Saturday, February 28, 2015

Off Script: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Film: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Format: DVD from personal collection on laptop.

Once I heard that Leonard Nimoy died yesterday, I pretty much knew that I’d be watching the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I’m a big evangelist for the original version from the 1950s, but I have avoided this first remake for one main reason. I’d heard that it was good from a lot of people but I was worried that it wouldn’t compare with the first version. I hoped it would, but there was a part of me that very much feared being disappointed. This was especially true because the 1993 version (Body Snatchers) and the 2007 version (The Invasion) were not widely regarded as being worth watching.

My fears were unfounded. This is a very good movie, and a very good version of the basic story. This is also one of those rare instances where I have read the source material. I find it very interesting that in both the original film and in this first remake, the filmmakers have opted for a much more downbeat ending than the book on which the story is based. There are a number of differences here from the original story and original screen version, but this is smart enough to hit the same emotional beats and the same plot points and important moments.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Darkness Promised, not Delivered

Film: The Dark Angel
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

This quest to watch all of the Oscar nominated films in the categories I’m looking at takes me to some odd places now and then. It’s led me to a number of movies I’d never have seen and am happy to have watched, but it also leads me to many films where I find the nomination and even the film completely ridiculous. Such is the case with The Dark Angel. This is a film that makes me question pretty much everyone involved with it. Couldn’t they tell this was syrupy garbage? Was there so little self-awareness that the plot headed directly into the silliest of melodramas?

We start with our three principle characters as children. Kitty Vane (Cora Sue Collins), while about six, has already decided that she will marry one of the two boys who live next door. True to Hollywood standards, the boys who live next door are not Kitty’s age but are closer to 12. They are Gerald Shannon (Jimmy Butler) and Alan Trent (James C. Baxter). Kitty is already leaning toward Alan being her eventual husband. We get a little bit of hijinks with the kids and then we flash forward to the film’s present when marriage between Kitty (now played by Merle Oberon) and one of the two boys is much more reasonable.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

We Need More Karloff

Film: The Criminal Code
Format: Internet video on laptop.

A film like The Criminal Code is evidence that the American movie-going public has been fascinated with crime films pretty much since there have been films, or at least talkies. As it happens, The Criminal Code is a decent example of a prison film, albeit one filled with what would become every prison movie stereotype in existence. The power of this film is dimmed significantly by the fact that it was released around the same general time as Little Caesar and The Public Enemy, both of which are superior in all ways. Still, for what it is, there’s some fun to be had here.

We start with Robert Graham (Phillips Holmes), a young man who has just turned 20 and has also gotten himself into a lot of trouble. Another man paws Graham’s date in a speakeasy, so Graham retaliates with a bottle upside the guy’s head. Unfortunately for Graham, this kills his victim, and even with a plea bargain down to manslaughter, Graham is sent up for ten long years in prison.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fly Me to the Moon

Film: Kaguyahime no Monogatari (The Tale of Princess Kaguya)
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

I can’t say that I was terribly excited about watching Kaguyahime no Monogatari (The Tale of Princess Kaguya). There’s a part of me that is still upset about The LEGO Movie being passed over for an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature this year. It seems like there’s always a foreign animated film or two that gets a nomination. It feels sometimes like it’s a sop to the idea that foreign animation exists. In truth, I have generally liked these non-American animated films across the board, so my initial trepidation here isn’t really that explainable.

But it was real. It took me several days to even think about putting this in the drive and watching it, and even then, I didn’t get past the first menu for another 24 hours. I’m reminded at times like this that I should probably trust more. The entire reason for this blog was to open me up to new cinematic experiences, so it’s not really in keeping with this blog’s raison d’etre to back off from something when the opportunity presents itself.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Not a Single Luxury

Film: Cast Away
Format: Streaming video from NetFlix on The Nook.

By 2000, everyone knew that Tom Hanks could be the leading man in a film. He’d done enough of them by that point, had won two consecutive acting Oscars, and had been the name above the title with enough critically acclaimed and box office-successful films that his star power was well known. The question Cast Away asks is whether or not Tom Hanks can be the sole focus of a film for a large part of its running time. Cast Away runs about 2 hours and 25 minutes, and the middle 75 are just Hanks either talking to himself or to a volleyball.

For what it’s worth, Cast Away is also a long advertisement for Federal Express, particularly the first 20 minutes or so. Chuck Noland (Hanks) works for FedEx resolving timing problems and finding more efficient ways to handle packages and systems. To do so, he travels around the world being all punctual and berating various levels of FedEx employees for being slow or not caring enough about time. Se see this initially in a visit he pays to Moscow, complaining that it took more than 80 hours for the package he sent from Memphis to reach him near Red Square. I’m immediately struck by the fact that it seems that a great deal of the time issue here didn’t specifically happen because of the Russian employees.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What's It All About?

Film: Alfie
Format: Streaming video from Hoopla Digital on The Nook.

Michael Caine makes some bad choices with the movies he picks. How else do you explain his missing picking up his first Oscar because he was on the set of Jaws: The Revenge? It seems like there’s never been a script that Caine has turned down. Fortunately for his career and for those of us who watch films, Caine also makes a lot of really good choices. Alfie is one of his really good choices.

Alfie has a plot, but it is more a character study than anything else. Our time is spent with the eponymous Alfie Elkins (Caine), who is such a ladies man that James Bond takes lessons from him. As the film starts, Alfie has just finished having sex with a married woman in his car. He confides to the audience that he’s going to stop seeing this particular woman because she’s getting too dependent on him, predicting (rightly) that she’ll want him to meet her husband next. We’re then given a quick tour of all of Alfie’s current partners—neither the film nor Alfie himself would dare call them love interests.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Don't Bother

Film: Madame X
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

I sometimes have to force myself to watch some of the older films on my lists. There are certainly some films from the early years of the cinema that are worth watching, but plenty of these early films are tough watches. Madame X is sadly one of the second sort. I knew within the first five minutes that this was going to be a difficult watch for its entire running time. It’s not merely the melodrama; it’s the insane overacting. Anyone who put together a performance like Ruth Chatterton does in this would be laughed out of the theater today.

So brace yourself for plaintive violins and extreme drama. Madame X tells the story of Parisian woman Jacqueline (Chatterton), who is the definition of wanton in the late 1920s. How is she wanton? Well, despite being married and having a son, she also (gasp) has a lover. Her husband Floriot (Lewis Stone) has realized this and has kicked her out of the house. We actually start five years into this story. The boy is ill and Jacqueline tries to get in to see him. Floriot refuses her entry, though, and banishes her from his house.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It's Better to Burn Out than to Fade Away

Film: Iris
Format: DVD from DeKalb Public Library on laptop.

A film like Iris is one where I understand all of the nominations, wonder why there weren’t more nominations, and even understand the importance of the film. What I don’t understand is why someone would see a film like this in the theater. Iris is an astonishingly intimate film; I can’t imagine that it would be better seeing these characters blown up to gigantic proportions on the screen. Admittedly, when I pay for a movie, I want to see explosions and special effects, so I may be biased. There is a part of me that thinks a film like Iris only improves the smaller the screen gets.

This is the story of Iris Murdoch (played in the present by Judi Dench and in flashback by Kate Winslet). Iris is a renowned novelist, speaker, and philosopher who, as the film begins in the present, is succumbing to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. Yes, this is going to be that kind of movie. We spend time equally in Iris’s increasingly murky and muddy present and her vibrant and exotic past. In both places, much of the story revolves around her romance with John Bayley (Jim Broadbent and Hugh Bonneville) and the contrast between those two different times in Iris’s life.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sex and Several Cities

Film: A Touch of Class
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

I’m not really sure what I expected with A Touch of Class, but I didn’t expect a film that looked this dated. To suggest that this was considered one of the best films of 1973, enough that it was nominated for Best Picture, is surprising to me, because there’s very little here that translates to an audience 40 or so years removed. Glenda Jackson won the Oscar for her performance, and I like her performance here, but she is just about the only thing about this film that I thought was worthwhile.

This is a simple story. Vickie Allessio (Jackson) is a divorcee with two kids living in London. Steve Blackburn (George Segal) is married and has two kids and also lives in London despite being an American. The two meet in a park, then meet again the next day when sharing a cab in a rainstorm. Steve is obviously interested in Vickie and she hasn’t had a relationship for a while and admits that she could use some good non-committal sex, but not in the cheap hotel he has lined up for them. Instead, she expects a weekend away, which he agrees to since he claims to have never been unfaithful to his wife in the same city.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

West Point

Film: Flirtation Walk
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

There was a time in the past, specifically between the two World Wars, when Hollywood had a strange relationship with the U.S. military. It seemed that the military would assist with virtually any movie no matter how silly the premise provided that the military be shown in a positive light. It’s the only explanation for a film like Flirtation Walk. This is a film with a completely ridiculous premise and I can’t but think that it was made with some cooperation on the part of the U.S. Army.

Richard Palmer Grant Dorcy (Dick Powell) is a private in the army. He’s stationed in the Hawaiian Islands where he has a playfully argumentative relationship with “Scrapper” Thornhill (Pat O’Brien), his sergeant. Dick, who goes by the nickname “Canary” because of his penchant for singing (yep, it’s one of those), hates taking orders from Scrapper. Scrapper’s opinion is that Dick should try to become an officer and make something of himself, a future that Dick absolutely can’t see for himself.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Your Face Picks Movies (Nolahn): The Time Machine (1960)

Film: The Time Machine (1960)
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

This is the second in a series of monthly reviews suggested by the guys at Your Face. This is Nolahn’s first pick.

Once upon a time when the world was new and my age could be counted on my fingers, I saw a part of The Time Machine, one of the films Nolahn has challenged me to watch. It might feel like a cheat, since I know I’ve seen at least part of this, but I’m also fairly sure I never saw the whole thing. I’d remember the Morlocks if nothing else and I don’t remember them much at all. But I’ve definitely seen a part of it, but it was also at a time when I was still struggling with learning to make a cursive capital S and the president was either Ford or Carter. When it’s been multiple decades, I think it’s fair to call this a first watch.

The Time Machine is the first big-screen adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells story of the same name. A scientist named H. George Wells (Rod Taylor) has invited some friends over for dinner, but he’s late. The men are frustrated and hungry, but allowed to sit at the table when Wells bursts into the room, dirty, clothing torn, and raving like a madman. Naturally, the men are curious, so Wells goes into his tale about where he has been and the things he has seen.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Behind Closed Doors

Film: Peyton Place
Format: Movies! Channel on rockin’ flatscreen.

If Peyton Place didn’t exist, I think it’s possible that David Lynch may not exist. Many of Lynch’s best films, particularly Blue Velvet but all of them to some extent, touch on some of the same themes. Peyton Place is objectively a lot more about sex and a lot less about weirdness and insanity than Lynch’s work. Both films are about hidden things, though, about the veneer of respectability the lives over the private lives of everyone. Early films like Theodora Goes Wild play with this idea, but Peyton Place takes it seriously. The people we spend our time with spend most of their time trying to hide the reality of their lives from everyone else in town.

Now, Peyton Place was made in 1957, which means that a lot of what is whispered about in the town is innuendo and rumor. In fact, one of the more interesting aspects of the film is that it’s the town’s youth who are constantly suspected of breaking various moral codes when they aren’t and the adults who pretend they aren’t who are. The vintage of the film also means that we won’t be having any nudity despite the high sex content of the conversation. We are still conforming to the Hays Code, after all.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

She Blinded Me with Science

Film: Madame Curie
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

Don’t let the fact that I have degrees in English literature and linguistics color your opinion on what I’m about to say: I am a science geek. The vast majority of my reading for pleasure is connected to science in one way or another. I admit that I’m not much more than a dilettante when it comes to actual science, but I love it. Stories about science, about its importance and its benefits, are always interesting to me. So when Turner Classic ran Madame Curie, a film that I’ve had some difficulty tracking down, I was pretty interested.

The main point of Madame Curie as a film is to humanize our two main characters, Pierre (Walter Pidgeon) and Marie Curie (Greer Garson). We start with Marie’s days in college at the Sorbonne. She is young, talented, and dirt poor, and attracts the attention of one of her professors when she faints in class. The professor (Albert Bassermann) takes interest in Marie and offers her a position doing research on a particular question. Short on laboratory space, the professor convinces Pierre Curie to accept her into his lab, where she becomes a person of intense fascination to Curie’s lab assistant, David (Robert Walker).

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Don't Lose Your Head

Film: Anne of the Thousand Days
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

I’ve discovered a particular fascination with the person of Richard Burton. He is quite naturally all over my Oscar lists through a couple of decades, so I come across him often. Burton is considered one of the great actors of his generation but he was also a massive ham. There isn’t a moment of him being on screen when he doesn’t seem to make a meal of chewing the scenery. He does this in roles where he plays an average person. Give him a larger than life role, like a king, and get out of his way. That’s where we’re going with Anne of the Thousand Days--Burton stomping around as a king.

Anne of the Thousand Days is, in fact, the story behind the romance between Henry VIII (Richard Burton) and Anne Boleyn (Genevieve Bujold). As tends to be the case when dealing with Henry, we start with his marriage to Catherine of Aragon (Irene Papas), an unpleasant union that resulted in the birth of Mary (Nicola Pagett) and a few sons born dead. Henry, stereotypically horny and desperate for a male heir sets his sights on Anne Boleyn, who happens to be the sister of a woman bearing Henry’s illegitimate child. The wrench in the works is that Anne is engaged to another man, a match approved of by Thomas Wolsey (Anthony Quayle). There’s also the question of getting Henry’s marriage to Catherine annulled, something strongly endorsed by Thomas Cromwell (John Colicos) and opposed by pretty much everyone else.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Foregone Conclusion

Film: Crossfire
Format: Streaming video from TCM Watch on laptop.

This might not be entirely accurate, but in a lot of ways, I think Crossfire is the oddest film I’ve seen in a long time. This is a film that is very much a film noir at its heart, but it ends on something like an up note. We know mid-way through the film exactly who the real bad guy is, and it’s the person we suspect in the first fifteen minutes. Once we know that, the second half of the film is more or less us watching the characters come to the conclusion we’ve reached, and the last 20 minutes or so are just seeing a set trap come together. And yet, for all of these oddities and (at least in my opinion) flaws in the script, Crossfire actually works pretty well.

It’s also, oddly enough, the second of the four Best Picture nominees from 1947 I’ve seen so far that deals overtly with anti-Semitism. Gentleman’s Agreement is all about anti-Semitism as well, although it’s of a much more genteel, “not in our club, dear” variety. Crossfire, as befits a film noir, is about murder and hatred. Curious that most of our characters are in the military, and one of them turns out to be the killer.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cold Shoulder

Film: Ice Age
Format: DVD from Rockford Public Library on laptop.

I seem to ignore animated films on my Oscar list. I think the reason is that there are so comparatively few of them that I feel like the other categories are simply more pressing. Another part of it is that either my kids or I own a bunch of them, which makes difficult to find films more important concerns. I’ve decided that I should try to put them into the rotation more, though. It’s the category of film that I’ve ignored the most in general, and I should rectify that. With that in mind, I watched Ice Age, a nominee from 2002, the first year this category had a full slate of five nominees.

Ice Age is actually two stories, the main story and the tale of a saber-toothed squirrel named Scrat (“voiced” by director Chris Wedge). Scrat shows up in the film’s opening and at random times throughout the film, always as a comedic element. Scrat’s entire story is his attempting to hide an acorn that’s roughly the size of his head. Throughout the film, whenever Scrat appears, he attempts to hide the nut and has something terrible happen to him that prevents him from doing so.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Picks from Chip: Much Ado About Nothing

Film: Much Ado About Nothing
Format: Streaming video from NetFlix on rockin’ flatscreen.

This is the second in a series of twelve films suggested by Chip Lary at Tips from Chip.

I’m guessing it’s fun to be Joss Whedon. Sure, the Avengers stuff is all fun and everything, but there’s a certain freedom he appears to have in choosing some projects. Much Ado About Nothing, a modernized version of Shakespeare’s play in all but language, appears to have been made with a bunch of alums from other Whedon projects. “Hey, gang! Let’s do Shakespeare!” As fitting Whedon’s sensibilities, this is one of Billy the Shake’s comedies. That does make me want to see him tackle something like MacBeth, though.

I should probably mention that modern retellings of Shakespeare don’t always work for me. Kept in the classic style, I buy the language. Keep the language the same but modernize everything else, and there’s a part of my brain that objects. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t happen here, at least for the first chunk of the film. I had trouble accepting a modern setting with the style of speech. Eventually it worked for me, though, but it was a struggle for me for the first 20 minutes.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Wood You?

Film: Knock on Wood
Format: DVD from Rockford Public Library on laptop.

I’ve heard of Danny Kaye, but aside from White Christmas, I’m not sure I’ve seen a single one of his movies before watching Knock on Wood. I more or less knew what to expect, though. Unlike many of the song and dance types of the era, Kaye was pretty much a straight comedic actor specializing in light comedy with a few songs tossed in. That’s certainly what we’re getting with Knock on Wood, which manages to spoof the spy genre, more or less prank the film Dead of Night, and still toss in a couple of songs and a romance. And, as befits a comedy, the goal is to leave with a smile on the collective face of the audience.

American ventriloquist Jerry Morgan (Danny Kaye) has a successful act but a staggeringly unsuccessful love life. Every time he gets serious about a woman, his alter egos Clarence and Terrence open their mouths and say terrible things about his latest flame, ending the romance immediately, and Jerry tends to then take out his rage on his dummies. His manager Marty (David Burns) is convinced that the best thing for him is to meet with a Swiss psychiatrist, so off they go.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Shake Your Booty

Film: Wag the Dog
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

In the movie Angel Heart, Robert De Niro essentially plays Satan. He’s also played a laundry list of thugs, hitmen, and mob bosses. I bring that up, because it’s entirely possible that he has never played a darker character than he does in Wag the Dog. That this film is a comedy only enhances De Niro’s genial evil in it. If that sounds like I’m complaining, I apologize. The fact that De Niro’s character is so likable and amiable makes it easy to ignore the fact that he is also terrifying. Once it’s realized exactly how scary he is, the fact that he seems so decent only makes him more evil.

Wag the Dog is a political drama/comedy that is also one of those great examples of life imitating art. In the film, the sitting president is implicated in a sex scandal a couple of weeks before his potential re-election. This causes his team to go into overdrive to create a different news story to take the media feeding frenzy off the sex scandal. Wag the Dog was well into production when the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal broke, and when that scandal was followed in short order by the bombing of a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory, well, it was hard to prevent comparisons.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Kung Fu Grip Not Included

Film: The Story of G.I. Joe
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

There was a time in the American past when being a journalist meant something. Reporters could legitimately be heroes to people, with men like Edward R. Murrow being top of the list. Another name to put there is Ernie Pyle, who was in many ways the first embedded reporter in military history. Pyle didn’t report on the war; he lived the war alongside the men who fought it, and won the Pulitzer in 1944 for his real front lines description of the war and, most especially, of the men who fought it. The Story of G.I. Joe, sometimes referred to as Ernie Pyle’s Story of G.I. Joe is an amalgam of Pyle’s experiences. The characters have been blended and changed and all of the names are different, but the experience is the same.

It’s worth noting that Pyle himself didn’t live through the war, or even long enough to see the final version of this film. Pyle was killed on Okinawa along with a number of the extras who worked on this film. To provide a sense of realism, actual soldiers were used in this film, many of whom went back to the front when the filming was done, and some of whom never left Okinawa alive. If evidence was needed that Pyle was the real deal, know that he wasn’t killed in a plane crash or a Jeep accident—the man was caught in a machine gun burst on the front lines next to combat troops.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Killing Jar

Film: The Collector
Format: DVD from NetFlix on various players.

When I put together the post on Best Picture for 1965, I said that the one film I thought might eventually make the list for me as something I’d nominate was The Collector. Having seen it now, I wish I’d waited on Best Picture for that year, because this would absolutely make my list of top movies for that year, particularly in a year as weak on nominations as 1965. I’m not sure I’d pick it over The Battle of Algiers or The Shop on Main Street, but it may well be the best English language film of its year. I suspected that I’d like it. What I didn’t expect was a film this emotionally upsetting and, frankly, good. Why do films like this get lost in history? This is a film that (no joke) should be spoken of in the same sentence as Psycho and Peeping Tom.

As with plenty of thrillers, the high concept here is devilishly simple. A timid, socially awkward butterfly collector named Freddie Clegg (an almost disturbingly youthful Terence Stamp) wins a great deal of money in a football (soccer for those of us on the left of the Atlantic) pool. This allows him to leave his dead end job as a bank clerk and buy an old country house. Once there, he fixes up a basement apartment and, with the chloroform he uses to kill his butterflies, he kidnaps an art student named Miranda Grey (Samantha Eggar). She is someone he’s pined for from afar his whole life, and now, much like his butterflies, he has collected her.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Off the Rails

Film: Snowpiercer
Format: Streaming video from NetFlix on laptop.

I’m not usually one for predictions, but I think it’s entirely possible that Snowpiercer might be included in the next version of the 1001 Movies. Why? Well, based on the number of people who pee themselves over it, the number of top-10 lists for 2014 it made, it’s entirely possible. Additionally, the listkeepers sometimes attempt to demonstrate their street cred, such as it is. Witness the appearance of a film like The Cabin in the Woods a couple of years ago. Based on that, I think Snowpiercer has an even chance of being ensconced in the coming year.

So here’s where I get to piss people off: Snowpiercer, while filled with interesting action, good fight scenes, and a unique dystopia, is ultimately a nonsensical and kind of stupid movie. No, scratch that; Snowpiercer is all kinds of stupid. Not a bit of this film makes any sense at all. Once the film gets going and the action actually starts, the only thing holding it together at all is however much suspension of disbelief the audience is willing to give it. I tried. I really tried to make it work for me, and it simply doesn’t, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why everyone seems to be losing their collective shit over a film that appears to have a plot written by either a video game designer (it would make a pretty cool video game) or an imaginative 12-year-old without much knowledge of story structure and a desire for fight scenes.

Monday, February 2, 2015

My Kingdom for a Horse

Film: Richard III
Format: Streaming video from Hulu+ on The Nook.

Is it that Laurence Olivier is a pimp or is it just that he picks big pimpin’ roles? For me, his pimptastic performance in Wuthering Heights was the best part of that film. I figured it was just the character. Now I see Richard III, the adaptation of Shakespeare’s play of the same name and I’ll be damned if he’s not a stone cold pimp in this, too. Again, I’m sure it’s the role, but a lot of it is the way that Olivier plays it.

The role of Richard III is one of the great male roles in the history of the theater, let alone in the works of Shakespeare. If you’re going to do Richard III as accurately as possible in the mid-1950s, who better to do it than Laurence Olivier, the greatest actor and Shakespearean of his generation? It could be argued without much trouble that this is Olivier’s best film performance, again, exactly what you want from the greatest actor of his age.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Well, Australia Was Populated by Criminals...

Film: Breaker Morant
Format: Streaming video from Hulu+ on The Nook.

There’s something about a courtroom that screams drama. That’s natural, of course—in a good trial, someone’s life is on the line. That’s even more the case when it’s a court-martial and the death penalty is on the table. With Breaker Morant, we get all of that, along with one of the great performances in the career of Edward Woodward. As a bonus, we get a history lesson, since this film takes place during the Boer War, which isn’t one that gets a lot of play, at least in American classes on history.

The plot is straightforward enough. Three officers from the Australian Bushveldt Carbineers are court-martialed for the alleged murder of a Boer POW, a massacre of six additional prisoners, and finally the murder of a German missionary. The three lieutenants, Harry “Breaker” Morant (Edward Woodward), Peter Handcock (Bryan Brown), and George Witton (Lewis Fitz-Gerald) are placed on trial. They are assigned Major J.F. Thomas (Jack Thompson) as counsel. Thomas is a lawyer, specialized more in wills and probate and has no trial experience. He’s also given only a single day to prepare his defense while the prosecution has had six weeks.