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Carrington, V.C. (1954, David Niven, Margaret Leighton)



Anthony Asquith’s vivid and subtle film casts David Niven in the role of the eponymous Carrington, desperate for money owed him by the Army and badgered by his neurotic wife Margaret Leighton. He warns his commanding officer Allan Cuthbertson that he intends to take part of it from the battery safe in order to ‘air his grievance’. Cuthbertson orders the safe to be opened while Niven is away, against his orders. Learning of this, WRAC captain Noelle Middleton goes to Niven’s quarters to warn him. Niven is charged with misappropriating army funds, being absent without leave and improperly entertaining a WRAC in his room. Niven defends himself at the ensuing court martial but, for reasons of their own, Cuthbertson and Leighton both deny their prior knowledge that Niven intended to take money from the safe…

Apart from a minor alteration to the ending, the film is a direct and effective adaptation of the play and, as Monthly Film Bulletin noted; ‘the concentrated action of a court process again proves to be a formula as successful for a film as for a play’ and wrote of ‘a number of acting performances whose excellence must be attributed to Anthony Asquith’s known facility for handling his players… Niven’s Carrington is an unexpectedly rounded character; the earnestness of his speeches in his own defence, his bewilderment at his wife’s betrayal are remarkably well done.’ For The Sunday Times ‘the playing is notably good. David Niven… gives his best performance since The Way Ahead … Leighton subtly persuades us to believe in the treacherous, neurotic wife… Middleton manages to charm in the difficult role of the sympathetic other woman.’

US Title: Court Martial

production details
UK | 105 minutes | 1954

Director: Anthony Asquith
Writer: John Hunter, from the play by Dorothy and Campbell Christie

Victor Maddern as Bombardier Owen
David Niven as Major Charles Carrington
Allan Cuthbertson as Lt. Col. Henniker
Margaret Leighton as Valerie Carrington
Noelle Middleton as Captain Alison Graham