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Lives of a Bengal Lancer, Monday March 3 at 6:10 pm (EST)


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I just thought I'd mention that TCM will be broadcasting this big budget adventure from Paramount, one of the huge hits at the 1935 box office.

 

While not a channel premiere, this will be the first time that the film has been shown on TCM in around nine years, I believe.

 

And it's a goodie, in my opinion, with Gary Cooper and Franchot Tone as antagonistic brother officers in one of those legendary last outpost of the British Empire settings, this one somewhere around, naturally, the Khyber Pass. (They got around Coop's very American manner by calling his character a Canadian).

 

No need to go into the plot but there's plenty of fun with the likes of Sir Guy Standing and C. Aubrey Smith in command, not to mention Canada's own Douglass Dumbrille (best remembered, perhaps, for later taking on both Mr. Deeds and Groucho Marx in the movies), this time cast as the culturally educated Mohammed Khan, their diabolical enemy. (This man is into bamboo stick torture when he captures his enemy and wants information out of them- nuff said).

 

Yes, the film is hopelessly dated in its jingoistic presentation of the British Empire and its intolerance towards its native subjects. Once you get past that, however, I think it's a lot of fun, with Cooper and Tone (probably my favourite Franchot Tone performance) both in great form. Action, humour, romance, it's all here, folks! The film remains one of the clear highlights in the career of director Henry Hathaway, who would make many more films with Cooper, but none of them, in my opinion, quite as satisfactory as this one.

 

It was the box office (not to mention critical) success of *Lives of a Bengal Lancer* that influenced Warners Bros. into filming *The Charge of the Light Brigade*, another big thundering action British Empire romp, the following year, and, three years after that, RKO would join the same genre sweepstakes with the immortal *Gunga Din*. (One of the best of all would come, appropriately, from England, with Alexander Korda's *The Four Feathers*, also in 1939).

 

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Here's what Wiki had to say, James:

 

Among the filming locations were Lone Pine, Calif., Buffalo Flats in Malibu, Calif., the Paramount Ranch in Agoura, Calif., and the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif. For the climactic half-hour battle sequence at the end of the movie, an elaborate set was built in the Iverson Gorge, part of the Iverson Movie Ranch, to depict Mogala, the mountain stronghold of Mohammed Khan.

 

Of course, there are also a lot of outtakes from India, some of it used as obvious rear projection. Obvious as it may be, the film does have atmosphere.

 

 

i]Wall.jpg

 

Wonderful shot, dripping with a feel of authenticity, from Lives of a Bengal Lancer

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skimpole, Bengal Lancer is a 109 min. film so it would end just before 8pm (EST).

 

Still, I agree, it's a weird time for the film to start. I don't think that TCM normally has films beginning at any time than one of the four quarters of an hour.

 

Could it be a misprint and it will really begin at 6pm (EST)? Dunno.

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I agree, sweetsmell. Tone's performance in Bengal Lancer is far superior to that in Mutiny on the Bounty. Obviously, Mayer and MGM had a lot more pull with the Motion Picture Academy to get all three of the stars of Bounty nominated as best actor.

 

With the initial antagonism established between the characters played by Tone and Cooper, which gradually mellows, some might term Lives of a Bengal Lancer a '30s version of a buddy film before that term became popular.

 

Some of the film's best moments occur when one of the two leads tries to rankle the other, particularly after Tone discovers, much to his delight, that Cooper can't stand the sounds of a snake charmer's flute.

 

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!

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Actually, in the 30s there were quite.a few films that had a buddy theme; these go back.to the immensely popular.Flagg/Quirt characters of WHAT PRICE GLORY. Another notable example.wouod be the main characters in THE FRONT PAGE. Both highly influential thrroughout the decade.

 

Since.MGM had Tone undet contract, they eould have made.more of an effort to have him.acknowledged by the.Acsdemy, than would have Paramount for someone on loan.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Mar 2, 2014 5:45 PM

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Thanks for mentioning those other British Empire period titles of the '30s, Arturo, but without the success of Lives of a Bengal Lancer you have to wonder how many others would have followed.

 

With Richard Cromwell cast as the colonel's son who takes a shining to Gary Cooper's career soldier named McGregor, Bengal Lancer is, to the best of my knowledge, the first Hollywood adventure to adopt a "soldiers three" format. Franchot Tone will, in fact, needle Cooper about the young soldier's idolatry of him by nicknaming Cooper "Mother McGregor." One could ponder as to whether Tone's character is, in fact, a bit jealous of the hero-worship accorded to Coop by the youngster.

 

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The two most significant soldiers three films to follow in the wake of Bengal Lancer would be a 1939 reunion of Cooper and director Henry Hathaway in The Real Glory (Coop teamed with David Niven and Broderick Crawford) and, of course, the boisterous and legendary Gunga Din of the same year (Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.).

 

Later, in the early '50s, MGM would have a Gunga Din remake of sorts (at least, in spirit) called Soldiers Three, frequently broadcast on TCM. The magic of the original was decidedly missing in this somewhat lame venture.

 

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Hero-worshiping Richard Cromwell looking at Gary Cooper while cynical, pipe smoking Franchot Tone is probably trying to think up a crack at Coop's expense.

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here's my theory about the 6:10 starting time.

 

TCM has scheduled a variety of topics for 31 Days of Oscar. today's topic/feature is Oscar Nominees of 1935 for Best Picture and this started Sunday night at 8 PM. funny thing is, there were 12 (count 'em, TWELVE) nominations for Best Picture in 1935. a close look at the running times for the pics shows that toward the end of the list of films to be shown, there wasn't enough time for Lives to be shown using the :15 minute rule. so, in order to make things fit, Lives is starting at 6:10 so that evening programming can start exactly at 8 PM (EST).

 

anyway, that's my theory.

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I am planning on watching this really good movie today. One of those great movies eminently worth watching again and again. I remember watching the TV series in the 50's as a little guy called THE 77TH BENGAL LANCERS and liking it though it's all pretty hazy as I was not very old.

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Yes, I agree, this film deserved better.

 

The DVD available of Lives of a Bengal Lancer in Universal's Gary Cooper Collection is far easier on the eyes, sharper with far more contrast than the print shown yesterday by TCM. It does look a little dark in spots, though.

 

The truth is, though, I've NEVER seen a really good print of this particular film. They all look like prints that have been kicked around the TV circuits for too many years.

 

The DVD version of the film may be as good as we're ever going to get by default. But it has the usual graininess of a lot of '30s productions that can be a bit of a curse you have to bear.

 

I've never seen prints of Bengal Lancer that look nearly as good, for example, as another big budget Paramount-Cooper '30s adventure collaboration, Beau Geste.

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I wonder if Universal's upgraded master (DVD released in 2005) was lost in the 2008 fire? Has there ever been a reckoning of what motion picture-related material was lost, in addition to the Decca and other label masters?

 

Universal should still have the 35mm dupe fine grain that was used to make the EMKA (MCA) TV negative (I have a beautiful print from the early 70's).

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Ray, I don't know if you've seen the DVD release of Bengal Lancer. If so, how does it compare to your version?

 

In any event, I can't envision Universal putting much of an effort into trying to come up with a better print or, heaven forbid, restoring it. But one never knows. Beau Geste was released as an individual DVD after being part of the Gary Cooper Collection with Bengal Lancer, among others. But Geste was already a good looking image, to my eyes, at least, even when it was in the Cooper Collection.

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