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'Tumes of Glory' movie accuracy

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  • 'Tumes of Glory' movie accuracy

    I was re-watching the 1960 movie, 'Tunes of Glory' last night starring Alec Guinness on Youtube, and mused how much of a love letter it is to regimental piping in post WWII Scotland.

    Was just wondering if any forum members could comment on the film's accuracy, of the importance placed on piping in regiments at the time depicted - is it pure piper's fantasy? If true to life, is it still the same? If different, how has that life altered?
    Last edited by Billy Boy; 03-18-2021, 05:56 AM. Reason: Wish I could correct that title....
    “Where’s my beer?”

  • #2
    * 'Tunes of Glory'
    “Where’s my beer?”

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    • #3
      Well, I'm a piper, and I also served as a junior officer in a Canadian Highland Regiment, Militia, not regular force.
      I even wore Battle dress back in my Army Cadet days like they're wearing in the movie.
      I found the movie very accurate.
      My Regiment behaved very much like a family.
      The Colonel was the stern father, and the pipers who represented the Regiment were always treated very well. They served as ambassadors for the Regiment to the public.
      Perhaps I was fortunate and served under the correct type of CO.
      I ventured back for a few more years service when the Regiment was under command of a different CO who was not from a Highland Regiment.
      The Regiment was still an effective infantry unit, but the family feeling had diminished considerably.
      The mess conduct in the movie I felt was very accurate.
      I understand the movie is based on a novel by an author who served as a junior officer in a Highland Regiment. I think the Gordons?
      The bulk of the stand-ins are serving military, and the pipeband is from the London Scottish?

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      • #4
        Yes, at the time there was a great deal of pride in the quality of a regiment's piping, and attempts at poaching future stars from other regiments were not unknown.

        As to detail, while I wouldn't rely on any particular nugget as fact, it's often been described as one of the most true to life portrayals of Highland regiment. Whisky for those that like it, and for those that don't...whisky!
        BagpipeTechnique.net
        Tunes from Donald MacDonald

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        • #5
          Regimental pride certainly had much to do with it all,..and certainly paramount in the minds of the pipe majors.

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          • #6
            Here's a link for the movie, if interested: https://youtu.be/sfqH-MT1Mlo
            “Where’s my beer?”

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            • #7
              "Tunes of Glory" was very accurate. I have been told that the original intention was to use the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders in the film, but that objections were raised. The result was that a new tartan was devised for the film. The kilts were later used in the comedy film "Carry on up the Khyber" and again for a stage production of "Tunes of Glory", which did feature the London Scottish band. As for the current state of piping in the British Army, see another recent post about the KOSB in this forum. A further defence review is now imminent: this will almost certainly result in further cuts to the army.

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              • #8
                You're right that they wanted to avoid using an actual military tartan, or an actual military cap-badge, to keep the unit generic.

                And that those kilts went into a costume house's storage and have resurfaced time and again.

                But the tartan wasn't invented for the film, it's Scott Hunting Scott Hunting Modern Light Weight Tartan Fabric | Lochcarron of Scotland

                Last edited by pancelticpiper; 03-20-2021, 04:27 PM.
                proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte

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                • #9
                  Great production still of the young hero!

                  Many thanks for all your informed and thoughtful remarks.
                  “Where’s my beer?”

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                  • #10
                    Here's a nice photo of the Pipes & Drums, showing the London Scottish pipers wearing their regimental grey hair sporrans.

                    It's a nice view of the pleating on the Scott Hunting kilts.

                    proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte

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                    • #11
                      The author James Kennaway served in the BlackWatch, the QO Cameron Highlanders and was commissioned into the Gordon Highlanders. He was not a piper, so his depiction of piping in the regiments would be quite accurate. My good friend and contributor to our website P/M Bill Robertson formerly of The Royal Scots had a lengthy discussion with me before he passed away about the role of the Pipes and Drums in a military sense after WW2. "In my time of the 1950s the Pipes and Drums in Schemes/military exercises/and latter part of the Korean War, formed part of the defence platoon around the Battalion Command Post - was somewhere between the two forward companies and the two in reserve. That might have been a new thing after 1945, or in effect later in the WWII." The role of the Pipes and Drums and the Pipers depicted in the movie was certainly in keeping with my experience serving in the 1980s.
                      www.schoolofpiping.com

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                      • #12
                        I watched the movie for the first time the other night. I was struck with the speed of many of the marches. To my ear, just jarring. Normally, I might conclude that it is like that to adapt to the needs of the filming of the movie(s). But, having heard some of the military bands that perform at New Hampshire Highland Games, it's very much the same. Very fast, and to my ear, missing much of the music. Can someone more knowledgeable than me about military style explain the speed? It is simply about marching?
                        Cheers,

                        Matt

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tervs and Tunes View Post
                          I watched the movie for the first time the other night. I was struck with the speed of many of the marches. To my ear, just jarring. Normally, I might conclude that it is like that to adapt to the needs of the filming of the movie(s). But, having heard some of the military bands that perform at New Hampshire Highland Games, it's very much the same. Very fast, and to my ear, missing much of the music. Can someone more knowledgeable than me about military style explain the speed? It is simply about marching?
                          The British Army has a fast marching pace. For this reason, pipe bands in the British Army play tunes on average more quickly than civilian pipe bands, even today. See here:
                           
                          Desiderantes meliorem patriam

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                          • #14
                            Take a metronome with a tap tempo feature and measure your walking speed walking along a smooth surface at a sort of "moving along" speed. It's surprisingly swift.

                            It certainly does sound jarring to our ears, but it's the tempo these tunes are made for, and when you get used to it, I think it sounds far superior. You can literally slow march to a typical modern pipe band 6/8 tempo. The band scene if I remember rightly is "highland tempo", 108-112bpm, which is actually a good bit slower than the usual marching tempo of 120.
                            BagpipeTechnique.net
                            Tunes from Donald MacDonald

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Tervs and Tunes View Post
                              I was struck with the speed of many of the marches.
                              Here's the Victory Parade of the 51st Highland Division in 1945. It's the same 2/4 my pipe band plays but we play it much slower!

                              Here's it's around 108bpm. (On a different topic, note that the soldiers aren't doing the very high arm-swing we associate with the modern British Army. Most of the soldiers are doing a lower arm-swing more like the US Army still does.)

                              (21) 51ST DIVISION VICTORY MARCH - SOUND - YouTube

                              BTW the modern Black Watch video above has the 6/8's at 112bpm.
                              Last edited by pancelticpiper; 04-03-2021, 11:35 AM.
                              proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte

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