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In this stirring anti-war film set during WWI, a tough, no-nonsense British Army lawyer (Dick Bogarde) is assigned to defend a lowly private (Tom Courtenay) at his court martial. The private has been accused of desertion during battle. The lawyer, Captain Hargreaves is convinced this young man should be executed. However, as the trial progresses and the strain of three horrible years endured at the Allied front is revealed, the more he is compelled to spare the youth from a firing squad.