A visual journey coated with words, which we hope will allow you to see through the eyes of two men; one from the vital, tough, industrial part of our oh-so-green England, the other born in equal poverty, but in the softer, less-harsh area of Britain, the gentle South.

Both men enjoyed a brief, but brilliant addition to the British conscience, touching people’s hearts and minds.  The purpose of telling you this is based on the simple and human fact that it is so difficult to stand out in the crowd of whatever occupation you seek.  So when it comes your way, you are momentarily dazed by your good luck, and in many cases, your realization of the chord that you have struck and that the character you played went so deeply into the British consciousness.

The chances of getting to play characters such as Billy Casper and Sgt. Benton are far too great to even consider.  This, then, is how life unfolded for these two similar men I mention.  One of them is myself, stage name John Levene, and the other gentleman I refer to is someone who had a profound impact on my memories and my emotional recognition of our similar school days.


John Levene and David Bradley 2006


The title of this feature I speak of is Kes, and the star of that film is a young David (Dai) Bradley.  The boy David played is from a less-than-prosperous part of Great Britain, and when I saw this feature in 1969, it was like a pure reflection of myself in the same situation, facing the same fearful frustrations of youth.

The film was set in approximately 1950, my own school days were 1946 - 1958.  The scenes we have chosen perfectly reflect our mutual struggle to just breathe and survive the daily barage of angry words and the flying fists of schoolyard bullies, with very little food in your tummy, and a father that didn’t even care you existed. I would love you to let us know at the site if the scenes I’ve chosen affect you in the same way as they did me all those years ago.

A note for our American visitors: I happily warn you that the accent is quite broad, which of course is what makes it so appealing, yet you may have to watch it more than once to catch what they’re saying.  Of course, this does not matter, for you will find that David’s performance will stun you with his naturalistic acting sense.


David Bradley as Billy Casper

You can feel the cold when you see Dai standing there, when the one thing he loved, the one thing that loved him back, was brutally taken away from him.  The overall atmosphere of the scenes I’m asking you to watch reflect perfectly my real life school days when the bully ruled, and the teachers turned their backs.

So sit back, and enjoy the privilege of one of the great British movies, on the 40th anniversary of its first public screening at The London Film festival in November of 1969.

Your very sincerely,

John Levene


© Copyright 2011 John Levene Sgt. At Arms
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No infringement of this copyright is either implied or intended.