Victorian Military Movies

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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby Hesmond » 29 Nov 2012 21:42

In reference to this topic one thing that springs to mind is after just having visited Spion Kop I am at a loss as to why Gandis involvement in the Boer War is completely missing from Attenbroughs film of his life ? Of all the scenes to cut out the showing of his involvement with the medical services ,and being in such a close proximity to Churchill on the battlefield of Spion Kop is a senecio to good to miss ? On the subject of other films I rember being shown scenes from a 1990s China film made concerning the British involvement in the 1840s ?
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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby Matt Easton » 25 Apr 2014 16:38

Mark wrote:The Four Feathers is good but get the later one with Robert Powell in.

Its a real pitty the film industry in the UK can no longer make such movies - they would prove too expensive - and Hollywood appears not to have any interest unless the movie is about an American :wink:


Though note that the 1878 Four Feathers had an American lead actor (Beau Bridges being convincingly British) and the 2002 version had an Australian lead actor (Heath Ledger) and an American lead actress (Kate Hudson).
I know all three versions fairly well, but only recently acquired a copy of the 1978 version on DVD and it has reminded me that it really is a good and significantly different version of the story. I think it's nice when they bother to change key elements of a remake. Though I was more than a little confused about when the 1978 version was supposed to be taking place, because it looks like the Omdurman campaign in terms of kit etc, but it was clearly supposed to be set slightly earlier.
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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby bif » 26 Sep 2014 22:20

I know it's an "old' thread, but that's most of the site ? No one has mentioned, amongst the military-related films, two of my favorites. May I recommend "Prisoner of Zenda" (the b&w with Colman) or "Mountains of the Moon".
Enjoying my travels thru the past, Bif
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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby Josh&Historyland » 27 Sep 2014 01:18

Hesmond wrote:On the subject of other films I rember being shown scenes from a 1990s China film made concerning the British involvement in the 1840s ?


Sounds like Tai Pan 1986.

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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby bill wright » 27 Sep 2014 23:33

Just following on from the latest thread, to add that the 1990 movie on the 1st China War is a big production and, needless to say, shows the filthy white imperialists in a bad light. It has nothing to do with "Tai-Pan" but is a history of the 1st China War
through Chinese eyes. Unfortunately it seems impossible to locate in the West, though I`m sure dvd shops in Hong Kong must
stock it.......Among imperial movies the big league include the Korda version of the "Four Feathers" with John Clements and Ralph Richardson (shot partly on location in the Sudan) and also its twin, "The Drum" set in a 1920s North-West Frontier with
Raymond Massey as the evil native villain (and partly filmed in India). "Zulu" and "Zulu Dawn" are too well-known. There is a
lovely print of "King of the Khyber Rifles" starring Tyrone Power now on youtube to which I have added a few details of its production. Not a great film but I`ve seen worse. "Gunga Din" with Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks Jnr is another terrific boys own NW Frontier epic with evil Eduardo Cianelli telling his fanatical Kali followers to "kill for the love of killing". My favourite imperial epic is easily "The Charge of the Light Brigade" with Erroll Flynn; its history is all mixed up, and the charge is magnificently captured (and horses maimed), but despite its inaccuracies the film presents the Indian Mutiny happening first and its depiction of the Siege of Cawnpore (re-named Chukoti) and the massacre at the Satichura Gat is remarkably vivid and moving........
Among the Victorian travel epics you list "Mountains of the Moon", the best known and very good. Its beaten as a film by the superb "Burke and Wills", a rare masterpiece of Australian Cinema, which is pretty accurate and visually stunning. Since these two explorers shared a terrible journey before their deaths in the desert, the last 30 mins is extremely moving. Easily the best thing Nigel Havers ever did, Jack Thompson is spot-on as the Irishman Wills, proud of his family`s service in the Crimean War, and for a bonus we get Greta Scaachi topless ! Its available on youtube for free !
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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby jf42 » 28 Sep 2014 17:04

How did I miss that?
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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby Noman » 10 Jun 2015 19:36

Id have to say a tie between "The Man Who WOuld be King" and "Breaker Morant"

CLose contenders are Khartoum; Zulu Dawn, Zulu and "The Four Feathers" 1930's version

Incidently In "The Man who would be king" there is a only a 3 year difference in age between Sean Connery and Michael CAine!
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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby HerbertKitch12 » 27 Jul 2015 13:08

Has anyone mentioned Khartoum? Not totally accurate but a good solid portrayal of the business from start to finish. Thought the early scenes of Hick's column and its subsequent massacre were very good.
Does anyone remember the Cecil Rhodes drama from the 1990s? Remember a couple of battles in that series but it involved the Boers against the Zulus rather than the British.
There was also one that I recall which must be set in the Victorian era. There is a column of British cavalry riding and they are ambushed, cant remember if its Russians or a Russian/Afghan coalition. The cavalry suffer heavy losses, reform and attack again. They are eventually reinforced by infantry and the last memory I have is that the British are assaulting the enemy in their high ground. The commander of the cavalry seemed to be the protagonist and I am sure he kills the enemy commander before being injured himself.

Does this ring any bells with anyone?

Always found the 2003 Four Feathers film to be well portrayed up until the second part of the battle of Abu Klea. The battle scene descends from a strong (though in places historically inaccurate) portrayal of Abu Klea into a complete farce. Dervishes dressed as Brit cavalry and able to play the tune of the cavalry advance for God's sake!
I could rant all day about it but I wont :)
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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby mike snook » 27 Jul 2015 14:45

Herbert

In fact Hicks was done over in wooded country and tried to fight in three brigade squares. So not even a remotely accurate rendering of the Battle of Shaikan. Other notable howlers Gordon and the Muhammad Ahmad never met. J D H Stewart did not leave Khartoum and go back again. Gladstone was not at the station when Gordon left: indeed he did not meet Gordon at all prior to his mission. Nobody ever told Wolseley to hang around in Egypt a bit. But Charlton is good (though massively oversized for little Charlie Gordon) and Larry is entertainingly sinister...'Is it not your own ring Gordooon Pasha?'

The 'Boers' you refer to in the 'Rhodes' mini-series were in fact the Pioneer Column of the British South Africa Company and that was the founding of Rhodesia. The Zulus you refer to were in fact the Ndebele (or Matabele in old money).

The description you give is, I rather suspect, of Eroll Flyn in The Charge of the Light Brigade (which has an opening half set in India). His buddy is David Niven. There is only a vague connection between history and that movie. Of course the 17th Lancers had never set foot (or hoof) in India.

I beg to state that there is not the slightest resemblance, not even for a second, between the real Battle of Abu Klea and the version in the Four Feathers!

Best wishes

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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby HerbertKitch12 » 27 Jul 2015 15:28

Hi Mike

I realised the Hicks battle wasn't accurate when I read Asher's Khartoum. I was more referring to the state of column before the Dervish attack. As I recall Hick's army had descended into nothing short of a rabble with many dying from thirst etc. I was aware that many of the things portrayed in the film did not happen but in the name of entertaining an audience the film needs scenes like Gordon and the Mahdi meeting to make the film more dramatic.
What do they say 'don't let history get in the way of a good story. As you say I think Heston was very good as Gordon. I do love the film in spite of the obvious inaccuracies and its a shame such colonial adventures don't exist on screen anymore. They do follow the general jist of history in the film though rather than reinventing it with a new historical twist eg the 7th cavalry arriving at Khartoum in the nick of time commanded by Chuck Norris turning up and saving Gordon.

2003 Four Feathers on the other hand is a totally different matter. Abu Klea is totally inaccurate as you say, when I said the first half of the battle was a good portrayal I was referring to the scene/idea of a regiment of British forming square and repelling a superior force of Arabs, the discipline, officers and organisation portrayed was very good in my opinion (note colours present another clanger). However the battle scene lets itself down with the stupid second half of the battle.
To be honest I stopped taking the film seriously historically from the moment that it is announced that 'a British garrison has been slaughtered to the man in the Sudan.' Started as it meant to go on :-/.
Last edited by HerbertKitch12 on 28 Jul 2015 12:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby Mark A. Reid » 27 Jul 2015 21:03

Wot The Kernel sez!

Of course as we all know, and as HerbertKitch12 has reminded us, Hollywood, or Ealing Studios or Ganesha Pictures, are not interested in making documentaries but in selling entertainment. Or, in its basest sense Bums on seats, Dearie, a phrase not heard often in the Halls of Academe or in the messes of the ( sniff! ) better regimental messes, by the way.

As we all realise what the movie-going public crave; Drama, Car Chases and Heaving Bosoms, perhaps we should start a thread detailing how often movies actually do " get it right, " whether intentionally or otherwise. Of course Charlton Heston was too tall, but didn't he capture some of Gordon's amalgam of humility, pride, cunning, innocence, etc.? Although Gordon Pasha and The Expected One never exchanged severed body parts over a cold drink, didn't the cinematic tension created on screen go a long way to establish their respective personalities? Not perfect of course but quite admirable in a story-telling sort of way?

For those of us enthralled with the " small change " of military history; the buttons & badges, etc. aren't we occasionally gob-smacked to find that by some fluke, the hero actually is wielding a Mark IVB ( India pattern ) sword knot in " Biggles Flies Undone? " I must have watched " Khartoum " a dozen times before I spotted, with an anorak's true thrill, that the Egyptian officer in one scene was actually wearing an Order of the Mejidie with the original narrow ribbon. Strewth! Even my wife managed a polite " How Extraordinary " when I brought it to her attention ( very perceptive woman that. )

Military advisors to films are often ignored because of financial or time restraints but I recall W.Y. Carman ( Bill ) regaling me with the lengths he went to in order to accurately present the soldiers in " Khartoum. " Krupp and Nordenfelt guns were borrowed from the Cairo Military Museum but Wolseley is still presented padding about Abu Simbel swathed in mess dress, clutching a chilled glass of Bollinger, because that's what the Director wanted. Even an expert can only do so much.

At the very least, cinematic epics like " The Four Feathers, " the 1917, 1939, 1977 or 2003 version, introduced a lot of us to a subject that continues to give us enormous pleasure, and not a few odd looks from our relatives. I have long ago given up grinding my teeth, and waking up my wife, by announcing that Biggles' sword knot is " All Wrong, dammit! " It also tends to annoy the cinema-goers in the seat behind us ...

Cheers,

Mark
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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby HerbertKitch12 » 28 Jul 2015 10:25

Mark will respond shortly, just re-read my appaling post from yesterday typed whilst rushing. Will amend on my lunch :D
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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby HerbertKitch12 » 29 Jul 2015 09:49

Great post Mark, I agree for the military pureists out there its made much better if they get the finer details correct. Its much better if they start with the basic details though.

Re the film I descriped I am pretty sure it wasn't charge of the light brigade. The film was in colour, I saw it around 1993 and I am sure there are mentions of Afghans and Russians. Of course the Errol Flynn film is black and white and the enemy is from a made up state/country as I recall.

Anyway if anybody has any ideas that would be great :-)
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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby jf42 » 01 Aug 2015 00:44

A propos a director's concerns over-riding his military advisors, I think of comparitively recent years the biscuit must go to Tony Richardson who was concerned that the audience might be confused by British cavalry being dressed in blue jackets when everyone knew the British wore red coats, as did the infantry. After a tussle with the Mollos who had put so much into producing costumes that were authentic, the compromise reached was that the 17th Lancers, and Nolan, should charge down the Valley of Death wearing pink 'cherrybum' overalls.

The film is of course essentially a 1960s cartoon but still looks fantastic. Charles Wood's invented Victorian dialogue conjours up the atmosphere and the idiocies of the time brilliantly. In that regard, Trevor Howard's Lord Cardigan is particularly fine. And even if David Hemmings is far too good looking for Nolan and his posture as he points down the North Valley is a cinematic chimaera- I grew up thinking THAT'S how it happened and it will take a lot to shake that image from my mind. Print the legend!
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Re: Victorian Military Movies

Postby mike snook » 01 Aug 2015 13:43

'Do ask Sir George Brown to stop all that view-hullooing'. Marvellous.

I also like what I think is meant to be Colin Campbell: 'Let nae man gae taking the wounded to the rear, or let his name be stuck up in his parish keeeerk!' Or words to that effect.

And I concur entirely about Trevor H as Lord C: a truly splendid acting performance.

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