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

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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.

US Title: Jungle Fighters

production details
UK | 110 minutes | 1961

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

cast
David McCallum as Pvt. Sammy Whitaker
Richard Todd as Sgt. ‘Mitch’ Mitchem
Richard Harris as Cpl. Johnstone
Laurence Harvey as Pvt. ‘Bammo’ Bamforth