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Tunes of Glory (The Criterion Collection)

4.7 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In Ronald Neame's Tunes of Glory, the incomparable Alec Guinness inhabits the role of Jock Sinclair-a whiskey drinking, up-by-the-bootstraps commanding officer of a peacetime Scottish battalion. When Basil Barrow (John Mills)-an educated, by-the-book scion of a traditionally military family-enters the scene as Sinclair's replacement, the two men become locked in a fierce battle for control of the battalion and the hearts and minds of its men. Based on the novel by James Kennaway and featuring flawless performances by Guinness and Mills, Tunes of Glory uses the rigidly stratified hierarchy of military life as a jumping off point to examine the institutional contradictions and class divisions of English society, resulting in an unexpectedly moving drama. The DVD features new interviews with Ronald Neame and John Mills, the theatrical trailer, and more.


Venerable British actors Alec Guinness and John Mills give two of their finest performances in Tunes of Glory, a compelling, emotionally charged study of leadership in a peacetime Scottish battalion. In one of his most memorable roles, Guinness plays Jock Sinclair, the brash, red-haired colonel who temporarily commands his regiment of loyal, devoted soldiers. He's quick with a drink and hearty tales of military bravado, placing him in fun-loving contrast to his replacement, Col. Barrow (Mills), a hot-tempered martinet whose by-the-book style couldn't be more different, or less likable, than Sinclair's. In adapting his own novel for director Ronald Neame, James Kennaway keenly establishes the psychological opposition of these two stubborn men, demonstrating the equal merit of their military careers while exploring class distinctions and, ultimately, the inevitable tragedy of their failure to reach a mutual understanding. Ironically, Guinness was originally offered Mills's role, but suggested a switch to avoid comparison to his role in The Bridge on the River Kwai. It was an inspired decision, allowing each actor to shine in a timeless film that speaks volumes about military men and the winning (or losing) of hearts and minds. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • New transfer with restored image and sound
  • New video interview with director Ronald Neame
  • Exclusive new audio interview with actor Sir John Mills
  • BBC interview with Sir Alec Guinness
  • New essay by acclaimed film critic and historian Robert Murphy

Product Details

  • Actors: Alec Guinness, John Mills, Susannah York, Dennis Price, Kay Walsh
  • Directors: Ronald Neame
  • Writers: James Kennaway
  • Producers: Albert Fennell, Colin Lesslie
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: February 17, 2004
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00014K5YG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,709 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tunes of Glory (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
A clash of wills and personalities between two men, one a psychologically scarred idealist, the other driven by ego and his own needs to the point of cruelty, is examined in the peacetime military drama, “Tunes of Glory,” directed by Ronald Neame and starring Alec Guinness and John Mills. Major Jock Sinclair (Guinness) is the acting Colonel of a Scottish regiment, but as the story begins he has been notified that he has been passed over for promotion and his replacement, Lieutenant Colonel Basil Barrow (Mills) is en route to take command. Sinclair is a soldier’s soldier, a man’s man loved and respected (with some qualifications) by his men. He has clawed his way up through the ranks, was once a piper (he would’ve been happy as a Pipe Major, in fact, but Hitler-- as he says at one point-- “Changed all that”), and feels strongly that he should have been made Colonel of the regiment. Barrow, on the other hand, is an aristocrat and a third generation officer of this particular regiment. He suffers, however, from his experience in a prisoner-of-war camp, and has never fully recovered, the impact of which is succinctly expressed when he tells his Captain that he never really came back. From the beginning, it’s an almost impossible situation, and from the moment Barrows arrives the atmosphere is thick with tension as he and Sinclair square off in a contest from which it is readily evident that neither will emerge unscathed in one way or another .Read more ›
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This is a great movie. The time: immediately following the Second World War. The place: Scotland, specifically the Scotts Highland Regiment. The Regiment has returned from hard combat in North Africa and Europe, and once again is esconced in its barracks in the Scottish Highlands--the place in which it has been headquartered for over three hundred years. The Acting Commanding Officer is Col. Jock Sinclair (Alec Guiness), a rough, uneducated man from the lower classes who worked his way up to Colonel from the ranks. Sinclair got his promotion in the desert, fighting Rommel, and one senses that these experiences have created strong bonds of friendship between Sinclair and certain other officers in the battalion. Now higher headquarters has assigned a new Commanding Officer to the battalion--Col. Basil Barrow, a university-educated man from the upper classes who comes from a long line of officers who served with, and indeed commanded, the battalion. But Barrow, for all that, is viewed as an outsider and newcomer--while the other officers forged friendships in the war, fighting the Germans, Barrow was in the Pacific theater. Sinclair is relegated to second-in-command. Sinclair is deeply resentful of Barrow, and immediately gets off on the wrong foot with his new commander, unintentionally belittling Barrow's war service, most of which involved the horrors of being a POW tortured by the Japanese. In fact, Colonel Barrow is deeply scarred by his wartime experience, and has lost perspective in dealing with his officers. He is a martinet, and appears to forget that leadership involves earning the respect of one's subordinates--it is not simply bestowed from on-high. Although both men love the Regiment above all else, this film is about an implacable conflict between Sinclair and Barrow.Read more ›
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"Tunes of Glory" is everything you might want from this type of movie. Full of rough-hewn Scots drinking life with the same enthusiasm as they drink their whisky, "Tunes of Glory" plays wistfully with the Scottish stereotypes of good natured, dancing and singing soldiers of a highland regiment. There are tunes a'plenty, and twirling kilts and bagpipes as well. A story of post-war peacetime soldiers, one cannot call it a war movie or but it is military in flavor,with pipes and drum corp assembled.

In addition to the Scottish pageantry is a surprisingly deep storyline and some of Sir Alec Guinness's and Sir John Mills's best acting, which is saying a lot about those two giants of film. Both play against type, with Guinness's surprising turn as red-haired Jock Sinclair, the course and gutter-born Major who seeks to be Battalion Commander, and Mill's emotionally unstable yet straight-laced Battalion Commander Basil Barrow, the very opposite of the spirited garrison who struggles to keep control. Both characters are likeable, yet deeply flawed, and it is a question as to which will overcome their defects and rise.

The looseness and fun-loving background of the regiment is a fine background for the tense struggle of Sinclair and Barrow. Supporting characters, such as the slippery Charlie Scott, and Sinclair's daughter Morag and her beau the handsome piper Ian Fraser, provide counter balance and some much-needed affection in this heroless film.

The Criterion Collection DVD is of course excellent, with a few insightful interviews with Sir Alec Guinness, Sir John Mills and director Ronald Neame. There is also a nice essay by Robert Murphy, which adds to the appreciation of the film.
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