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Conduct Unbecoming

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Conduct Unbecoming (1975)

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Additional Information
An unspeakable crime among officers and ladies.

Based on a play by Barry England, the British Conduct Unbecoming revolves around a sexual violation--which may or may not have occurred. In British India, highborn Mrs. Scarlett (Susannah York) accuses 2nd Lt. Millington, a Bengal Lancer officer (James Faulkner) of raping her. Lieutenant Arthur Drake (Michael York) is assigned to defend Lt. Millington in a trial held behind closed doors to avoid scandal. Colonel Strang (Trevor Howard.) is a martinet judge who presses for a conviction, only to have his determination shaken by the introduction of new evidence. Conduct Unbecoming has the look and feel of a decades-old stage production, but the dialogue and performances provide a strictly contemporary slant. ~

Two young British officers arrive to join a prestigious regiment serving in India. One, Lieutenant Drake (York), from a middle-class background, is extremely eager to make the right impression while the other, Lieutenant Millington (Faulkner), the son of a General, is not taken with the idea of the army, and keen to get out as soon as he possibly can. Almost as soon as they arrive, Millington gets off on the wrong foot with his comrades, causing them to dislike him.
A number of 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 Mrs Marjorie Scarlett, whose husband Captain Scarlett won a posthumous Victoria Cross after fighting on the North-West Frontier. During an evening in the mess, involving the younger officers taking part in a ceremonial tradition that involves the pursuit and sticking of a pig, Mrs Scarlett runs in claiming to have been attacked, and identifies Lieutenant Millington as her attacker.
Millington has clearly seen this as a quick way back to England, and is apparently not bothered by the disgrace. 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 trial, convened in secret by the officers of the regiment to protect reputations, is expected to be a formality.
However, as the court begins to examine the open-and-shut circumstances of the case, a number of elements of doubt creep into the case including the nature of the attack, and the veracity of some of the evidence being given. This leads to Drake beginning to dig a little further, and having found a similar attack had taken place six months before, long before Millington had joined the regiment, he begins to suspect the culprit was in fact one of the other officers.

Release Date: October 5, 1975

Distrib: Allied Artists


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