Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Charge Of The Light Brigade

The subtitle of this should be, "White Guys Who Can't Date"
When I was in my late teens and early 20's, my socially backward pals and I would go to the Bleecker Cinema to watch revival films like this (lots of Marx Brothers too) instead of trying to pick up women. Ultimately with most of us, we let assertive women pick us up. Some of the group got to know the films so well, even in a video tapeless age we (me especially) could recite some of the key dialogue along with Errol. "Men of the 27th Lancers, the Surat Khan is in the field, the same Surat Khan who massacred the men and women at Chukoti..."

In 1854, Major Geoffrey Vickers (Errol Flynn) and his brother, Captain Perry Vickers (Patric Knowles), are stationed at the fictional city of Chukoti in India, with the 27th Lancers of the British Army during the British Raj. Both love the same woman, Elsa (Olivia de Havilland).

The regiment is betrayed by a treacherous local tributary rajah, Surat Khan (C. Henry Gordon), who massacres the inhabitants of Chukoti (mainly the dependents of the lancers), and allies with the Russians, whom the British are fighting in the Crimean War.

The love triangle and the quest for vengeance are both resolved at the Battle of Balaklava. Aware that Surat Khan is visiting the Russian positions opposite the 27th Lancers, Geoffrey Vickers secretly replaces the written orders of Sir Charles Macefield (Henry Stephenson) to the commander of the Light Brigade, Sir Benjamin Warrenton (Nigel Bruce). Vickers orders the famous suicidal attack. He writes a note to Macefield, explaining his actions, and orders his brother to deliver it, sparing him from almost certain death.

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