Regimental Sergeant Major Lauderdale is a by-the-book, strict disciplinarian, who seems like an anachronism in a sleepy peacetime African outpost of the modern British commonwealth. Rdiculed behind his back by his subordinate N.C.O.s, he must play host to a liberal women M.P. making a tour of the base. However, when an ambitious African officer, who happens to be a protegè of the M.P., initiates a coup d'etat against Captain Abraham, the lawful African commandant, the resourceful sergeant major uses all his military training to save his men from a certain firing squad.Written by
Gabe Taverney (email@example.com)
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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