Never let timing get in the way of a good story. Queen Victoria is mentioned and shown as reigning monarch dating the period to before her death. Yet, khaki service dress was not adopted until after the end of the second Anglo-Boer War more than a year later. While some units has used similar dress earlier, none was issued in Britain. See more »
This film does have an interesting set-up but never takes full advantage of it. There's nothing clever about the beginning, wherein British Fusilier Captain Lawford is court martialed for being a Russian spy and imprisoned, but things get intriguing when he escapes and joins the military again, inspired by the idea that it would be the last place the authorities would be expected to look for him. Now an enlisted man, he has to hide his abilities and keep a low profile, but circumstances put his masquerade in jeopardy. If written properly, this could be an effective and suspenseful story, but not so here. The film goes off into a simplistic hero-redeemed thread that seems more concerned with using MGM's access to the real Khyber Pass in Afghanistan than with the complications of Lawford's plight. A pity. But for fans of British Colonial War movies this one does have a fairly well-done and believable action climax. How the producer coaxed MGM into shooting on location in Afghanistan is the only interesting question regarding this movie. Or maybe one more: how did Lawford's character escape from military prison? We never see this and it's never explained. Just another potentially suspenseful scene not taken advantaged of by the filmmakers.
Lawford? He's handsome, tanned and sports a fine moustache, but he was never leading man material and proves it again here. He's too reticent an actor; there's little energy or passion visible from him. The role is that of a man wrongly and ruinously convicted who must submerge himself in a lower (military) station, then rise up and redeem himself when occasion demands it. A role requiring a mix of outrage and tightly-coiled intensity. Not the role for a dapper "cocktails anyone?" kind of smooth lounge loafer. Lawford is directed to treat all this as if slightly disturbed from missing a dinner engagement.
Richard Greene, in the second lead, is far better suited to Lawford's role, but alas, he gets The Other Hero role: the one that doesn't get the girl and gets saved by the Big Hero (Lawford). Janice Rule and Leo G. Carroll pop up here and there, and Sean McClory as Lawford's likable enlisted buddy is more enjoyable than anybody else, but disappears before the film even gets to its big action climax. And John Abbott is one of the top-billed actors, yet he disappears early on. Then again, not much should really be expected considering the film is scored by studio hack Alberto Colombo, written by the mediocre Leon Gordon (this being his last movie) and helmed by an inconsequential English television director named Allan Davis.
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