The Long and the Short and the Tall (play)

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The Long and the Short and the Tall
The long and the short and the tall Cast.jpeg
Written by Willis Hall
  • Sergeant R. 'Mitch' Mitchem
  • Corporal Edward 'Johnno' Johnstone
  • Lance-Corporal A. J. Macleish
  • Private C. 'Bammo' Bamforth
  • Private T. E. 'Taff' Evans
  • Private P. 'Smudger' Smith
  • Private Samuel 'Sammy' Whitaker
Mute Japanese Soldier
Date premiered 7 January 1959 (1959-01-07)
Place premiered Royal Court Theatre, London
Subject Japanese Invasion of British Malaya during World War II.
Setting January 1942
An abandoned tin mine in the Malayan jungle

The Long and the Short and the Tall is a play written by British playwright Willis Hall. Set in the Second World War, the play premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London in January 1959; it was directed by Lindsay Anderson and starred Peter O'Toole and Robert Shaw. It was Anderson's first major production for the Royal Court, transferring to London's West End in April 1959.[1]

The play's name comes from the lyrics of the 1917 song "Bless 'Em All".

A film adaptation was released in 1961. Directed by Leslie Norman, it stars Laurence Harvey, Richard Harris, Richard Todd and David McCallum. A TV drama followed in 1979 which starred Michael Kitchen, Mark McManus and Richard Morant.


The play is set in British Malaya in 1942, during the Battle of Malaya. The characters are a patrol of British Army soldiers; the play's events take place in an abandoned tin mine. Tension rises as the patrol's radio malfunctions and a Japanese soldier stumbles upon them.

Characters / cast[edit]


  1. ^ Roberts, Philip (1999). The Royal Court Theatre and the Modern Stage. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 68–75. ISBN 0-521-47438-8.