The one thing that Hendry shows is very natural in Williams though is the brutal treatment of the soldiers, something that no doubt carried over quite well from the way Williams probably treated civilian prisoners. Hendry brings a quiet but very strong sadism in Williams as he purposefully mistreats the soldiers in any way he can think of. Hendry's cap often covers his eyes leaving him to do so much with just his mouth. That little smirk of his when he watches the men suffer is absolutely putrid as Hendry exudes the pleasure Williams takes in harming the men. Hendry shows a complete comfort in this aspect of Williams's "duty". Hendry is particularly effective though in the moments where he sees that most of the men simply won't have his punishment and at times ignore him. The weaknesses of his facade are shown in slight reactions by Hendry as there is almost a fear as he sees that he might not really have it to control the men the way Williams probably did back home. Williams though is not the only prison guard which brings us to....
Ian Bannen who did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Staff Sergeant Harris in The Hill.
Bannen's performance is terrific as he plays the good Sergeant but it is never blunt as that. Although he is indeed a good man, Bannen is careful to show that Harris must exist within the limitations of being in the military still so he can't quite yell his discontent right out in the open. Bannen instead, in the earlier scenes of the film anyways, is quite memorable how he plays the scenes where Harris questions Williams's treatment of the men. Bannen brings an excessive jovial quality to Harris as he basically makes his complaints in a joking way. Bannen does not suggest that Harris is not serious about his complaints, but rather shows the method in which Harris has to voice his complaints in order not to face punishment himself. Bannen shows the true extent of Harris's problems with the system. These are quick reactions but Bannen does the very most with them. In a quick moment, when Harris alone, Bannen quickly shows the very real anger that Harris has not only at what's happening but perhaps at his inability to stop it. The man Harris tries to complain to leads us to....
Harry Andrews who did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning NBR and being nominated for BAFTA, for portraying Regimental Sergeant Major Wilson in The Hill.
The difference between Williams and Wilson, even though they both try to be as firm as possible, is that Wilson has no sadism in him. Now that does not mean Wilson is an easygoing guy but the way Andrews portrays the strict behavior of Wilson differs vastly from Hendry's performance. Andrews does no express any pleasure ever from breaking down any of the men, and there is a particularly effective scene early on where Wilson releases two of the former prisoners. Both men now seem to be right back where they should be as ideal soldiers. Andrews is terrific in this scene as he looks upon the men with great pride in his accomplishment. Andrews in this scene suggests Wilson's thinking which is that he is there to help the men in his view. He does not want to break them down for enjoyment, like Williams does, but rather because he sees it as a necessity to build them back up again. Andrews is particularly good in the way he portrays the only hatred in Wilson as a sorta put on when merely when he needs to take charge, and it is not that he truly hates the men.
Not every scene depicts the three men on duty and these very important moments in realizing the nature of each man. Bannen, who is the most calm anyways, loses the least technically speaking as he shows that Harris does not put on too much of an act. Next is Andrews who shows that much of his bluster is only a purposeful method he uses to command. Andrews is quite good by playing these scenes in a far more relaxed fashion, as he manages to convey that Wilson has his whole plan worked out quite well. Hendry is equally interesting as there still a considerable amount of tension he brings to Williams, who spends some of his spare time running up and down the hill of punishment to prove that he can do it even though he is doing it in far less severe of conditions. Hendry though is also great by losing the facade in these scenes completely. Yes Hendry still shows that Williams never can really relax, but that there is no soldier in him whatsoever when he is not on duty. All three actors here to fantastic job of just giving even more depth to their characters, and realizing them to be more than just the prison guards we first meet.
For a little while Hendry gets a stronger focus as the film depicts him trying to break down the five men, but not exactly having an easy time of it. Hendry makes the despicable nature of Williams all too human as Williams sets his strongest sight on Stevens. When he does this Hendry doesn't suggest that its simply because he can, but rather that Williams almost readjusts his aims to Stevens because he sees him as the easiest target to handle. This is because Stevens does not handle it well at all, and there is an especially good scene for Bannen as Harris quietly urges Stevens to find a way to survive. Again Bannen exudes a subtle warmth as Harris tries to tell him this, while not trying to break his position. Stevens soon dies from the treatment though leaving Wilson to try to cover up for Williams, simply because he's one of his men. Andrews is great as he keeps that military manner as he tells the camp's doctor (Michael Redgrave) to consider it an accident, but is particularly effective though as he shows the actual frustration in the man when he warns Williams that death is not the point of the treatment.
The death causes an uproar in the prison and almost a riot as all the prisoners demand an answer to who killed Stevens. This leads to perhaps Andrews's best scene in the film as he goes about handling every man in the prison. Andrews is in absolute command of every second of the scene and portrays him as almost a master of ceremonies at a circus. There is that viciousness needed as he does threaten the men if they continue the course, yet interestingly Andrews at the same time he's actually quite entertaining as he flawlessly delivers Wilson's jokes in order to calm the situation. He has a particularly brilliant back and forth with Bannen in the scene where they lighten the mood as almost a comedic pair. Andrews, and to a slightly lesser extent Bannen, make it believable that they could get the crowd in line with very few threats through their performances. It's a marvelous scene as you fully scene the way that Wilson rules over the prison. Andrews is not just menacing, even if he is certainly that, but there is certain heart that he brings as Wilson seems to be the prisoners' friend even though he is kinda their enemy.
Williams does not seize in his behavior though as he has Roberts beaten due to Roberts wishing to press the issue of Stevens's death. Hendry again reveals the very human side of Williams as he is almost shaking as he brings the beaten Roberts back, as though he has just realized he's probably gone too far. Andrews is again terrific as Wilson, amidst brow beating prisoners, admonishes Williams for once again doing wrong. Andrews proceeds to be amazing once again when he faces off with Roberts. Andrews, although very forceful, stands particularly distraught as he questions a true military man like himself but who has somehow rejected that path. Andrews portrays Wilson as almost ready to cry in one moment simply because the way Wilson's view is being shattered because how could a man just like him hate the military code so much. Bannen, though put somewhat to the side, is never forgotten though through his reactions as he expresses the growing discontent in Harris, and slowly gains the strength to finally stand up to Wilson fully.
This all comes to a head when the issue is raised that Roberts should be treated at a hospital not in a cell. Hendry again keeps Williams as absolute slime as he keeps his reserve trying to keep pushing the envelope to basically trick Wilson into protecting him. Andrews is equally good as he puts on his most forceful act as Wilson tries to push everyone into doing what he wants. Then there is Bannen who brings such a poignancy and power as he reveals Harris's own passion to try to stand firmly against Wilson and Williams. The way Andrews accepts every defeat, as the doctor and Harris won't stand down, is perfect. Andrews expresses it as a man who will not lose face so its just an instance and acts as though his yelling was just because he lost his head in the moment. The sparks might as well fly in the scene as Bannen, Hendry, Andrews, as well as Connery and Redgrave go at it. They are all on top form and they make it a spellbinding scene as it unfolds. There is no reason not to state it, this is one of, if not the, greatest film ensembles of all time. There's Connery's passionate lead performance, as well the very fine work from Ossie Davis, Roy Kinnear, and Michael Redgrave, and even Watson and Lynch are memorable in somewhat simpler roles. Rounding it out all out the Ians and Andrews who each give a complex and compelling portrait of not only what each man represents, but also of who the man is.