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 (email@example.com)
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 »
At regimental dinners in the Sgts Mess, the Loyal Toast is always proposed by Mr Vice, the junior member of the mess, and not by the RSM. 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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