I have just watched this little gem for the first time since my
childhood. Of course then, I didn't know much about classic cinema, it
was just a ripping good yarn with funny and pointed dialogue.
With the benefit of a life in cinema behind me, it is much, much better than I remember. Think somewhere midway between 'The Lady Vanishes' and Ford's 'Stagecoach'. Perhaps this should not be so surprising as the writer of the original screenplay from which this is adapted is Frank Nugent, scenarist of 'Fort Apache', 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon' and other classic, if less apposite John Ford films.
So from Nugent comes the 'army against the Indians' and from the very British situation come the characters who could easily have stepped out of a Hitchcock comedy. In fact there is a moment in the film which is almost identical to a moment in 'Lady Vanishes'. Kenneth More is handing out the guns and the lovable English colonialist, Bridie (Wilfred Hyde White perfectly cast)reluctantly takes one, and then admits that he once won something in a fairground.
This is almost identical to the scene towards the end of 'The Lady Vanishes' when, again, the guns are being handed out and Naunton Wayne, as Caldicott admits to having won something at a fairground.
Of course, J Lee Thompson is not Hitchcock, so there are some lesser moments, but really this is so much better than so much of the hyperbolic tedium of modern cinema.
There is a lot more in this than one would either hope or expect. It's funny too!
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