Private Potter (1962)    0 Stars


Private Potter (1962)
Private Potter (1962)


Director: Caspar Wrede

Cast: Tom Courtenay, Mogens Wieth, Ronald Fraser

Synopsis: A military mission is interrupted when a soldier claims that God had appeared to him in a transcendental vision.





It’s difficult to understand what Caspar Wrede’s Private Potter is trying to say, and why – even at only 90-ish minutes – it takes so long to say it (or not say it, if you see what I mean). Only Tom Courtenay (The Dresser), in one of the few roles that ever truly suited his glum, reserved screen persona, sparks any kind of interest in what, potentially, could have been a powerful and incisive movie.

Unfortunately, the first ten minutes of the film, which shows the events during a mission that is crucial to the plot, are marred by night-time photography that is so dark it’s virtually impossible to figure out what is going on.

The film’s thin plot concerns the alleged cowardice of a young private during a WWII night mission, which eventually leads to the death of a comrade. The private’s claim that he cried out during the mission because he saw a vision of God causes all manner of consternation and conflict amongst his commanding officers, and sets the strict military code against religious dogma as they struggle to decide what to do with him.

Courtenay’s military superiors are too often portrayed as either asses of the ‘blithering’ and pompous kind, or stiff-upper-lipped gentlemen who feel inclined to throw the book at the weak and withdrawn Potter, but who are prevented from doing so by conscience and doubt. It’s all a bit like an episode of ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ played straight at times. Unfortunately, there’s no equivalent of Baldrick to lighten up the proceedings.

Having introduced the moral dilemmas relatively swiftly, the film then proceeds to ramble interminably until it just kind of peters out at the end – its conclusion is especially unsatisfactory. All in all, a disappointing effort.

(Reviewed 24th April 2002)

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