Getting up early-ish on a Saturday sometimes has its rewards. I caught the movie All the Queen’s Men, a comedy about World War 2. Those are always rather dicey to watch, but often are very good, e.g. To Be or Not To Be either with Jack Benny or Mel Brooks, combining enough deadly serious reality, sadness and bitter irony with the humor.
First off, don’t pay attentions to movie ratings. This is good, who cares what some self-dubbed “film critic” says. It’s not Hamlet, (my favorite version and yes I like the tenth Doctor and the ninth and fourth aren’t so bad either) but there’s only so many times I want to watch lunatic familes killing each other.
There are spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned.
Matt LeBlanc plays the romantic lead, of course he’ll get the girl! Amusingly enough, he doesn’t look that bad in drag. Thre are the requisite men pursuing him (best done of course in Some Like It Hot). The titular queen is Eddie Izzard, one of the most hilarious men in comedy. He has a sweet romance going on as a secondary story. The rest are the typical bunch of misfits, with enough real pathos played to make them very appealing characters.
One of the most unsettling scenes is when Archie, an older British fellow, finds himself in an air raid (and yes, in drag). You can see the sky filled with Allied bombers, hundreds of them cresting what I think was the towers of a church with the raid sirens blowing. A young girl is paralyzed by fright and he risks his own safety to save her.
At the end, the team realize just what their real mission was. Not to get an Enigma, but to convince the Nazis that no one had gotten one yet. WW2 had more than a few real hoaxes like this, such as Operation Mincemeat . As an aside, the one very popular story about Enigma machines is that Churchill had to decide between keeping the secret that they knew the code or warning the population of Coventry of an attack. That appears to be just a myth.
Yes, the movie is ridiculous. Yes, there damn little way the whole scheme would have worked. But it has enough truth about the war, human nature (both good and bad), to make it a good story. And that’s all it has to be.