No question of the quality of this absorbing, though downbeat military pic set in a British barracks in Germany in the mid-1950s.
It has all the gripping fascination of a tussle between two wily, desperate young animals. Taut, icy direction and acting flawlessly tuned to what the writer [John McGrath, from his play Events While Guarding the Bofors Gun]has in mind bring a faultless realism.
Clash is between David Warner as an immature, indecisive one-striper and Nicol Williamson as a half-crazy, embittered Irish rebel, alcoholic and self-tortured. Events sizzle powerfully on the night before Warner is due to go to England for an officers’ course. Williamson is attached to Warner’s guard and, with rebellion and anger rankling inside him, sets out to humiliate the NCO and wreck his prospects of promotion.
Williamson brings out the rebel’s mood brilliantly, his features, speech and behavior veering alarmingly from good-humored cynicism to anger and viciousness. Warner is just as good as the weak young man.