In war, there’s so much more in play then just the result of the conflict…
Titled Jungle Fighters in the US and Canada; The Long, The Short & The Tall (based on the play of the same name) just might be the best war movie that you’ve never heard of it as it boils down the psychological trauma of not only the conflict itself but the realization that you just might not make it back.
During the Japanese invasion of Burma in 1942, a troop of British soilders on a jungle mission lose radio contact with their base and then clash over how to proceed. When a Japanese scout wanders into their camp and they take him prisoner, tensions increase further as the soldiers become so concerned with arguing out their own destinies, that the enemy has to take second place.
With a loaded cast, The Long, The Short & The Tall is really about the horrors of war when you get out of the moment looking forward to getting home, instead of existing in the moment because it’s those moments that keep you alive.
Veteran director Leslie Norman in concert with cinematographer Erwin Hiller craft a film that simply looks far better than it should, mostly indoors with a bunch of men simply looking to get home until it all slowly unravels. We meet the various personalities and the predisposition the war at hand and every character really has the chance to establish who they are as a human being in the thick of all this. We’re engaged from minute one and Norman stays out of the actors way as they really embrace the adapted play nature of it all and work well in the confines of this hut that they’re waiting on orders from.
When the radio’s is out, and the Japanese scout enters the mix all these men get to run through the gamut of things you’d expect in a story of this nature and while they obviously didn’t know it at the time, this film boasts and ensemble cast that now looking on it some 59 years later is a Hall of Fame of British actors.
Laurence Harvey takes the lead in all this as Private Bamforth the wise cracking but sage young man who copes with it all playfully butting heads with his superiors and singing songs with the rest of the platoon is the emotional core of this group. He knows exactly what he’s doing and where he is but is very aware to not lose his humanity in the midst of all this. The iconic Richard Harris is the other side of this coin as the hardnosed Corporal Johnstone who isn’t afraid to cut a swath of violence through this war in order to get home. Richard Todd balances them out as their commanding officer while a young John Mellion is barely recognizable next to a baby faced David McCallum (who you’d know from Man From U.N.C.L.E. or NCIS) who round out the ensemble. This is such a powerhouse of psychological warfare between all these men that you’ll never even notice that a round isn’t fired until the third act of the film.
Sadly there are no special features on this disc, but I suspect that this film probably hasn’t looked this good since its initial release.
If you like your war films to have some insight and thought to them, then get yourself a copy of The Long, The Short & The Tall ASAP…you won’t regret it.
- Release Date: 5/19/2020