33. The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)

Film 17 in C4 Top 100 War Films

Ooh right, the Charge of the Light Brigade – so that’s the Crimean War, Balaklava, maybe a bit of Florence Nightingale too,  yeah? India, you say? Yep, India…

The film begins with a group of Lancers visiting a local rajah with a very smart beard, Surat Khan. After Errol Flynn saves his life by shooting dead a leopard, Khan tells him he will always be in his debt.

Errol, and his friend David Niven, get to Calcutta where Flynn has left his fiancée. I don’t know how long he’s been away, but in the meantime, she’s fallen in love with his brother. When his brother tells him, the men have a bit of a snippy argument and decide they won’t talk to each other again.

Within a few minutes, the rajah has allied himself with Russians, since the British government has cut some funding he was depending on. Ah, Russians. I was wondering about them, considering I was expecting it to be set in Russia. Maybe all the Lancers will be moved out to the Crimea now? No?

Basically the film is 2 hours long and 1 hour 40 mins are set in India. So by the time they are sent to Crimea, I was close to giving up. However, the charge scene is pretty awesome, but it doesn’t make up for the rest of the film, which is about as historically accurate as Up Pompeii. The storyline is dreadful, and at one stage includes cutesy children and some of the worst overacting I’ve seen in some time. Even the swashbuckling isn’t up to Errol Flynn’s usual standard. Plus David Niven is Errol Flynn’s friend, so I knew immediately that the poor man was doomed.

I won’t be watching again in a hurry, though I did give an extra point for the spectacular ending.


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