Guest author Jerry Entract does not run his own blog or have any involvement in the film industry but is an English lifelong movie fan and amateur student of classic cinema (American and British). His main passions are the western and detective/mystery/film noir. He enjoys seeking out lesser-known (even downright obscure) old movies.
I think the idea for a “British Empire Blogathon” is a great one and thank our hosts The Stalking Moon and Phantom Empires for coming up with it.
I am sure the temptation for many would be to treat the subject as a sort of spoof but if I disappoint by treating it “straight”, I apologise (or do I?).
This was a BIG movie of its time, filmed by London Films which was owned by movie mogul Alexander Korda who adopted England as his home, both literally and spiritually. His films had “sweep” and expanse and this film was an early use of Technicolor which made all the difference when showing the red jackets of the English Army and the locations in which the film was (partly) shot.
I first saw this film some 40 years ago at London’s National Film Theatre, viewing it for the first time as intended – on the big screen. It made an impression certainly and when my new wife and I got our first cat it was named after the central character in the film, Carruthers!!
The background to the story is the turbulent north-west frontier of India during the height of the British Raj. As Captain Carruthers (Roger Livesey) arrives to take over command of the garrison with his new wife (Valerie Hobson) he befriends the young Prince Azim (Sabu) whose father is murdered by the prince’s wicked uncle Ghul (Raymond Massey). The prince eventually sounds the alarm that the garrison is about to be massacred by Ghul’s hordes, leading to an exciting and well-mounted pitched battle to close out the story.
Because the film was made in 1938 and by the pro-English Korda the story is very much supportive of the British Empire. It is from the novel by A.E.W. Mason (also “Four Feathers”) with a screenplay by Arthur Wimperis, Hugh Grey, Patrick Kirwan and Lajos Biro. There was involvement of five cinematographers, Geoffrey Unsworth, Christopher Challis, Georges Perinal, Osmond Borrowdale and Robert Krasker. Shooting took place in the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan, regions of India including Kashmir and in the Welsh mountains in Gwynedd.
A huge cast was assembled with a number of names down the cast who would later become better known but the lead role was played very well by the under-rated classically-trained actor Roger Livesey.
The film is available on DVD from Amazon, among others, having been released in Region 1 format in 2010. It appears to have had 11 minutes shaved off the running time though (be warned).
For sweep and cinematic excellence of its day I would recommend this film to all with a little adventure in their soul!
Opinionated ramblings about new and old movies (mostly old, as that's the way I like 'em!)
Blogs of Note
Stuart Galbraith IV's World Cinema Paradise
Movie Morlocks (TCM's Classic Movie Blog)
50 Westerns from the 50s
Riding the High Country
Tipping My Fedora
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
Classic TV and Film Cafe
Just a Cineast
She Blogged By Night
Chess, Comics, Crosswords, Books, Music, Cinema
Out of the Past -
A Classic Film Blog
Pretty Sinister Books
They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To
In So Many Words...
Greenbriar Picture Shows
My Love of Old Hollywood
Tales of the Easily Distracted
Another Old Movie Blog
Lasso the Movies
Kevin's Movie Corner
Films From Beyond the Time Barrier
Carole & Co.
Rupert Pupkin Speaks
Vienna's Classic Hollywood
The Lady Eve's Reel Life
ClassicBecky's Brain Food
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