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The Stranglers of Bombay (1959)

 -  Action | Adventure | History  -  May 1960 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 461 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 16 critic

In the 1830s a captain in the East India Company lobbies to investigate the criminal Thugee Cult of Kali, an organized crime group of stranglers and thieves.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Captain Harry Lewis
Allan Cuthbertson ...
Capt. Christopher Connaught-Smith
Andrew Cruickshank ...
Colonel Henderson
George Pastell ...
High Priest of Kali
Marne Maitland ...
Patel Shari
Jan Holden ...
Mary Lewis
Paul Stassino ...
Lt. Silver
Tutte Lemkow ...
Ram Das
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Storyline

A murderous religious cult is way-laying travellers and stealing goods in nineteenth century India. As the disappearances mount and trade becomes difficult, the British East India Company is forced to act. But they give the job to an upper-class officer completely out-of-touch with the country rather than the obvious candidate who has been in India for years and well understands the people and culture. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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This is true! This is real! This actually happened! See more »


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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

May 1960 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Würger von Bombay  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Guy Rolfe's Captain Henry Lewis is partially based on William Henry Sleeman, who declared war on the Thugees in 1835 and with the hanging of thousands of its leaders and members was able to eradicate it by the 1870s. See more »

Goofs

When Captain Lewis is tied to the ground, a reflection is visible between him and the cobra, revealing that a pane of glass separates them. See more »

Quotes

Patel Shari: Whoever rules decides the truth.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Doctor Who: The Curse of the Cybermen's Tomb (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

 
THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY (Terence Fisher, 1960) ***
31 July 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Watching this, I was reminded all over again just how invigorating the output from Hammer Films was during its heyday; even so, this isn't a horror film as such – and, in fact, has recently been released on DVD through Sony as part of a double-disc 4-movie collection entitled "Icons Of Adventure" (none of which I'd previously watched).

The film has a good reputation quality-wise, but it's even better-known as one of the company's grisliest efforts – not that there's excessive bloodshed on display, but director Fisher was certainly able to milk the inherent savagery of British-ruled India for all it was worth (there's plenty of implied physical violence throughout, to be sure, which seems all the more obscene for being triggered by religious fanaticism!). Tying up with this fact, the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) came down on THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY with particular alacrity. Unfortunately, many of the cuts they enforced back then (notably a female hanger-on's ecstatic reaction shots to the violence perpetrated by the titular cult have been all but eliminated, thus rendering her character virtually pointless!) have been retained for the R1 edition…though a scene involving a fight between a mongoose (the hero's pet which saves its master – having fallen prisoner to the vicious stranglers – from certain death at the eleventh hour) and a cobra, reportedly also trimmed by seven seconds, seems intact here!

I'm ambivalent about the picture being in black-and-white: admittedly, this allows it a gritty realism unusual for the company – however, at the same time, the lack of color tends to dilute the film's potential for exotic flavor…especially since this would have alleviated its unremitting bleakness somewhat! Incidentally, while the come-uppance of the cult itself feels a bit rushed, this is eventually redeemed by a satisfactory aftermath – wherein a former spiritual leader, now reduced to mere negotiator between his people and Britain's East India Company, gives himself away as an associate of the so-called "thuggees"; similarly devious had been a half-caste officer, whom the hero dealt with personally during a scouting mission for a 'lost patrol'. In any case, THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY features one of Hammer's strongest (and most sympathetic) male leads from this era in middle-aged Guy Rolfe – though he's matched by an intense display of villainy from George Pastell as the High Priest of the strangling cult; on the other hand, Allan Cuthbertson's overbearing snob of an upper-class officer fails to rise above mere cliché!

By the way, it's always a pleasure to see the names of all the Hammer stalwarts among the credits – with cinematographer Arthur Grant and composer James Bernard chief among them, they deliver exemplary work on this picture as well; having said that, THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY was uniquely scripted by an American – David Zelag Goodman – whose best work (Sam Peckinpah's STRAW DOGS [1971]), coincidentally, would also be filmed in England and prove a censorship milestone!


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