An Ungentlemanly Act Based on actual accounts, this film portrays the days and hours before and during the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentina, which eventually lead to the Falklands War. As the Argentine forces land on the main island and make their way towards Government House, the British Royal Marines batten down the hatches and prepare to defend Governer Rex Hunt, his family and their fellow islanders from the invaders.
If Ealing Studios had made a Falklands War movie
An Ungentlemanly Act This was a very well made TV movie about the Falklands War. Up until that time, the war was depicted in very negative and anti-British terms with efforts like “Sink The Belgrano” (the British as war-mongers) and “Tumbledown” (the British army treats its men with contempt). This is a more balanced effort, and is all the better for it. The Falkland Islands and its people are depicted as a quaint, small town British community, almost like a corner of Somerset or Yorkshire. They live a life that almost embodies an earlier, stereotypical 1950’s way far removed from cosmopolitan London. The theme of the film is that of violation. When the Argentinians threaten to invade, the locals close ranks and prepare for the worst; even though they’re not sure what that will entail. The Royal Marines, professional to the last, won’t give in that easily; they don’t want their honour violated. The DJ refuses to have his station violated, the defenders of Government house don’t even want the vegetable patch violated. The Argentinians are not the focus of the story and their point of view isn’t really delved into; suffice to say General Mendoza comes across as a reasonable person, but a few of his officers are shown as brutal thugs who can’t wait to impose their ways on the islanders.
The film came out when anti-Thatcher bias in the British media was high, and it’s not an anti-Thatcher piece at all. It goes a little into the British seeming to reduce their commitment to the islands at the beginning, but the impression I was left with was that the islanders were absolutely horrified to be taken over by Argentina. It pits the olde-worlde British village life against the Banana Republic army boot. The acting is first rate (have Ian Richardson or the late lamented Bob Peck ever put in a bad performance?) and the production values are very good.