The year is 1947, the British are on the verge of finally leaving India. Amongst the few who are sorry to see the British leave are the Anglo-Indians, half British and half Indian, for they are going to miss the patronage of their white cousins, the job reservations, and the important status and positions they currently hold. The British, quite frankly, do not think well of Anglo-Indians, nor do the Indians. Victoria Jones is one such Anglo-Indian, a WAC in the British Army, her father a railway engine driver, and her mom a housewife. She is close to another Anglo-Indian, Patrick Taylor, but changes her mind about him as he harbors deep hatred for the Indians. She witnesses Col. Rodney Savage instruct his soldiers to pour filthy water and garbage at the hands of untouchables on high-caste men and women who are protesting by laying down on the railway tracks to prevent trains from moving. Repulsed and shocked at this, she turns to Ranjit Singh Kassi, a Sikh, and longs to be Indian. She... Written by
After the restaurant dance, the soldiers speak Pushtu (native to north Pakistan and Afghanistan) to Ava Gardner's and Stewart Granger's characters. See more »
When Savage is first in Taylor's office giving him orders about the trains, he says, "One of you will have to be in close touch with me at all times so that my trolley patrols do not run into unscheduled trains." He says the word "unscheduled" using the American "sk" pronunciation, but as an Englishman he would have pronounced it using the British "sh" sound. See more »
The character played by the great Lionel Jeffries is clearly identified as a Captain with three shoulder pips. But in the credits he is listed as Lt. Graham McDaniel who, had he really been a Lieutenant would only have worn two pips. See more »
This film could have been wonderful if some of the parts had been given to Indian actors. For instance, Hollywood and British studios make believe that Indians speak English in a sing-song manner. They might have heavy accents but few speak English that way. Freda Jackson's role as "the Sadani" (could it have been an ignorant variation of "Sardarni"?) was incredibly stupid casting in that she spoke impeccable English for a middle-class Sikh lady. This apart Jackson was able to dominate her screen time.
I would have liked to dismiss this film as a below average film but for the incredible performance of Ava Gardner who towers over all else in the movie. Take her accent--for an American, there was no trace of her origins when she spoke. She alone looked real with raven black hair in a sari draped in foppish manner--after all she was an Anglo-Indian. Had she worn well like an Aishwarya Rai, Cukor would have got it wrong.
Cukor deserves full credit for choosing Gardner for the role and for capturing the ambiance of romantic North Western Railways, its first class coaches, the engines and goods wagons. A keen observer will note that some of the shots of goods wagons showed vintage wagons, while others showed contemporary ones.
Though shot in Pakistan, the film caught the Indian ambiance perfectly, right up to the Railway quarters for its staff.
Ava Gardner, it is only too evident, performed well under the guidance of good directors as John Houston. This film and "Night of Iguana" are my personal favourites among her films.
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