Cinema: Pillagers and Villagers

Max Beerbohm once concocted a curtain line for which there was no play: "I'm leaving for the Thirty Years' War!" Poor Max. He did not live to see his conceit turned to good use. His line could —and should—be attached to The Last Valley like a tin can tied to a jalopy.

Written, produced and directed by James Clavell, The Last Valley confuses that pestilential epoch (1618-1648) with insights circa 1970. Though the war is principally religious, the soldier known only as Captain (Michael Caine) is an existential atheist. God is a legend, he...

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