Wednesday, August 17, 2005

He's dead, Jim...

James Booth, the actor who played Private Henry Hook VC in Zulu, has died aged 77.

I've already done a post on the rainbow array of glaring historical inaccuracies in the film (which is, nontheless, a great film) and I won't rehearse them all here but...

But his portrayal of Private Henry Hook as a thieving drunk would later inspire a campaign to restore the reputation of the Victoria Cross-winning soldier.

Frankly, it's scarcely surprising. Short of the fact that he won the VC, the Hook portrayed in the film could not have been a greater contrast to the real man if the scriptwriters had tried (ironically, the writer behind the film, John Prebble, was himself a sometime historian). In the film Hook is seen as a drunk, a malingerer, a cheat and a thug, who finds mean redemption in the battle). In reality, Hook was a teetotaller, a hard worker and one of the most popular figures in the battalion among both officers and men, with a repuation for kindness, generosity and conscientiousness (and a doting father and husband). Indeed, he was only present in the hospital at the time of the attack because he had volunteered to take on extra duty assisting Surgeon-Major Reynolds.

Makes U-571 and The Patriot seem like pretty small fry in comparison!


Blogger Diana Blackwell said...

For more information on James Booth, please see the world's only website about him,, which includes a bio, interviews, original reviews, photos, and much more.
Diana Blackwell

10:19 AM  

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