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  • nick-kramer25 November 2005
    A rare film set in the Cyprus Emergency with some excellent character acting. Sensitive acting by Tom Courtney but also those playing the crusties.

    Note that National Service had just ended. The swinging sixties had not yet begun.

    Eric Thompson who plays the adjutant went on to write and narrate the magic roundabout.

    If you liked this for its take on the moral dilemmas of soldiering you could try "Tunes of Glory" although that is in colour and set in Scotland starring Alec Guiness. Another gem in my view is "Guns at Batasi" starring Richard Atteborough.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A soldier is to be court-martialled because he screamed during a mission.He tells his superiors he saw God .He can't describe his vision ,which is an answer which makes as sense as those of Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes.

    The movie does not give any answer ,which may put off some viewers .We will never know if the "hero" is a saint ,a mad hatter or a coward.A vision of God ,after all ,may also be simply a vision of death,which is a soldier's companion.

    Well acted by Tom Courtenay :it was not an easy task to portray such a man.A curio,but worth your time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Perhaps I'm not the best person to comment on the entertainment value or the artistic content of this movie, because my jaw just kept dropping as the story being told unfolded. I think a high percentage of mankind have experiences with God similar to what the character of Pvt. Potter had in the movie. When a person resists God the way Pvt. Potter did at first, it can be an unpleasant experience. But if the person accepts God-the way Pvt. Potter finally did- the peace can be beyond explaining. Pvt. Potter was totally at peace even about going to jail at the end. However, continued resistance will cause God to withdraw and cause the person to confine the experience to a convenient file in the brain--which most people do, thus explaining the lack of movies/stories/books on the subject. I am speaking from my own experience and from watching others who I know experienced the same thing. I just couldn't believe that anyone in the movie industry made this kind of movie. WAH/LHH
  • I went to the trouble of registering just so I could say my personal piece about this movie. I saw it by accident on television in about 1972 when I was in Southern California doing my M.A. This "little" movie cut right through to me. I dropped whatever useful thing I was doing and sat down to watch it through, thoroughly fascinated. I loved the fact that nobody knew the least thing about what was going on. Least of all, Private Potter. Or, possibly, least of all, the Padre. There was no pretense of being able to comprehend so unexpected, and even intolerable, a thing as the immediate presence of God/god/?. The likelihood that this extraordinary movie has gone down to the dirt in a vault somewhere actually grieves me.
  • 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.
  • Though my father owned a novelization of this, the film doesn’t have much of a reputation and, consequently, I missed out on it countless times on Cable TV (it’s a staple on TCM UK). However, ever since watching Joseph Losey’s similar but obviously superior KING AND COUNTRY (1964), I’ve wanted to check it out regardless…especially since both films feature Tom Courtenay in the lead role! The latter is a soldier who balks at doing his duty and, as per Military Law, a ordered which will decide his fate: in KING AND COUNTRY, Courtenay’s character deserted and is executed at the end (despite the valiant defense of Dirk Bogarde); here, he jeopardizes a mission by apparently losing his nerve – an act deemed reckless and which even leads to the death of a fellow soldier!

    The opening moments of the film are rather muddled, but interest picks up once the titular character is arrested. To begin with, he’s brought in for questioning in front of his Commanding Officer – whom Potter astonishes by saying that his ‘cowardly’ reaction was due to his having had a vision of God! At this, the private is considered mad – so, his superiors think of passing him on to a psychiatrist; however, before taking this step, they request the intervention of a priest. The latter queries Potter about his idea of religion – to which the young man replies that he wasn’t a devout believer…so, why would God choose him as a vessel?

    Incidentally, Potter’s interrogation is intercut with that (by a debuting Frank Finlay) of an injured local – the narrative is set in Cyprus – who had tried to warn his people of the approaching British troops; by the way, I’ll be watching soon another film dealing with the UK intervention in this country – namely THE HIGH BRIGHT SUN (1964) and which, coincidentally, stars Dirk Bogarde. Potter – a mild-mannered young man with an unhappy childhood – makes no discernible progress and, eventually, is assigned to a mental hospital; however, on the way there, he manages to escape. The CO, on his part, goes to see the Brigadier to seek his advise whether to proceed with the court-martial or not; being a soldier of the old school, he feels only contempt for Potter’s behavior and even asks his subordinate if Potter is a homosexual! At the end, Potter is returned to base (after he’s caught taking a bath in a lake) and receives a visit from the CO wishing him good luck for the upcoming trial.

    Courtenay – who would eventually reteam with director Wrede for ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH (1971) – was a fine actor (albeit with a limited range) who emerged during the “Angry Young Men” era of British cinema; this film, as I said in my introduction, isn’t one of his more celebrated – having been superseded by the higher-profile (and somewhat more absorbing) KING AND COUNTRY. Having mentioned once more the connection with Losey’s film, I recall comparing that one back then to PATHS OF GLORY (1957); as for PRIVATE POTTER, it reminded me of the Richard Widmark vehicle I watched recently – TIME LIMIT (1957), given that both deal with the gathering of facts prior to a court-martial (rather than with the trial itself).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Cyprus Emergency was my generation's Iraq.Except in one vital sphere.Iraq is being fought by a volunteer army,Cyprus was fought by conscripts.Badly trained,much of their uniforms and equipment left over from the second world war,most of the British soldiers had never been further away from home than Blackpool or Southend,unlike their 21st century counterparts who are fitter,stronger,more cosmopolitan and beneficiaries of far more sophisticated battlefield medicine - the legacies of numerous conflicts in the intervening four decades. There was no such thing as post-traumatic-stress-disorder,no counselling,no letters to the newspapers complaining about bullying,the squaddies of 1961 just got on with it.They moaned and groaned of course,they had every right to.After all the vast majority of them were too young to vote for a government that could send them against their wills to die in a country where the same government made certain they couldn't afford to holiday. These unfortunate young men were led by officers for the most part unused to fighting a guerilla war,much happier leading their chaps in tactical formations tried and tested against two generations of Germans who,for all their faults,were at least a visible enemy. They didn't like fighting against "civilians" in hot and dusty towns and villages,hemmed in by houses,and surrounded by stone-throwing young men.In short,everything that late 20th century wars were to become. Private Potter(Mr Tom Courtenay)a perfectly decent,ordinary young working-class lad is pushed,along with his comrades,into this unlikely and hostile theatre of war.Urged to maintain absolute silence prior to a major attack,he cries out,alerting the enemy to the soldiers' presence."Pour encourager les autres",presumably,he is Court- Martialled and runs the slightly unusual defence of having had a vision of God. For all it's intriguing premise,"Private Potter" is a bit of a mess.The night battle scene is virtually indistinguishable ,the interiors like an Am Dram production of "Journey's End" and the acting mediocre.Mr COurtenay was to play another Court-Martialled soldier a year or two later in "King and Country" to much better effect. Together with "The high,bright sun","Private Potter" is one of the very few films about the British Army in Cyprus,and as such is a curio,but not much more.With Northern Cyprus now opening up for general tourism it shouldn't be forgotten that a lot of our young men went there to fight a war they had absolutely no stake in and no choice but to wage. Please give them a thought when you're throwing your towel over your sunbed.
  • Hard to put a label on this movie. The movie begins as a (rather poor) non-serious comedy but slowly turns into dramatic war movie about morals and belief.

    This in my opinion was a very poor and even odd movie to watch. The movie as a whole made a very redundant impression and it seemed like the filmmakers themselves weren't even sure what kind of movie they wanted to make and in what style.

    The story is about a young soldier, who during a raid, during the The Cyprus Emergency, suddenly starts screaming, causing the death of a fellow solider. The young solider later claims he saw a vision of God, which ultimately leads to his superiors questioning his sanity. How do writers come up with these sort of things?! Later one they more start to believe and protect him and the movie gets multiple layered with themes such as morals and belief. Problem that none of the subjects ever get fully lighted and developed, which causes the movie to make an incomplete and unsatisfying impression.

    I like movies that handle fairly unknown and sort of forgotten subjects regarding human history, especially military one's. This movie concentrates on The Cyprus Emergency but it doesn't do much with this subject and backdrop unfortunately. I mean, if this movie had been about WW II the movie would had just been the same and certainly not any better or worse.

    Tom Courtenay really did poorly in this movie. He never made the character sympathetic or likable enough and on top if that, his acting was just below par. But oh well, it's his first ever movie role, so it's sort of explainable. Thanks goodness that the other actors in this movie do know how to act.

    Some scene's and dialogs seemed to be endless, until they reached the point that they became irritating and tiresome. The movie is only 89 minutes short but it really shouldn't had been any longer!

    The movie obviously didn't had a very high budget but they did a good job with it. The movie isn't cheap looking, which is also thanks to the fine looking locations and environments of the movie.

    Awkward little movie, that does't really have any redeeming qualities.