The Thin Red Line (1998)

Three scouting soldiers look out at the ridge ahead. A cloud moves away, and light hits the grass.

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Richard Dormant | “The Peculiarity of Algernon Newton, Daniel Katz Gallery, London, review” | 2012

Algernon Newton, "Spring Morning Campden Hill"

Algernon Newton, “Spring Morning Campden Hill”

Excerpts from Richard Dormant’s November 2012 review of an Algernon Newton retrospective published in the The Telegraph. Algernon Newton was Robert Newton’s father, a painter.

Juxtapose with Robert Newton’s character, the painter Lukey, in Odd Man Out.


Invalided out of the Army in 1916, divorced and living apart from his children, at a low moment he was reduced to selling his paintings on street corners, so ashamed of his failure that he pretended to be disabled, and wore a mask to disguise his identity. By the time he was 40, he had long been familiar with what the 19th-century critics Jules and Edmond de Goncourt described as “the bohemia that embitters”. […] Read the rest of this entry »

Bosley Crowther | “‘Odd Man Out,’ British Film in Which James Mason Again is the Chief Menace, Has Its Premier at Loew’s Criterion” | 1947

Robert Newton in Odd Man Out (1947)

Robert Newton in Odd Man Out (1947)

April 24, 2007 New York Times review of Odd Man Out.

“Allowance must be made for specious writing in the performance which Robert Newton gives as the wild-eyed and drunken painter.”

P. Jacobs | “An Interesting Experiment Described,” Sight and Sound | 1945

this happy breed

Celia Johnson in This Happy Breed (1944)

G.T.C. Film Group, Sight and Sound, 14:54 (1945: July), p. 59.

P. Jacobs describes the result of his experiment. He took groups of teenage girl cadets to the movies, and discussed with them whether or not they gained anything from the cinema. Note his summary of the girls’ evaluation of This Happy Breed, especially how it relates to war, and Robert Newton. In particular, the girls see the description of the car accident as not properly belonging to the movie. [war and the garden] Additionally, they see the movie as specifically being apart from the many war films produced around the same time.


“I started the Rickmansworth G.T.C. Film Group, because I wanted to find out whether the girls gained anything from going to the cinema, or if they merely went as an escapist pastime without using their sense of judgment. The majority of the 30 cadets all between 15 1/2 and 18 1/2, I discovered visit the cinema once a week, quite a number twice a week, and a few even more frequently. […] The following films were selected: This Happy Breed, Going My Way, Song of Bernadette and Rebecca. […]

The Discussion. General: It was generally considered a very good English film. The acting was marvellous, and the technicolour such that you could look at the film without getting eye-ache.

The voting on the film was as follows:– Outstanding – no votes; Very Good – 21 votes; Good – 4 votes; Fair – 1 vote. Read the rest of this entry »

D.A. Yerrill | “On Charts and Horses,” Sight and Sound | 1947

restoration still from

Stills showing BFI restoration.

Below is an excerpt from D.A. Yerrill writing in 1947 Sight and Sound. He diagnoses a failure of leadership in British cinema, and paraphrases Robert Newton’s call for “bloody revolution” in Yellow Sands. Note that Newton mentions “bloody revolution” in This Happy Breed, and in the editing process the word “bloody” is carefully muted. Note also the discussion of censoring wicked lines.


Of course, the new era of the British cinema has produced films that are good– a lot of them are very good– very good in the tradition they have just created. But the tradition is bad. Read the rest of this entry »

David Lean | Bridge on the River Kwai | 1957

Gun moves along like a camera on a dolly would. Digging graves scene looks like a garden. [Lean and gardening. This Happy Breed.] Flag / fan / hat with flap sequence.

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Soldier steps to attention into waterspout. Principle and the metal box Alec Guinness gets inside. The buzzard / the bird kite. Sessue Hayakawa pretends to work before Guinness enters. In the background, men dive and play in the water.
Alec Guinness Bridge on the River Kwai David Lean

In the foreground, in a floating wooden box, Guinness instructs the officers. Read the rest of this entry »

Allan D. English | “A Predisposition to Cowardice? Aviation Psychology and the Genesis of ‘Lack of Moral Fibre'” | 1995

Sigmund Freud

“Lack of Moral Fibre” (LMF) applied to aircrew in WW2 was controversial, and the threat of being labeled LMF could inspire as much fear as operations against the enemy.

This article traces the origins of LMF from WW1 antecedents, through interwar years, into early WW2.

Bartlett, founding member in 1939 of the Flying Personnel Research Committee (FPRC) was one of Britain’s most distinguished psychologists, w/major contribution = comprehensive use of Freudian theory to explain psychological disorders of war. He stated that temperament, which he described as an “endowment,” was most important factor for individual adaptation to military. Said that “weaklings,” described as mentally unfit personnel,” should “be eliminated” from the services. He emphasized that personal will, based on temperament, allowed soldiers to combat mental illness. Read the rest of this entry »