Man in the Middle (film)

Man in the Middle is a 1964 CinemaScope film, starring Robert Mitchum and directed by Guy Hamilton. The movie, set in World War II India, tells the story of the murder trial of an American Army officer who killed a British soldier. Mitchum plays Lieut. Col. Barney Adams, who has been assigned as the accused man's defense counsel. The film is also known as The Winston Affair, the title of the novel the film was based on, which was written by Howard Fast.

Man in the Middle
British quad poster
Directed byGuy Hamilton
Produced byWalter Seltzer
Screenplay byWillis Hall
Keith Waterhouse
Based onThe Winston Affair
(1959 novel)
by Howard Fast
StarringRobert Mitchum
France Nuyen
Barry Sullivan
Music byJohn Barry
CinematographyWilkie Cooper
Edited byJohn Bloom
Production
company
Talbot Productions
Distributed byTwentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Release date
5 February 1964 (1964-02-05)
Running time
94 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Box office$1,000,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

Plot

Friction develops between American and British troops stationed in India during World War II and fights break out between the troops when, in 1944, American 2nd Lieutenant Winston (Keenan Wynn) shoots unarmed British Staff Sergeant Quinn (Bill Mitchell) several times, seemingly without provocation, in front of 11 witnesses. American General Kempton (Barry Sullivan) assigns Lieutenant Colonel Barney Adams (Robert Mitchum) to defend Winston at his court-martial because, even though everyone thinks it is an open-and-shut case, the general wants Adams to put up a vigorous defense. He is to make it clear that the verdict is not simply a sop to reduce tensions between the two armies before an offensive against the real enemy. Adams later finds out that Winston's brother-in-law, a Congressman, has been applying pressure.

The Army Lunacy Commission has found Winston fit and sane; Adams is informed by nurse Kate Davray (France Nuyen) that Colonel Burton (Alexander Knox), who headed the lunacy commission, refused to accept the report (which he destroyed) of the hospital's psychiatric head, Major Kaufman (Sam Wanamaker), who believes Winston is a psychopath. Burton is anxious to have Winston convicted and hanged to patch the strained relations between the two forces. Adams instructs Kaufman to bring his report to the trial but when Burton is informed of this order he transfers Kaufman to a distant hospital. Adams visits British Major Kensington (Trevor Howard), a qualified psychiatrist who also considers Winston to be psychopathic but has been warned not to interfere. Kensington believes Winston killed Quinn out of a feeling of victimization because Quinn, a sergeant, had the same duties as Winston, a lieutenant. During a brief love affair, nurse Kate Davray gives an unsigned photocopy of Major Kaufman's report to Colonel Adams which at first Adams refuses to accept.

Winston, in an interview with Adams, raves that he killed Quinn for defiling the white race by consorting with a black woman. Though he despises Winston, Adams refuses to rig the trial and he holds back his defense, waiting for Kaufman to arrive as a witness. When he learns that Kaufman has been killed in a jeep accident on the way to the trial, Adams calls Kensington to the stand after establishing that no member of the lunacy commission is a qualified psychiatrist, to authenticate the unsigned photocopy of Major Kaufman's report. As Kensington describes Winston's mental illness to the court, Winston cracks and begins raving. Adams wins his case and spends a few days of peace and happiness with nurse Davray before leaving the area. The friction between the troops is eased and they prepare to enter battle in complete unity.

Cast

Reception

According to Fox records, the film needed to earn $2,800,000 in film rentals to break even and made $1,735,000, meaning it lost money.[2]

References

  1. "Big Rental Pictures of 1964", Variety, 6 January 1965 p 39. Please note this figure is rentals accruing to distributors not total gross.
  2. Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 323.
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