Royal Flash (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Royal Flash
Directed by Richard Lester
Produced by Dennis O'Dell
David V. Picker
Written by George MacDonald Fraser
Based on the novel by George MacDonald Fraser
Starring Malcolm McDowell
Oliver Reed
Alan Bates
Florinda Bolkan
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • October 1975 (1975-10)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $4,040,000[1]

Royal Flash is a 1975 film based on George MacDonald Fraser's second Flashman novel, Royal Flash. It starred Malcolm McDowell as Flashman. Additionally, Oliver Reed appeared in the role of Otto von Bismarck, Alan Bates as Rudi von Sternberg, and Florinda Bolkan played Lola Montez. Fraser wrote the screenplay and the film was directed by Richard Lester.

Though it got good reviews for its performances and action scenes, Royal Flash only saw limited release in theatres.

Plot summary[edit]

The film begins with Flashman making a patriotic speech to the boys of Rugby School framed by a giant Union Flag, in a scene which appears to be a parody of the opening sequence in the 1970 film Patton. There is a brief flashback to the events of the original Flashman, with the head of the Rugby School (Michael Hordern) recounting Flashman's exploits in Afghanistan.

The film then follows the plot of the book, which itself largely derives from The Prisoner of Zenda. Flashman is forced by Otto von Bismarck to impersonate a Danish prince, who is about to marry a German princess (Britt Ekland). Bismarck exacts this retribution partly in revenge for his humiliation at the hands of Flashman in London; Flashman stole Bismarck's mistress Lola Montez, then manoeuvred him into boxing against a professional boxer, John Gully (played by Henry Cooper), at a house party. Bismarck does not wish the Princess to marry a Dane, since this may tilt the balance on the Schleswig-Holstein Question and interfere with his plans for a united Germany.[2]


Production notes[edit]

Flashman, the first novel of The Flashman Papers series, had been published in 1968 and attracted the interest of film producers. At one stage Richard Lester was to direct, but the necessary financing could not be secured. However Lester enjoyed the novel and then hired George MacDonald Fraser to adapt The Three Musketeers for two successful films in the early 1970s. This enabled Lester to obtain finance for a Flashman movie.

Royal Flash was the second Flashman novel, and had been published in 1970. The New York Times said "Mr MacDonald Fraser has considerable narrative skill... most ingeniously plotted and often hilariously funny."[3]

The film was one of the first produced by executive David Picker following his resignation from being head of United Artists in 1973.[4]

At one stage John Alderton was reportedly considered to play Flashman.[5]

The film was shot partly on location in Bavaria.[6]

It introduced actors Bob Peck, Bob Hoskins, and Christopher Cazenove. Bob Peck appeared in the original British TV series Edge of Darkness as Craven. Christopher Cazenove juggled British and American TV: he first began with The Duchess of Duke Street, followed by playing John Forsythe's brother on the nighttime soap Dynasty. Bob Hoskins appeared in the original Pennies From Heaven followed by British and American films, including the role of Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.


The Observer said the film "leave one breathless not so much with enchantment as with boredom".[7] The Wall Street Journal said it was "disappointing".[8]

Home media[edit]

Although the film was released on VHS there was no United Kingdom DVD for years, though there was a North American (Region 1) version. A UK DVD and Blu-ray was eventually released on 20 May 2013 by Odeon Entertainment.[9] Twilight Time released the film on a limited edition Blu-ray disc in 2013.


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p257
  2. ^ "ON THE SET OF "ROYAL FLASH".". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 26 February 1975. p. 27. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Royal Flash" by RICHARD BOSTON. New York Times 18 Oct 1970: BR3.
  4. ^ "Warner's to Distribute Films of David Picker" Los Angeles Times 21 Nov 1974: h23.
  5. ^ John Alderton at Casting Calls
  6. ^ "Movie fan's guide: Photogenic Bavaria" Jim; Higgins, Shirley. Chicago Tribune 12 Oct 1975: c11.
  7. ^ "Cut-price Errol Flynn" Milne, Tom. The Observer [London (UK)] 13 July 1975: 21.
  8. ^ "Victorian England Is Skewered Again" by JOY GOULD BOYUM. Wall Street Journal 6 Oct 1975: 12.
  9. ^

External links[edit]