Top 20 British War Films – 19 My Boy Jack

The Think Defence Top 20 British War Film Countdown

Chosen not on their artistic merit, artistic accuracy or 100% Britishness but just because I think they are great and well worth a watch.

Details – My Boy Jack

Cast; David Haig Rudyard Kipling, Daniel Radcliffe John Kipling, Kim Cattrall Caroline Kipling, Carey Mulligan Elsie Kipling
Certificate; M
Release Date; Sun Apr 20 2008
IMDB Rating; 7.2
Runtime (Runtime in minutes); 93
Tagline (Branding slogan); A young man fights for his country.
Writers; David Haig (play)

51g4XFPvF1L Top 20 British War Films   19 My Boy JackEnglish gentleman author Rudyard Kipling, famous for the Jungle Book, uses his considerable influence, being on a War Office propaganda think tank, to get his nearly 18 year-old son John ‘Jack’, admitted for military service during World war I after he is repeatedly refused on account of his bad eyesight. He is enrolled in the Irish Guards: their patriotic dream but mother and sister’s nightmare. After a short officer training course Jack gets command of a platoon and embarks in France. Soon, and just after his 18th birthday, his unit suffers terrible losses and Jack is reported missing. Now mother Caroline ‘Carry’ Kipling proves unstoppable pushing Rudyard’s influence and half of England to help find out the truth. When it finally comes, there is far less glory than gore and guilt.









Read more;

John ‘Jack’ Kipling at Wikipedia


Watch it because

Bear with me on this one, it’s nothing to do with Harry Potter but tells the tale of the loss of a son to war as seen by his father, Rudyard Kipling, and the conflict between his love of King and Country and the love of family.

A conflict which I guess was echoed in countless families during and after the Great War

Great performances and a cracking script.

And lets face it, Kim Cattrall is always worth a glance

Ask Santa

The Top 20

  1. My Boy Jack
  2. The Heroes of Telemark


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11 thoughts on “Top 20 British War Films – 19 My Boy Jack

  1. x

    A worthy film yes, but a top film? No. Based on this selection give us a spoiler, tell us how far up the list is Tumbledown?

  2. Aidan Handyside

    I made a point of viewing this film as my wife’s family come from Burwash and her father restored Batemans flour mill to working order. According to village folklore, Rudyard Kipling addressed meetings in the village urging all young men to enlist for the King and Empire. At one of these meetings a heckler shouted, “Why hasn’t your son enlisted?” Whereupon, so the story goes Jack was sent off to the Army. I found the film certainly transported the viewer to that time period with all its mores. I thought Daniel Ratcliffe tremendous as Jack and David Craig slipped easily into the part of Kipling Senior, a part seemingly made for him. It’s on my list of Top 20 and sits in my DVD cabinet. Four stars from me

  3. M&S

    On the assumption that you want the list filled and in no particular order:

    ‘Sea Of Sand’,
    ‘Where Eagles Dare’ (Bite Me),
    ‘A Bridge Too Far’,
    ‘The Battle Of Britain’,
    ‘Zulu Dawn’,
    ‘The Man Who Would Be King’,
    ‘Guns Of Navarone’ (I only wish both films had been based on the books and not 1970s race politics, I missed the Andreas Stavros of the novels),
    ‘Target Tirpitz’,
    ‘Breaker Morant’,
    ‘The LightHorsemen’,
    ‘Excalibur’ (because everyone needs a little light rape porn hiding under the heading of dark age fantasy and ‘Death Stalker’ isn’t British).

  4. Steve

    I have not seen anyone mention 1956 MGM movie Dunkirk staring John Mills, Richard Attenborough.

    A well made black and white story movie. It covers the home front malaise during the phony war with lots of original clips including recordings of broadcasts by Lord Haw Haw and stage performance of ‘Hang Out the Washing on the Siegfried Line’ , and the same BEF malaise in France then then shock and surprise in the days after10 May 1940.
    It then follows the story a group of soldiers that have to make there way back through enemy lines to Dunkirk and of 2 small boats that go across the channel to the beaches.
    Real film clips of a what it is like to be under Stuka attack with their sirens.
    I think this captured the sentiment of early wartime Britain and BEF more accurately than just about any other movie I have seen.
    I saw it as an 8 year old in 1957 and had nightmares for some time because of the graphic scenes in of a BEF artillery unit being hit by counter-fire and a destroyer sinking at Dunkirk with men in panic as it goes down.
    I downloaded it a few years ago.

  5. alienated

    Thankyou for a post that I can readily comprehend without hours of Googling :) Good choices too!

    Also in no order of preference can I suggest:
    Ice Cold in Alex
    The Cruel Sea
    633 Squadron
    Sink the Bismark
    Battle of the River Plate
    An Ungentlemanly Act
    Mrs Miniver
    Bridge o.t.River Kwai
    Henry V (I prefer the grittier Ken. Branhagh version)
    A Matter of Life & Death
    Reach For the Sky

    Plenty more out there, I am sure. Hope there will be good British war films arising from Iraq / Afganistan, perhaps adapts of such amazing books as “Apache” and “Sniper One”

  6. Fluffy Thoughts

    I look forward to OGH’s choice. It is not one that I would wish to make.

    But, tuppence worth, I would add:

    Carve Her Name with Pride (as women did play an important role in Imperial warfare),
    One of Our Aircraft is missing (for whatever reason it sticks in my mind), and
    Goodbye Mr Chips (as our enemy could soon be our friend; or vice-versa)….

    Too many choices; too little time to contemplate! Of course BotRK/LoA/Z/MtwbK are classics. Four feathers (but which version)? No 39-steps? Riddle-in-the-Sands?

    Too difficult a task….

  7. WiseApe

    Must admit I’ve not heard of this one.

    What about The First of the Few, before the yanks do a remake of how they won the BoB?

    No mentions for We Dive at Dawn or Reach for the Sky? Tough crowd.

  8. dgos

    ‘F’ for Freddie

    Made deep impression on me as boy. Wimpy mission I think – very low key.

    In those we serve (written by Noel Coward) possibly a bit twee!

    Again in my deep memory

  9. Aidan Handyside

    I’m surprised The Cockleshell Heroes hasn’t been mentioned. How could it be overlooked?

  10. Tony

    Good movie, and one that advanced my military history education.

    I commented elsewhere that nobody in the trenches seemed to be wearing helmets. It appears that in 1915, British and commonwealth troops didn’t HAVE helmets.

    Enjoyed the tug-of-war within Kipling Sr. re: the justness of WW1, in spite of knowing the scale of the sacrifices being made, and the agony of losing a son to said war.

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