Sunday, 18 September 2011

We were all doomed!

Back to Colonel Blimp.  One of the highlights of this film is the instantly recognisable John Laurie, who plays the Colonel's long time manservant, Murdoch.  Laurie is of course most famous today for his role as Private Fraser in the comedy show 'Dad's Army'.  In an absolutely delicious scene in Blimp, Murdoch announces to the Colonel that he has joined the Home Guard.  There is an overwhelming temptation to call out to the screen - "Yes!  We know!"

In this part of the film, the Colonel has just been given the push from the army and is in despairing mood.  He decides with some prompting to follow Murdoch's example.  This turns out to be an excellent move and the Colonel's skills are put to good use in training up the guard.  The scenes which illustrate the hard work the Colonel puts into his new vocation make an interesting comparison to the 'Dad's Army' platoon's exploits.  They highlight that in  fact the Home Guard were trained as well as they could be with the highly stretched resources available to them.  The film is a reminder of a fact that the comedy element of 'Dad's Army' can make us forget.  This fact is that these men that we now often associate with laughable incompetence were trained soldiers who were prepared to die a horrible death in defence of their country.  In the early 1940s, invasion of southern England was a highly likely imminent event.  These men were not just playing at  war.  Croft and Perry, the creators of 'Dad's Army', of course knew this and were just playing on the more ludicrous elements of the Home Guard for comedic effect.  Unfortunately, those of us born in the 1950's and beyond can have little or no concept of what World War Two was like and can be tempted to see Dad's Army as being a true portrayal.  We should take a little more heed of Colonel Blimp and reflect on the bravery of those who were prepared to face tanks and machine guns for us.

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