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The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)

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A major countermands orders and attacks to avenge a previous massacre of men, women, and children.


Michael Curtiz


Alfred Lord Tennyson (poem), Michael Jacoby (original story) (as Michel Jacoby) | 2 more credits »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Errol Flynn ... Maj. Geoffrey Vickers
Olivia de Havilland ... Elsa Campbell (as Olivia De Havilland)
Patric Knowles ... Capt. Perry Vickers
Henry Stephenson ... Sir Charles Macefield
Nigel Bruce ... Sir Benjamin Warrenton
Donald Crisp ... Col. Campbell
David Niven ... Capt. Randall
C. Henry Gordon ... Surat Khan
G.P. Huntley G.P. Huntley ... Maj. Jowett (as G. P. Huntley Jr.)
Robert Barrat ... Count Igor Volonoff
Spring Byington ... Lady Octavia Warrenton
E.E. Clive ... Sir Humphrey Harcourt
J. Carrol Naish ... Subadar-Major Puran Singh (as J. Carroll Naish)
Walter Holbrook Walter Holbrook ... Cornet Barclay
Princess Baba ... Prema's Mother (as Princess Baigum)


Major Vickers is an officer at the 27th Lancers in India 1856. When the regiment is on maneuver, the barracks are attacked by Surat Khan and his soldiers who massacre British women and children. This leaves an inextinguishable memory and Vickers promises to revenge the dead. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The reckless lancers sweep on and on - so that a woman's heart might not be broken! You're not fighting a single legion - you're fighting the entire British army, Surat Khan! See more »


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Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

20 October 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Carga da Brigada Ligeira See more »

Filming Locations:

Agoura Hills, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$1,200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (re-cut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The original script used the real-life siege of a British fort at Cawnpore (and subsequent massacre of its survivors) during the Sepoy Rebellion--a nationwide mutiny of Indian soldiers, called "sepoys", in the British army--as the reason for the famous Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava during the Crimean War. However, shortly before the film was started, someone pointed out that the Sepoy Rebellion took place three years AFTER the Crimean War. The fort's name was hurriedly changed to Chukoti, and instead of mutinous Indian soldiers, the besiegers were changed to tribesmen of a fictitious warlord called Surat Khan. See more »


The film states that it is dedicated "to the officers and men of the Light Brigade who died victorious in a gallant charge at Balaklava for Queen and Country - A.D. 1856." However, the battle at Balaklava and the Charge of the Light Brigade occurred in October 1854. See more »


[first lines]
Sir Humphrey Harcourt: How do you fellows manage to look so comfortably, Vickers?
Maj. Geoffrey Vickers: We may look it Sir, but we're not. They say the first 40 years are about the hottest up here on the frontier, after that you get used to it.
Sir Humphrey Harcourt: Really?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: This production has its basis in history. The historical basis, however, has been fictionized for the purposes of this picture and the names of many characters, many characters themselves, the story, incidents and institutions, are fictitious. With the exception of known historical characters, whose actual names are herein used, no identification with actual persons, living or dead, is intended or should be inferred. See more »


Referenced in Revenge of the Stolen Stars (1986) See more »


God Save the Tsar
(1833) (uncredited)
(Russian national anthem, 1833-1917)
Music by Alexis Lvov
In the score during the charge at Balaklava
See more »

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User Reviews

Noble Six Hundred
1 July 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Anyone who is expecting a factual retelling of the famous charge at the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War had better look to Tony Richardson's film from 1968. This particular Charge of the Light Brigade is a nice action adventure tale from the British Raj in the Kipling mold.

Of course this is all fictional. There's no such person as the evil Moslem ruler played by C. Henry Gordon who massacred a British garrison at a place called Chukoti in 1854. The reason for the famous cavalry charge did not happen so that the regiment could get to nail this dude for his crimes. Yet one thing I found contained more than an element of truth about British rule in India and some of our problems today.

At the very beginning Errol Flynn is accompanying E.E. Clive on a goodwill mission to Gordon. It seems as though there was a treaty with a promised subsidy from Her Majesty that expired with the death of his father. Even though they're not paying him any more to be the British friend, Clive still hopes for Gordon's friendship.

This in fact was how the British acquired 'friends' all over India, they ruled very little of it outright. They won a bidding war that was as acrimonious as the military conflict with other European powers which concluded with the French out of there altogether after the Seven Years War and the Portugese left with a couple of enclaves on the coast.

Clive in fact is one very large fathead, Flynn knows it only too well. In fact though this is how we're still acquiring 'friends' in that region which is now Pakistan.

Thrown into the politics is the rivalry between Errol Flynn and his brother Patric Knowles for Olivia DeHavilland. Originally Anita Louise was supposed to be slated for the part. But after the rave notices started coming in from Captain Blood before some of the romantic stuff was to be shot, Louise was substituted for Olivia DeHavilland and poor Olivia was typecast as the crinolined heroine until she left Warner Brothers.

Jack Warner spent a lot of money on this film. The whole garrison at Chukoti where the massacre took place was built from the ground, up; no miniatures were used. Thousands of horses were bought and about 200 were destroyed in the making of the final charge. So many animals were hurt the ASPCA stepped in and Charge of the Light Brigade got a lot of bad publicity among animal lovers. It did receive an Oscar for Best Assistant Director for the second unit work in depicting the charge when that was a category at the Academy Awards.

Errol Flynn said it was the roughest film he ever made in terms of pure physicality. It was pretty rough on Olivia DeHavilland as well who Flynn accidentally cold-cocked during a scene. These crinolined heroines do have it rough.

One of my favorite character actors, Henry Stephenson, plays the fictional Charles Masefield in this film. Stephenson in every film he did always embodied the stiff upper lip, attention to your duty ethic that the United Kingdom prides itself in. He's always a man of class and refinement. And he firmly believes in the John Ford mantra, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Which is what Alfred Lord Tennyson gave us when he wrote that poem extolling the young men of that generation who died at Balaclava. We're watching the legend here.

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