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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: England mrs_emma_peel's Avatar
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    Conduct Unbecoming (1975) �

    an underrated gem of a period mystery thriller set in the Victorian India of the 1880�s �

    a time of Empire and the Raj, a time of privilege, class, high regimental honour and tradition �

    and a time of a most unspeakable sexual crime and scandal �



    An unspeakable crime among officers and ladies �






    A compelling, clever and complex mystery thriller with excellent performances from Michael York, Susannah York, Trevor Howard, Christopher Plummer, Richard Attenborough, James Donald, James Faulkner, Stacey Keach, Michael Culver and Persis Khambatta.

    The mystery is superbly directed by Michael (The Dambusters) Anderson.



    Screenplay by Robert Enders - adapted from the highly acclaimed hit West End/Broadway stage play by English novelist and playwright Barry England � Produced by Michael Deeley and Barry Spikings � Director of photography: Bob Huke � Editor: John Glen � Music composed by Stanley Myers � Directed by Michael Anderson.



    This highly evocative film is set in the Officer�s' Mess of a British Regiment on the Northwest Frontier of Victorian India in the 1880�s - in the days of Empire and the Raj. The film was partially filmed on location in Islamabad, Pakistan and is complemented by a splendid soundtrack theme by Stanley Myers.



    The plot involves bizarre British regimental traditions of pig-sticking, an erotic scandal of sexual intrigue and violence and a terrific courtroom drama � the sharply scripted screenplay is full of twists and turns � making this a splendid mystery-thriller whodunit.



    Two young British officers arrive to join a prestigious regiment serving in India. Lieutenant Drake (Michael York), from a middle-class background, is extremely eager to make the right impression while the other, Lieutenant Millington (James Faulkner), the son of a General, is apathetic to Army reverence and tradition and keen to get out as soon as he possibly can. Millington�s indifferent attitude soon infuriates his fellow officers.



    A number of very attractive ladies associate with the Regiment, many of them widows of officers who have died on active service. One of the most feted of these is a ravishing beauty in the shapely form of the sensual and flirtatious widow Mrs Marjorie Scarlett (Susannah York) whose husband Captain Scarlett won a posthumous Victoria Cross after fighting on the Northwest Frontier.



    During an evening around and in the Officers� Mess several of the younger officers participate in a singular British regimental ceremonial tradition that involves the pursuit and the sticking of a pig - sticking a sword, bayonet (or spear) into and/or up the bottom of a pig.



    After a social gathering for officers and ladies, Lieutenant Millington becomes infatuated by the sexual teasing of Mrs Scarlett and meets her for secret evening liaison in the garden � where there is an attempted seduction � but later � an extremely distressed and shocked Mrs Scarlett runs into the Officers� Mess � her clothes bloodstained and in a state of disarray, she claims to have been violently sexually assaulted and raped, and identifies Lieutenant Millington as her vicious attacker.

    Millington is immediately ordered to stand trial for his unbecoming conduct � by a secret Court Martial �



    In order to maintain the honour, integrity and reputation of the Regiment � instead of a public trial, the regimental subalterns convene a clandestine, unofficial, secret and private Subalterns Court Martial trial that includes Lieutenant Drake as a very reluctant defence counsel. Drake feels the case is impossible to defend or win.



    Millington has clearly seen this as a quick way back to England, and is apparently not bothered about disgracing himself or the regiment. He does not co-operate with the officer selected to defend him, Lieutenant Drake, and is adamant in his refusal to deny his guilt. The Court Martial, convened in secret by the officers of the regiment to protect reputations, is expected to be a mere formality.



    However, as the court begins to examine the apparently clear-cut, open-and-shut circumstances of the case, a number of elements of doubt begin to creep into the case including the precise nature of the attack. The veracity of some of the evidence becomes controversial and questionable.



    This leads an increasingly intrigued Drake to investigate and research further � he subsequently uncovers a similar sadistic sexual assault attack which had involved �sword pig-sticking� the bottom of the beautiful Mrs Bandanai (Persis Khambatta - Lt IIia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture) which had taken place six months earlier � long before Millington had joined the regiment, he begins to suspect that the culprit was in fact one of the other officers �



    The climax scene set within the darkened shadows of the Officers� Mess is extraordinarily tense and gripping � with an unexpected final twist � revealing the real unhinged perpetrator in this riveting whodunit �



    Additional sources: Wikipedia/IMDb/Answers.com/New York Times Review

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: United States
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    I remember this film. Michael York's very good.

  3. #3
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    I haven't seen it yet, will try to catch it at some point!







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  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: Ireland Nimuae's Avatar
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    I am so glad that Mrs Emma Peel recommended this - I ordered it from Amazon - and what a great film it is - thank you !

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: UK Flare Players's Avatar
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    Very good film with the two Yorks and James Faulkner in particularly good form. Top cast chewing their way through a gripping script.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: England mrs_emma_peel's Avatar
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    Thank you, Nimuae ... my pleasure
    Emma

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: Wales
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    Anything with Susannah York in is worth watching, in my teens I was in lust with the woman. Her suntanned face and legs in Sands of the Kalahari kept me awake at night for weeks after seeing the film

    Back to the original post, I've not seen Conduct Unbecoming for many years to be honest, don't really remember much about it. I've always enjoyed Michael York, he's a fine actor in my opinion.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK Flare Players's Avatar
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    ...and he's way too underrated as well.

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