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King and Country

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

King and Country
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoseph Losey
Written byEvan Jones (screenplay)
based on the play Hamp (1964) by John Wilson and the novel Return to the Wood (1955) by James Lansdale Hodson
Produced byJoseph Losey
Norman Priggen
StarringDirk Bogarde
Tom Courtenay
Leo McKern
Barry Foster
CinematographyDenys Coop
Edited byReginald Mills
Music byLarry Adler
BHE Films (UK)
Landau/Unger (US)
Distributed byWarner-Pathé (UK)
Allied Artists (US)
Release date
September 1964, Venice Film Festival
Running time
88 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom

King and Country (stylised as King & Country) is a 1964 British war film directed by Joseph Losey, shot in black and white, and starring Dirk Bogarde and Tom Courtenay.[2] The film was adapted for the screen by British screenwriter Evan Jones based on the play Hamp by John Wilson[3] and a 1955 novel by James Lansdale Hodson.[4]


During the First World War in 1917, in the British trenches at Passchendaele, an army private, Arthur Hamp (Tom Courtenay) is accused of desertion. He is to be defended at his trial by Captain Hargreaves (Dirk Bogarde). Hamp had been a volunteer at the outbreak of the war and was the sole survivor of his company, but then decided to "go for a walk"; he had contemplated walking to his home in London but after more than 24 hours on the road, he is picked up by the Military Police and sent back to his unit to face court-martial for desertion.

Hargreaves is initially impatient with the simple-minded Hamp, but comes to identify with his plight. Following testimony from an unsympathetic doctor (Leo McKern) (whose solution to all ailments is to prescribe laxatives), Hargreaves is unable to persuade the court to consider the possibility that Hamp may have been suffering from shell shock. He is found guilty, but the court's recommendation for mercy is overruled by higher command, who wish to make an example of Hamp to bolster morale in his division. He is shot by firing squad, but as he is not killed outright Hargreaves has to finish him off with a revolver. His family are informed that he has been killed in action.



The novel had been filmed for Australian TV in 1962 as The Case of Private Hamp.


The film was re-released by American International Pictures (AIP) in 1966 and developed a cult following. However in 1973 Losey said that records had the film recording a loss.[1]

The New York Times called it "an impressive achievement," noting "As usual, Mr. Losey has drawn the best from his actors," and concluding that "Some of its scenes are so strong they shock. Those who can take it will find it a shattering experience."[5]


Tom Courtenay received the award for the Best Actor for his role as Hamp at the 1964 Venice Film Festival, where the film was also nominated for the Golden Lion.[6] The film was nominated for four 1965 BAFTA awards, including Best Film.[7]


  1. ^ a b Losey on 'broken promises' Barker, Dennis. The Guardian 1 Aug 1973: 6.
  2. ^ "King & Country (1964)". BFI.
  3. ^ "Hamp | Samuel French".
  4. ^ Gifford, Denis (1 April 2016). British Film Catalogue: Two Volume Set - The Fiction Film/The Non-Fiction Film. Routledge. ISBN 9781317740636 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Archer, Eugene (24 September 1964). "Attack on War Seen at Philharmonic Hall:Tom Courtenay Excels in Role of Private" – via
  6. ^ "King and Country **** (1964, Dirk Bogarde, Tom Courtenay, Leo McKern, Barry Foster) – Classic Movie Review 2532". 28 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Film in 1965 | BAFTA Awards".

External links

See also

This page was last edited on 26 April 2022, at 10:36
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