Long And The Short And The Tall, The (1960, Laurence Harvey, Richard Todd)

Long And The Short And The Tall

Willis Hall’s play The Long And The Short And The Tall, directed by Barry Norman’s father Leslie, was part of the post-Look Back in Anger flowering at the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square. Originally directed in 1959 by Lindsay Anderson with a cast led by Peter O’Toole, it garnered good reviews and transferred to the West End for a three-month run.

The situation of fighting men pinned down and interacting while resolutely not confronting their fate was already well-worked (not least in R.C.Sherriff’s Journey’s End of three decades earlier) and Hall’s working class types are no more able than Sherriff’s dreamy public school boys.

A seven-strong squad beds down in a dilapidated store-hut in the Malayan jungle. The Japanese invasion of 1942 proceeds around them but, hindered by a broken radio, they cannot guess whether or when to move on. The plot thickens when a lone Japanese soldier happens on the hut. His fate becomes the squad’s second imponderable.

UK / 1960

Director: Leslie Norman
Writer: Wolf Mankowitz, from Willis Hall’s play

Cast: Laurence Harvey, Richard Todd, David McCallum, Richard Harris, Ronald Fraser, John Meillon, John Rees, Kenji Takaki