Conduct Unbecoming (film)

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Conduct Unbecoming
Conduct Unbecoming VideoCover.jpeg
Directed by Michael Anderson
Starring Michael York
Richard Attenborough
Trevor Howard
Music by Stanley Myers
Cinematography Robert Huke
Edited by John Glen
Distributed by British Lion
Release dates
  • 5 October 1975 (1975-10-05)
Running time
107 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Conduct Unbecoming is a 1975 British drama film, an adaptation of the Barry England play Conduct Unbecoming, first staged in 1969. It was directed by Michael Anderson and starred an ensemble cast of actors including Michael York, Richard Attenborough and Trevor Howard.


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 (James 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 was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross in 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 by the officers of the regiment in secret, to protect reputations, is expected to be a formality.

However, as the court begins to examine the apparently 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.


Actor Role
Michael York Lieutenant Drake
Richard Attenborough Major Roach
Trevor Howard Colonel Strang
Stacy Keach Captain Harper
Christopher Plummer Major Wimbourne
Susannah York Mrs Scarlett
James Faulkner Lieutenant Millington
Michael Culver Lieutenant Fothergill

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