VCI Entertainment will be bringing both DVD and Blu-ray editions of director Joseph Losey’s 1964 (1965 for domestic theatrical) film, King & Country, to market on July 15.
You cannot mention Tom Courtenay without first thinking of director Tony Richard’s 1962 landmark British “Kitchen Sink” film, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. That film literally sent him to the front of the line in terms of must-have actors, which leads us to Losey’s film adaptation of J.L. Hinton’s novel, “Return To The Wood,” which was subsequently adapted as a play and the film King & Country.
The film is stunningly similar in tone to Kubrick’s earlier film adaptation of writer Humphrey Cobbs’ novel, Paths of Glory (1957, starring Kirk Douglas). In both cases examples must be made if order is to be maintained among the men on the line in the “War To End All Wars.”
Courtenay is Pvt. Arthur Hamp, the lone survivor of a British unit on the Western Front (in this case, Belguim), who is reassigned. One day he just snaps and decides to go home.
Found wandering by MPs, Hamp is arrested, charged with desertion and court-martialed, with a clearly out-of-touch Capt. Hargreaves (played by Dirk Bogarde) placed in charge of his defense.
As the trial progress (and the foregone outcome of it becomes clear), Hargreaves has a change of heart and realizes that Hamp has no business being back at the front after the ordeal that he had been through with his first unit. His honor; his duty, but the trial is a sham.
Nevertheless, examples must be made, Hamp is guilty and, much like Corporal Paris and Privates Ferol and Arnaud from Paths of Glory, he is taken out and shot. But he doesn’t die … what follows is justice run amok.
King & Country remains as powerful today (if very much overlooked) as it was when first screened at the New York Film Festival. The post-war British class issues (a common theme) are clear and the weariness of war are evident … bravo to VCI Entertainment for releasing this gem on both Blu-ray and DVD.
Also on the release schedule during the month of July are the July 1 DVD release of Survival: TV Series Collection Volume One (a ten-episode selection), I Married Joan: Classic TV Collection #3 and Loyola, The Soldier Saint (both available on July 8) and on July 15 look for the DVD release of original Spanish-language version of director René Cardona’s Night of the Bloody Apes, La Horripilante Bestia Humana, starring Norma Lazareno as Lucy, a masked wrestler very much in the spirit of Santo.
Lastly, July 22 brings DVD releases of the 1964 Spaghetti Western Minnesota Clay, starring Cameron Mitchell and filmed in Spain and a ten-episode presentation of The Star and the Story Collection, Volume One (circa 1955 and hosted by Henry Fonda).
To download this week's complete edition of the DVD and Blu-ray Release Report: DVD & Blu-ray Release Report