February 24, 2017


Long Day’s Dying – 1968 | 95 mins | Drama, War | Colour

Plot Synopsis

Long Day's Dying

Peter Collinson‘s minimalist anti-war drama adapted from Alan White’s first-rate novel charts a day in the life of three British paratroopers caught behind enemy lines with a German PoW. Each actor brings a different character to their soldier and the unfolding events; David Hemmings the pacifist, Tom Bell the easy-going professional soldier and Tom Beckley the cold-blooded squaddie on the look out for military souvenirs. The documentary feel maybe owes something to Peter Watkins earlier semi-documentary work and the combat scenes are captivatingly carried out with stream-of-consciousness monologues to convey the soldierís thoughts. On first viewing the The Long Day’s Dying may appear slow-paced and uneventful but Collinsonís unorthodox approach is engrossing if somewhat heavy handed in the delivery of its message. RSM John Williams DCM of the Parachute Regiment acted as technical advisor to bring the picture a degree of authenticity.

Set during WWII, three British paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines are lost in the European countryside; holed up in a in a burned-out farmhouse they await their sergeant’s arrival. John (David Hemmings) is a pacifist, Tom Cooper (Tom Bell) is an experienced professional soldier, and Cliff (Tony Beckley) is a war-loving ruthless sadist. The trio are captured by German officer Helmut (Alan Dobie), who is in turn jumped by the three Paraís and taken prisoner. Before trekking their way back to Allied HQ they decide to draws straws on whether to return with the German prisoner or execute him before setting off; with a moments inspiration Helmut tricks them into allowing him to live.

Production Team

Peter Collinson: Director
Michael Knight: Art Direction
Ernest Day: Cinematography
Brian Probyn: Cinematography
John Trumper: Editing
Bob Lawrance: Makeup Department
Betty Glasow: Makeup Department
Harry Fine: Producer
Disley Jones: Production Design
Charles Woods: Script
Laurie Clarkson: Sound Department
Gerry Humphreys: Sound Department
Stephen Warwick: Sound Department


David Hemmings: John
Tony Beckley: Cliff
Tom Bell: Tom Cooper
Alan Dobie: Helmut

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