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The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) Poster

Trivia

Unlike the rest of Errol Flynn's blockbuster films, because of the use of trip wires--a practice later banned by the studios--which resulted in many horses being killed and injured, this film was never re-released by Warner Brothers.
For the filming of the climactic charge, 125 horses were trip-wired. Of those, 25 were killed outright or had to be put down afterward. The resulting public furor caused the US Congress to pass laws to protect animals used in motion pictures. Star Errol Flynn, a horseman, was so outraged by the number of horses injured and killed during the charge, and by director Michael Curtiz's seeming indifference to the carnage, that at one point as he was arguing with Curtiz about it, he could contain himself no more and actually physically attacked him. They were pulled apart before any serious damage was done, but it put a permanent freeze on their relationship; even though they made subsequent films together, they despised each other and would speak only when necessary on the set.
The original script used the real-life siege of a British fort at Cawnpore (and subsequent massacre of its survivors) during the Sepoy Rebellion - a nationwide mutiny of Indian soldiers in the British army - as the reason for the famous Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava during the Crimean War. However, shortly before the film was started, someone pointed out that the Sepoy Rebellion took place three years AFTER the Crimean War. The fort's name was hurriedly changed to Chukoti, and instead of mutinous Indian soldiers, the besiegers were changed to tribesmen of a fictitious warlord called Surat Khan.
The success of this film set the seal on Errol Flynn's superstardom.
During the filming of the charge sequence, a stuntman was killed when he fell off his horse and landed on a broken sword that was lying on the battlefield. It was unfortunately wedged in such a position that its blade was sticking straight up and the stuntman landed directly on top of it. There was a rumor that another stuntman came back from lunch drunk and during the charge slid off his horse and died when he broke his neck in the fall, but that has never been confirmed.
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It was during a Parkinson (1971) interview that Errol Flynn's good friend David Niven revealed that during the shooting of the charge, Flynn was busy on a horse during a break applying makeup with one hand while holding a mirror in the other. A stuntman playing a cavalryman decided to "pock" the horse up the behind with his lance--the animal bucked, throwing Flynn to the ground. He got to his feet and asked who had done that. The stuntman took the "credit" for it, thinking that this would only add to Flynn's embarrassment. However, Flynn dragged the man off his horse and gave him a sound beating. They were the best of friends after that.
The film was originally set entirely in India, but the Crimean War was added due to fears by Warner Brothers that the story was too similar to Paramount's The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935).
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In the famous charge scene, Errol Flynn, playing Capt. Vickers, is thrown to the ground when his horse is shot out from underneath him, jumps back up and leaps on a passing riderless horse. Although Flynn supposedly did the horse fall himself--he was a good horseman and liked to do his own stunts when possible--the man leaping up from the ground and mounting the passing horse is not Flynn but his longtime stunt double Buster Wiles.
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Scenes from this film were used in the 1983 music video "The Trooper" by heavy-metal band Iron Maiden.
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Opening credits Dedication: To the officers and men of the Light Brigade who died victorious in a gallant charge at Balaklava for Queen and Country A.D. 1856.
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The second of nine movies made together by Warner Brothers' romantic couple Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn.
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During the climactic charge, the musical score includes several samples from Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture"--written to commemorate an entirely different battle in a different war which, unlike the battle depicted in this film, Russia won.
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During filming, director Michael Curtiz--a Hungarian whose command of the English language left a lot to be desired--exclaimed, "Bring on the empty horses!", meaning "riderless horses". David Niven would later use this phrase as the title of his autobiography. See also Casablanca (1942).
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Although the early scenes in the fictional country of Suristan have often been described as irrelevant to the story, they could be seen as part of the "Great Game" that was fought for nearly a century between the British and Russian empires for control in the Middle East.
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The poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, is superimposed over the action in the final scenes of the film.

Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred."

"Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns," he said; Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them Volley'd and thunder'd;

When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wonder'd. Honor the charge they made! Honor the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred.
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Opening credits prologue: The world is indebted to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria of Great Britain, for perpetuating in an epic poem one of the most distinguished events in history conspicuous for sheer valor... "THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE"
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Finnish censorship visa register # 020217.
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The scripture Colonel Campbell is reading before the Chukchi survivors are massacred is from Psalm 90.
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