1977's "Battleflag" aka "The Standard" was the first of four Peter Cushing titles after "Star Wars" that sank without a trace at that time. Unlike "Son of Hitler," "Touch of the Sun," and "Black Jack," this co-production between West Germany, Austria, and Spain appears to be an earnest, serious project, which nevertheless never found a distributor outside Europe, neither in Britain nor the US. Set in Belgrade in Oct 1918, during the final days of the First World War, Officer Menis (Simon Ward) does his duty in defending the battle flag of the defeated Austro-Hungarian empire, while his fellow troops, a motley gang recruited from several different countries not loyal to the royal family, simply try to survive by any means possible. The battles are elaborate but far too lengthy, while the romance between Menis and Louise Lang (Veronica Forque), daughter of a wealthy Viennese industrialist, only cripple the pace even further. Considering he was working with three different languages, Ward performs admirably, alongside Jon Finch's Major Charbinsky, and Peter Cushing's cameo as the mysterious Baron von Hackenburg, a 'strange character' and reserve major, with some influence in Vienna. Entering at the 39 minute mark, the bearded Cushing's scenes were shot in Spain, his smoking Baron surrounded by his dogs, carefully observing the battles without ever taking part (like Barack Obama, 'leading from behind'). His big scene finds him speaking to the standard bearer, revealing him to be a lowly gypsy posing as an aristocrat (a solid five minutes). This was the last time he could be seen astride a horse...just as we first viewed him on screen in 1939's "The Man in the Iron Mask." Peter Cushing was reunited with Simon Ward, his assistant in "Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed," and Jon Finch, who had paid his dues in Hammers like "The Vampire Lovers" and "The Horror of Frankenstein," before stardom in Roman Polanski's "Macbeth" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Frenzy." Among the other cast members are Lil Dagover (nearly 90), the star of 1919's "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," and Austrian-born beauty Maria Perschy, mostly known for her work with Spanish horror star Paul Naschy, and other titles like "No Survivors Please," "Kiss Kiss...Kill Kill," "A Witch Without a Broom," "Five Golden Dragons," "The Castle of Fu Manchu," "Murders in the Rue Morgue," and "The Ghost Galleon."
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?