“The Lives of a Bengal Lancer” is in Hollywood’s best tradition. Paramount made this film after buying the book of that title from its author, Mr. Yeats-Brown, the Englishman. The only thing left of the book is the title, but the film nevertheless emerges as one of the most exciting adventure dramas of the current season.
“Bengal Lancer” is a thriller which concerns itself with a brave band of English fighters who watch over part of England’s empire in India. They are a gentlemanly lot, brave, honest, willing to die for dear old England and and seem at times almost anxious to undergo torture to prove their valor. In incident the film rambles a bit but never becomes less than absorbing.
You are shown this group of Englishmen as they are harassed, and pursued by the nasty natives of Afghanistans who have the bad taste to object to being vassals of the British Empire. These dark skinned lads show their disapproval by fighting the colonial troops and whenever they capture an Englishman they put him through such tortures as removing his eyes with hot pokers, pushing lighted slivers of wood between the fingernails and sundry other forms of discomfort.
AFGHANS NOT FILM FANS
Paramount wishing to be fair to the Afghans, intimates that the tortures were inflicted only to gain military secrets so that the English might be defeated in battle. Well, the Afghans are not movie fans and it is perfectly safe to show them in an unfavorable light.
But to get back to the plot. There are all sorts of complications, including a Russian female spy; Colonel Stone, the commander who is so cold and detached that he refuses to become excited when he learns that the natives are about to operate on his son; Lieut. Stone, son of the commander, who almost gives away the military secrets, but everything leads to a great battle when the English successfully defend the fortress against the prevailing odds in such movie situations. The love interest is very slight.
Gary Cooper as one of the heroes is up to standard and the same may be said for Sir Guy Standing as the colonel, Franchot. Tone as one of the gayer young fighters, and for Richard Cromwell who as the alleged “weakling” is the most convincing of all.
Elissa Landi, the German actress, was chosen by R.K.O. to show that they too could make an operatic picture in the “One Night of Love” manner. For its vehicle R.K.O. picked “Enter Madame,” adapted from a play. It may be seen at the Palace.
“Enter Madame” has its moments Miss Landi as a temperamental opera star and Gary Grant as the rich young man enamored of her, are both very fine indeed. The plot creaks as it unfolds the disappointment of Mr. Grant who, after marrying the opera star, finds himself merely one of her followers, but not one who can be ordered around. He rebels and almost leaves but in the nick of time Elissa reforms and all ends well. The glaring weakness of the film is not the acting but the dialogue which strains for effects and where it attempts to be very, very clever is simply flat.
Frederic Cerfbeer, Franco-Jewish Consul to Santo Domingo, had a shipload of food sent to Cayes at his own expense when he witnessed, in 1826, the plight of the victims of an earthquake.