Grizzled American private detective in England investigates a complicated case of blackmail turned murder involving a rich but honest elderly general, his two loose socialite daughters, a pornographer and a gangster.
Captain Harry Flashman of the British Army is a cad, a coward, and a lecher who always seems to come off inadvertently heroic. While romancing renowned courtesan Lola Montes, Harry is recruited against his will by Otto von Bismarck to substitute for a look-a-like Prussian Prince ostensibly in order to help Bismarck enlarge his hold over German duchies. But Bismarck has something more sinister in mind for Harry and the Prince.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
In 1970, Director Richard Lester had planned to make a movie of "Flashman", the first of George MacDonald Fraser's novels, from a screenplay by Charles Wood and Frank Muir, and with John Alderton in the title role. Because of expense, it was cancelled with only days to go before the start of shooting. Four years later, having collaborated with Fraser on his two "Musketeers" movies with huge success, Lester tried to reactivate the project, but found it easier to set up a movie of Fraser's second novel, "Royal Flash", perhaps because the story is a parody of "The Prisoner Of Zenda", which had been filmed several times with great popularity. Even so, United Artists went cold on the idea shortly before filming was due to begin, but this time Lester was able successfully to transfer the project to Twentieth Century Fox. However, the movie proved to be a critical and box-office failure, and was cut from a running time of one hour and fifty-eight minutes to one hour and thirty-six minutes for general release in Britain (which accounts for certain well-known actors either not appearing, or doing so only very briefly). George MacDonald Fraser so disliked this movie, that he would not consent to having another one based on his Flashman novels made in his lifetime. See more »
At around 48 minutes, as Flashman and Rudi enter Strackenz, one of the cheering crowd of townspeople can be seen to pull out a compact camera and take a photograph of the procession, before resuming cheering. See more »
So, the last thing I have to tell you young fellows is this: play up and play the game, honor your queen and country, mind what your masters tell you, say your prayers each night, keep your minds and your bodies clean, take a cold bath each day, and you'll find you can always look the world in the eye like an English gentleman.
[audience members concurs, muttering "Here, here"]
Now my lads, I'm just a simple soldier.
[Audience members murmer objections and so does the headmaster]
[...] See more »
Director Lester's rollicking comedic follow-up to his two Musketeers movies, this is not quite up there, but still doesn't explain why this is almost an unknown film or worse, an almost lost film. McDowell captures much of the spirit of the notorious, lecherous Capt.Flashman of the books (by G.MacDonald Fraser), a devout coward when pressed, but possessed of so much British insolence and bluff, he gets by quite well. The film lacks much of any other interesting, truly humorous characters, but Oliver Reed is a hoot as the humorless Otto von Bismarck, planning to begin a new Reich in Europe, with Flashman as one of his pawns (this is the mid 19th century, by the way). He and Flashman begin a contentious relationship near the beginning, with Flashman usually taunting him and Otto swearing a retribution. Those are some of the best scenes, including Otto's boxing challenge with real-life boxer Cooper.
Alan Bates, on the other hand, never quite warms to the part as the suave adventurer Rudi, a more polished version of Flashman, always dressed in white and quite dashing. He pops up almost a half hour into the film and maybe is too suave; his scenes lack a certain something, such as the droll atmosphere pervading everything else. Overall, it's an impressive cast, including well-known Brits Tom Bell and Lionel Jeffries hamming it up as Otto's henchmen. But, like Bates, they're not given a chance to really shine, usually relegated to an odd mixture of slapstick and serious threats against Flashman's life. A thinner than we're used to seeing Bob Hoskins shows up briefly near the beginning as a copper. Britt Ekland, as a duchess, also seems to make only a token appearance. McDowell however, even gets a chance to play a second role, that of Flashman's double, a more noble prince. The first half of this picture is really promising, delivering period entertainment; it doesn't quite live up to its promise later, but it's still a royal good time. It's a shame this film is best available only as a DVD-R, if one can find it. Update: new DVD arrived in April, 2007!
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