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Friday, November 27, 2015

North West Frontier (1959)

In 1905 at the North West Frontier of British India (now Pakistan), a group of Islamic rebels overthrow the ruling Maharajah (Frank Olegario) who is Hindu. But the Rajah has sent his young son (Govind Raja Ross) to safety under the care of his American governess (Lauren Bacall) and a British soldier (Kenneth More). But the danger isn't over yet as the Islamic rebels will stop at nothing to kill the future Rajah. Bacall called it a "good little movie" and that just about sums it up. It's an old fashioned adventure along the lines of films like THE FOUR FEATHERS and GUNGA DIN. Some critics have called it a blatant reworking of John Ford's STAGECOACH set on a train instead of a stagecoach and in India instead of the American West. Since the credits say adapted from a screenplay by Frank Nugent, who wrote 9 films for John Ford (though not STAGECOACH), it sounds plausible. It's robustly directed by J. Lee Thompson (GUNS OF NAVARONE) and though the film's "villain" is a Muslim (which makes it topical), the script doesn't portray him as one dimensional. He's allowed to score some valid points off the British colonialists. With Herbert Lom, Wilfrid Hyde White, Ursula Jeans, I.S. Johar and Eugene Deckers.

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