Actors and Soldiers

Reading a few of the threads on here reminded me of my long standing contention, aired loudly and with much finger pointing in pubs the length and breadth of the Empire, that actors simply can not look like regular British soldiers. No matter what they're wearing, carrying, doing or saying in films and on TV it always seems just, well, wrong.

Can anyone provide me with examples that disprove this? Preferably post WW2 stuff. Discuss. :wink:
What about, Windsor Davies in 'IT AIN'T HALF HOT MUM' there was a CSM
in my BN a few years ago who was just the same.
Not an Army film but for the purpose of the thread;

An Ungentlemanly Act (mentioned elsewhere on ARRSE) has some actors who researched and played their roles as Royal Marines well.

Special mention to the luvvies playing the Detachment Sergeant Major and Corporal Armour. An RM oppo who knew Lou Armour said the actor got him spot on. The untrained extras could be spotted by the ski jump berets.

This scene has been quoted before but worth reprising.

Waiting for the poo to hit the air-conditioning, Times journo Simon Winchester wanders into the briefing room.

DSM calls to him cordially: “You Sir!”
Winchester perks up at such deference. “Yes”
DSM: "fcuk off".
Winchester goes out faster than he came in.



Book Reviewer
Nigel Green.

He was C/Sgt Bourne in Zulu (1964)
David Niven. pre-war Reg offr in the HLI, joined up again in WW2 and served in GHQ Liaison Regiment aka Phantom. I agree that over the years since WW2 the majority of actors playing military roles have become less and less convincing.
Dog Soldiers, pretty naf horror spoof but carries over the humour of the humble brit squaddie well.

Also classic film "A Bridge too far".
Most realistic war film I ever saw "The Long Day's Dying" but you'll probably never see it because someone has stopped its re-distribution.
In making "A Bridge too far" they took forty actors and put them through a forty day training package. Results speak for themself.

Soldier, soldier and Redcap however just don't do it despite the obvious efforts to try and get it right. I suspect it has a lot to do with the sincerity of the story lines!!
Possibly because it's as harrowing a 'War film' as you'll see. Made in the 60's I think , and featured David Hemmings in another 'Anti-establishment hero in harrowing film where people don't die particularly nicely' (Charge of the Light Brigade et al)

I think the scene amongst others that stops it getting another airing, is stabbing the German Guard in the eye/neck? with the meat skewer secreted in his Denison .
+Up until the mid-late 60's, a number of the actors had military experience, if only basdic undervtheir belts.. Brits with national service,at very least...os they all had a ' taste' of the conditions/rituals/etc..there is a long list of american performers who had substantial military service..Jimmy Stewart comes to mind..and many of the best Brit actors of the day..[ John Wayne, the quintessential American War guy.. didn't serve though ]..

After the sixties, new crop were [ and after vietNam ] mostly anti-war types and did not have much to do with mil bring them ' up to snuff ' , even for decidely' anti-war flicks.. think Hamburger Hill, 82Charlie Mopic, Platoon, etc.. the actors had to be sent to ' boot camps' usually under the tutelage of retired Sgts.. etc. to give them a tasdte [ Tigertland and Thin Red L:ine used this technique extensively.. ] and gave rise to technical consultants like Cpt. Dye and Lee ermy..they even ended up playing roles on screen simply because they were so ' authentic' and convincing..

There is a quite a tidy business out there in consulting in military aspects for various military periods [ two ' buddies' of mine worked on Pirates of the caribbean and Master and Commander ].. though, in this some ' Walts' slip through, too..[ ooh, the story... ]

Still, in a lot of cases the work of the consultant is ignored in the film process and its not ' dramtic/cinematic ' enough..
what can you do??
The lead characters out of Warriors (BBC Films 1999) were all pretty good (Lieutenant Loughrey and Feeley and Private James and Skeet) . Perhaps a little old for the jobs that they were actually supposed to be doing, i.e. Platoon Commanders, Warrior Gunners and drivers. Platoon Sergeant was pretty good aswell (Sgt Sochanik).

If I am not much mistaken, one of the platoon commanders also played Captain Richard Winters in Band of Brothers and the the other (this one I am not so sure about) played Hornblower.

Actually all in all a very good drama, with good technical knowledge and actors that had actually researched their roles IMHO.
What made Warriors stand out was the extras. All the kit, vehicles and most of the blokes came from 2RGJ. So the lead characters had to come up to scratch or they would have looked really out of place.
i know that nooky nayokis has got an equity card now, thus qualifying him as an actor, he is wooden though, i think he'll need a tin of ronseal.

Similar threads

Latest Threads