The Lives of a Bengal Lancer
|The Lives of a Bengal Lancer|
|Directed by||Henry Hathaway|
|Produced by||Louis D. Lighton|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release dates||January 11, 1935|
|Running time||109 minutes|
The Lives of a Bengal Lancer is a 1935 American adventure film loosely adapted from the 1930 book of the same name by Francis Yeats-Brown. The plot of the movie, which bears little resemblance to Yeats-Brown's memoir, concerns British soldiers defending the borders of India against rebellious natives. It stars Gary Cooper, Franchot Tone, Richard Cromwell, and Douglass Dumbrille. The film was directed by Henry Hathaway and written by Grover Jones, William Slavens McNutt, Waldemar Young, John L. Balderston and Achmed Abdullah.
On the northwest frontier of India during the British Raj, Scottish-Canadian Lieutenant Alan McGregor (Gary Cooper) welcomes two replacements to the 41st Bengal Lancers, Lieutenant Forsythe (Franchot Tone) and Lieutenant Donald Stone (Richard Cromwell), the son of the unit's commander, Colonel Tom Stone (Guy Standing). In an attempt to show impartiality, the colonel treats his son coldly, which is misinterpreted and causes resentment in the young man.
Lieutenant Barrett (Colin Tapley) has been spying on Mohammed Khan (Douglass Dumbrille) and reports that he has been preparing an uprising against the British. Khan kidnaps Lieutenant Stone in order to try to extract vital information about an ammunition caravan from him. When the colonel refuses to attempt his rescue, McGregor and Forsythe go without orders. Unfortunately, they are caught as well. Mohammed Khan says, "We have ways of making men talk" (a line which is frequently misquoted) and has his prisoners tortured. Stone cracks under the pain and reveals what he knows. As a result, the ammunition is captured.
The captives escape as the outmatched Bengal Lancers deploy to assault Khan's fortress. They manage to destroy the ammunition and Stone redeems himself by killing Khan, ensuring victory. However, McGregor is killed in the assault.
- Gary Cooper as Lieutenant Alan McGregor
- Franchot Tone as Lieutenant Forsythe
- Richard Cromwell as Lieutenant Donald Stone
- Guy Standing as Colonel Tom Stone (as Sir Guy Standing)
- C. Aubrey Smith as Major Hamilton
- Kathleen Burke as Tania Volkanskaya
- Douglass Dumbrille as Mohammed Khan
- Monte Blue as Hamzulla Khan
- Colin Tapley as Lieutenant Barrett
- Akim Tamiroff as Otamanu, Emir of Gopal
- J. Carrol Naish as Grand Vizier
- Noble Johnson as Ram Singh
- Lumsden Hare as Major General Sir Thomas Woodley
- Jameson Thomas as Hendrickson
Paramount had planned to produce the film in 1931 and sent Ernest B. Schoedsack and Rex Wimpy to India to film location shots such as a tiger hunt. However, much of the film stock deteriorated. When the movie was eventually made, much of the production took place in the hills surrounding Los Angeles. Paiute Native Americans were used as extras.
Among the filming locations were Lone Pine, Calif., Buffalo Flats in Malibu, Calif., the Paramount Ranch in Agoura, Calif., and the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif. For the climactic half-hour battle sequence at the end of the movie, an elaborate set was built in the Iverson Gorge, part of the Iverson Movie Ranch, to depict Mogala, the mountain stronghold of Mohammed Khan.
- Art Direction (Hans Dreier, Roland Anderson)
- Assistant Director (Clem Beauchamp, Paul Wing) (Won)
- Directing (Henry Hathaway)
- Film Editing (Ellsworth Hoagland)
- Outstanding Production
- Sound Recording (Franklin B. Hansen)
- Writing (Screenplay)
The movie was a big success at the box office and kicked off a cycle of Imperial adventure tales, including The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), Another Dawn (1937), Gunga Din (1939), The Four Feathers (1939) and The Real Glory (1939). It was parodied by Laurel and Hardy in their film Bonnie Scotland.
German dictator Adolf Hitler told British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax in 1937 that "one of his favourite films was Lives of a Bengal Lancer, which he saw three times. He liked this film because it depicted a handful of Britons holding a continent in thrall. That was how a superior race must behave and the film was a compulsory viewing for the S.S."
- British India
- The House That Shadows Built (1931) promotional film made by Paramount which includes some of the Schoedsack footage for this film
- "NY Times: The Lives of a Bengal Lancer". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
- p. 123 Richards, Jeffrey Visions of Yesterday Routledge, 30/08/1973
- "The 8th Academy Awards (1936) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-07.
- Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, The Inner Circle (London: Macmillan, 1959), p. 97.
- Robinson, Derek, Invasion 1940, London (2005) p291.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Lives of a Bengal Lancer.|
- The Lives of a Bengal Lancer at the TCM Movie Database
- The Lives of a Bengal Lancer at the Internet Movie Database
- The Lives of a Bengal Lancer at allmovie
- The Lives of a Bengal Lancer on Lux Radio Theater: April 10, 1939