NORTH WEST FRONTIER
(director: J. Lee Thompson; screenwriters: Robin Estridge/Frank Nugent/story by Patrick Ford and Will Price; cinematographer: Geoffrey Unsworth; editor: Freddie Wilson; music: Mischa Spoliansky; cast: Kenneth More(Captain Scott), Lauren Bacall (Catherine Wyatt), Herbert Lom (van Leyden), Ursula Jeans (Lady Windham), I.S. Johar (Gupta), Wilfrid Hyde White (Bridey), Ian Hunter (Sir John Windham), Govind Raja Ross (Prince Kishan), Jack Gwillim (Brigadier Ames), Eugene Deckers (Peters); Runtime: 129; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Marcel Hellman; 20th Century Fox; 1959)
“A timeless, exciting, no-nonsense, old-fashioned colonial adventure story set after the turn of the 20th century.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A timeless, exciting, no-nonsense, old-fashioned colonial adventure story set after the turn of the 20th century. Veteran British director J. Lee Thompson (“10 to Midnight”/”King Solomon’s Mines“) gets it right, from the great performances to the action-packed railroad chase scenes through hostile territory in India. Writers Frank Nugent and Robin Estridge base it on the solid story by Patrick Ford (son of John) and Will Price.In 1905, the professional British soldier Captain Scott (Kenneth More) is trusted by Governor Sir John Windham (Ian Hunter), in British-controlled India, to escort to safety the orphaned 6-year-old Hindu Prince Kishan (Govind Raja Ross), the son of the maharajah and the holy figurehead to the Hinduse. He’s led away from from a bloody religious war between Hindus and Moslems. His father was slaughtered in his palace by rebel tribal Muslims, who raid the fort city of Hasarabad and threaten the prince’s life. After the prince is brought to safety in the Governor’s citadel, Scott must rely on an ancient discarded train resting in the railroad yard and rebuilt by the engineer for the journey. It will take the prince 300 miles to safety in Kalapur, where his followers will take him to Delhi. The diverse passengers include the attractive American widow governess of the prince Catherine Wyatt (Lauren Bacall), the Governor’s loyal wife Lady Windham (Ursula Jeans), the Governor’s socially awkward elderly aide Mr. Bridey (Wilfrid Hyde White), an aggressive arms dealer named Peters (Eugene Deckers), an ill-natured Muslim half-breed Dutch reporter named Van Leyden (Herbert Lom), the jolly native train engineer Gupta (I.S. Johar) and two armed native soldiers. The one-car train moves slowly over the dry plains and is faced with constant danger from raiding Muslim tribes, as the tracks are sabotaged and a traitor is aboard who aims to assassinate the prince. Excellent storytelling prevails. It was filmed on location on an epic scale.
REVIEWED ON 2/1/2017 GRADE: B