29 user 9 critic

Guns at Batasi (1964)

An anachronistic martinet RSM on a remote Colonial African army caught in a local coup d'etat must use his experience to defend those in his care.



(screenplay), (novel) | 3 more credits »

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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Karen Eriksson
Errol John ...
David Lodge ...
Sgt. 'Schoolie' Prideaux
Sgt. 'Aussie' Drake
Horace James ...


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 NCOs 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, 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 (duke1029@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Brothers of Vengeance... See more »


Drama | History | War


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

30 October 1964 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Les canons de Batasi  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Although Lauderdale, the main character played by Richard Attenborough demands that a royal portrait of the Queen of England was hung behind the bar of the mess, it remains unseen all through the movie. Probably because of the ending scene when Lauderdale angrily throws a glass of whiskey on it and breaks.it .Showing the portrait of Elisabeth II would have been outrageous and liable of censorship. See more »


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 »


[first lines]
Sgt. Dodger Brown: [singing as he drives a truck] She'll be comin' round the mountain when she comes. She'll be comin'
Colour Sgt. Ben Parkin: Can't you sing in tune?
Sgt. Dodger Brown: round the mountain when she comes!
[pause as truck bumps over rough road]
Sgt. Dodger Brown: Hey, Ben, you know I was just thinkin'. Back home they wouldn't let me drive a scooter without taking a test.
Sgt. Dodger Brown: Marvelous, isn't it?
[thud as truck jolts]
Colour Sgt. Ben Parkin: Marvelous
See more »


Referenced in The Postgraduate Course in Sexual Love (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

Thoroughly enjoyable
3 February 2008 | by See all my reviews

I was pleasantly surprised to find how much I enjoyed this black and white low budget film. Although it was about the British army in East Africa during a coup, it was not an action film in the Rambo or Jean Claude Van Damm vein, instead it was an intelligent portrayal of a career RSM faced with a crisis on his hands, and having to take the appropriate action to save the people for whom he was responsible. In many ways the film reminded me of Tunes of Glory, where Alec Guiness played a similar career NCO.

The film is proof that a low budget B&W production filmed in a studio need not be an inferior product. Tens of millions of dollars do not need to be squandered on action scenes, all you need is a darned good script, good actors and imagination.

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