Regimental Sergeant-Major Lauderdale is a spit-and-polish, by-the-book disciplinarian, who seems like a 19th Century anachronism in a sleepy peacetime African outpost of the modern British Commonwealth. He is ridiculed behind his back by his subordinate NCO's and must play host to a liberal female MP making a tour of the base. However, when an ambitious African officer, who happens to be a protege of the MP's, initiates a coup d'etat against Captain Abraham, the lawful African commandant, the resourceful RSM uses all his military training to arm his men despite being under house arrest and rescue the wounded commandant from a certain firing squad. When Lt. Boniface, the leader of the mutiny surrounds the sergeants mess with two Bofors guns, it looks like Lauderdale will have to surrender unless he again disobeys orders and takes the initiative. Written by
Gabe Taverney (email@example.com)
The personal weapon used by the British is the Sterling sub machine gun which replaced the Sten in the British Army in 1953. This weapon is held with the left hand on the barrel and never the magazine or housing. Holding the magazine is a throwback to its predecessor, the Sten. The experienced senior members of the Mess are holding it incorrectly whilst the most inexperienced among them (Private Wilkes) holds it correctly and naturally. See more »
I discovered this film, quite by chance, whilst looking through the early evening schedules for BBC1. Billed in the newspaper as a "Second World War drama" it is anything but, actually being set in early '60s East Africa just after countries like Kenya achieved independence from Britain. Richard Attenborough is splendid as the RSM who worships "spit and polish" as much as he does HM The Queen. (Odd to think she's still on the throne and "reigning" over the same but very much changed realm.) Attenborough's characterisation of the type of man who ran the British Army is spot on. Are such men still with us? Flora Robson also gives a entirely believable performance as the naive and opinionated Labour MP. We know such women are still amongst us. The supporting cast of actors portraying the sergeants and reluctant conscript give this film great credibility. Mia Farrow is an unexpected guest and we can only envy Wilkie for getting his wicked way. Jack Hawkins, as ever, gives a stock performance as the officer who remains stiff upper-lipped in the face of adversity. Altogether an unexpected treat.
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