On the mountainous frontier between British India and Afghanistan, circa 1860s, Zarak Khan kisses Salma, the youngest wife of his father, Haji Khan. Outraged, his father orders Zarak to be flogged to death but spares his life at the urging of an elderly Mullah. Zarak now leaves his village and becomes a notorious outlaw, prompting the British to assign a Major Ingram to capture him. Zarak and Ingram have several encounters, developing a grudging respect for each other. When Ingram is captured by Ahmad, one of Zarak's rivals, Zarak risks his life to save the British officer. Written by
dinky-4 of Minneapolis
They don't make 'em like this anymore, and more's the pity. It's hokey, contrived, politically incorrect, and laced with clichés, but it blissfully transports one back to that innocent, popcorn-scented time in the balcony of the local Bijou when Technicolor images flickering across a silver screen could sweep one into a magical world of harem girls and charging horsemen.
Structurally, the film is a bit of a mess, stitching together a forbidden romance between star-crossed lovers, a stiff-upper-lip adventure about civilized British soldiers subduing pagan hordes, and a personal drama about the growing respect between two enemy combatants. While the plot is a mishmash, however, it's never dull, it moves along at a merry clip, and it fills the CinemaScope screen with lively, colorful, filmed-in-Morocco images.
Michael Wilding and Patrick McGoohan are properly British, Anita Ekberg never looked more glamorous, and Victor Mature was born to play just this sort of thing. Lean back, set your brain at "Idle," and enjoy!
(Incidentally, Victor Mature is flogged twice in this movie. The one which occurs in the first reel is especially vivid and it ranks 52nd on a list published in the book, "Lash! The Hundred Great Scenes of Men Being Whipped in the Movies.")
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