Court Martial Film Details
Overview: A court-martial attempts to find out why, and if, an officer embezzled his unit’s funds.
Tagline: The Most Gripping Entertainment of the Year!
Review: This one is admittedly a bit stiff, but then again, it is British, and a military courtroom drama. It sits firmly in the middle of Niven’s career but seems curiously, and sadly, unknown. I remember it from my childhood, but caught it again today forlornly filling up a gap in a minor TV channels schedule. It deserves better. **The following may contain spoilers** Niven’s character ‘Copper’ Carrington is a brave, correct, and a seemingly successful officer in the British army but has a number of clouds on his horizon. His marriage is weakened by an illicit liaison with a female officer and his fame has made a jealous enemy of his Commanding Officer. To top it all he is in desperate financial straits as his army pay is grossly in arrears, he has simply moved too fast from post to post for it to catch up with him. But when he tries to rectify the situation the army bureaucracy forms part of the problem and not the solution, denying him his due remuneration. His remedy is to remove £100 pounds (some £5000 in today’s money) from the army safe of his battalion `If they won’t pay me, then I’ll pay myself.’ He quotes, and his arrogant stance, although laudable, is his undoing. He is court-martialled, and has but one defence. If he can establish that he took the money openly, and with the full knowledge of his C.O. then the charge that he stole the cash covertly will fall. Complications abound aplenty as he also has to answer further charges relating to his extra-marital liaison. His difficulty is that there are only two witnesses who can help him. One is his C.O. who is both his accuser and the prosecution’s main witness for both sets of charges, and his wife, who is slowly becoming aware of his infidelity during the course of the court martial. Defending himself he rebuts the prosecution case as best as he can, but then in his defence he has to call his wife. What she will say and what the court makes of her testimony are the substance of this film and await the viewer. There are however enough twists and turns in this plot to keep all but the most cynical from seeing it through. If not for the plot then watch for the supporting cast lead by the incomparable Victor Maddern. With the exception of Niven, none of the cast were superstars but they formed the backbone of the British Film and Television industry in the post-war period and have their own place in history. Watch also for a moment of self sacrifice by Niven as his conscience wrestles with the dilemma of what to do with a crucial letter which may establish his innocence, but condemn another in the process. The members of the court too are caught in the quintessential paradox of all courtroom battles. They cannot judge the man, as we the audience are clearly invited to do, but only the evidence before them. Final word goes to the director, Anthony Asquith. Son of Lord Asquith the British Prime Minister during the First Wold War, he would direct many British Classic movies including ‘We dive and Dawn’, ‘Yellow Rolls Royce’ and even scripted Oscar Wilde’s ‘The importance of being Ernest’ A pity this film is not as well known, don’t miss it.
Duration: 105 min
Also known as: Carrington V.C.,Affæren Carrington,Consejo de Guerra,Major Carrington,Fallet Carrington,Court Martial