A lesser-known film from the celebrated partnership of director Joseph Losey and actor Dirk Bogarde, King and Country features a star-making turn from Tom Courtenay, whose remarkable performance earned him Best Actor at the 1964 Venice Film Festival Awards as well as a BAFTA nomination.
Set during WWI, King and Country is a raw, powerful film that explores the effects of war on the human psyche. Based on the John Wilson play Hamp, which itself originated from the 1955 novel Return To The Wood by James Lansdale Hodson, the film marked the third collaboration between Losey and Bogarde, which also included The Sleeping Tiger, The Servant and Accident, also available from the Vintage Classics collection.
During World War I, a young soldier, Hamp (Courtenay, Billy Liar), deserts his post, attempting to escape the relentless guns and mud and walk home. Captain Hargreaves (Bogarde, Victim, The Servant), an aristocratic British Army lawyer, must defend Hamp before the army tribunal, for whom the crime of desertion carries the threat of execution. Initially, Hargreaves approaches Hamp’s case with disdain; however, upon learning that Hamp volunteered for duty on a dare, that he is the sole survivor of his unit and that his wife has been unfaithful in his absence, his efforts on Hamp’s behalf become more impassioned and earnest. In the face of cold army bureaucracy, Hargreaves’s arguments fall on deaf ears as Hamp becomes a victim of morale-boosting on the eve of the troop’s deployment into an impending bloody battle.
Based on the John Wilson play Hamp
For the 2023 restoration of King and Country, STUDIOCANAL went back to the original camera negative which was scanned and restored in 4K to produce a brand new HD master