hills" and John Boorman's "Hope and Glory"). Authenticity seemed sacrificed to slightly portentous theatricality throughout.

Tom Courtney delivers stock Tom Courtney and is as usual nothing less than thoroughly professional. Other actors deliver their lines as best they can. The lighting - nearly all interiors - is of that flat over-filled "B"movie kind. This is close to being a bad film. It fails to hit any target.

Critic Reviews


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Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Drama | War

Details

Language

English


Country of Origin

UK

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