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Monday, August 17, 2015

Thunder In The East (1953)

Set in 1947 India shortly after its independence from British rule. An American gun runner (Alan Ladd) arrives in the small province of Gandahar to sell guns to the local Maharajah (Charles Lung) to fight back against the guerrillas who are planning to raid the town and most likely massacre its inhabitants. But the Raj's prime minister (Charles Boyer) adheres to the non violent principals of Gandhi and refuses to resort to violence against his own people. Based on the novel THE RAGE OF THE VULTURE by Alan Moorehead. This is a real sleeper that should be better known. Filmed in 1951 but not released until 1953, the film begs the question: while it's fine to die for your beliefs, do you have the right to make others die for your beliefs? As directed by Charles Vidor (GILDA), the tensions builds ever so slowly so when the final attack comes, it's such a relief to have what we've been dreading finally happen. Surprisingly for an action film, it allows for some good performances. Ladd is Ladd but Deborah Kerr as a blind girl, Corinne Calvet as a Frenchwoman of dubious reputation and Boyer as the committed pacifist all have an opportunity to breathe some real life into their characters. A fine score by Hugo Friedhofer. With Cecil Kellaway, John Williams and John Abbott.

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