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The Lives of a Bengal Lancer

Theatrical poster starring = Gary Cooper
Franchot Tone
Richard Cromwell
Guy Standing
Directed by Henry Hathaway
Produced by Louis D. Lighton
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) January 11, 1935 (1935-01-11)
Running time 109 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Lives of a Bengal Lancer is a 1935 American adventure film loosely adapted from the 1930 book of the same name by Francis Yeats-Brown. The plot of the movie, which bears little resemblance to Yeats-Brown's memoir, concerns British soldiers defending the borders of India against rebellious natives. It stars Gary Cooper, Franchot Tone, Richard Cromwell, and Douglass Dumbrille. The film was directed by Henry Hathaway and written by Grover Jones, William Slavens McNutt, Waldemar Young, John L. Balderston and Achmed Abdullah.

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture.[1]



On the northwest frontier of India during the British Raj, Scottish-Canadian Lieutenant Alan McGregor (Gary Cooper) welcomes two replacements to the 41st Bengal Lancers, Lieutenant Forsythe (Franchot Tone) and Lieutenant Donald Stone (Richard Cromwell), the son of the unit's commander, Colonel Tom Stone (Guy Standing). In an attempt to show impartiality, the colonel treats his son coldly, which is misinterpreted and causes resentment in the young man.

Lieutenant Barrett (Colin Tapley) has been spying on Mohammed Khan (Douglass Dumbrille) and reports that he has been preparing an uprising against the British. Khan kidnaps Lieutenant Stone in order to try to extract vital information about an ammunition caravan from him. When the colonel refuses to attempt his rescue, McGregor and Forsythe go without orders. Unfortunately, they are caught as well. Mohammed Khan says, "We have ways of making men talk" (a line which is frequently misquoted) and has his prisoners tortured. Stone cracks under the pain and reveals what he knows. As a result, the ammunition is captured.

The captives escape as the outmatched Bengal Lancers deploy to assault Khan's fortress. They manage to destroy the ammunition and Stone redeems himself by killing Khan, ensuring victory.



Paramount had planned on producing the film in 1931 and sent Ernest B. Schoedsack and Rex Wimpy to India to film location shots such as a tiger hunt.[2]

Paiute Native Americans and Hindu fruit-pickers from Napa Valley were used as extras.[citation needed]


The film was parodied by Laurel and Hardy in their film Bonnie Scotland.

Cromwell was mentioned in Gore Vidal's satirical novel Myra Breckinridge (1968) as "the late Richard Cromwell, so satisfyingly tortured in Lives of a Bengal Lancer."

According to a BBC documentary, this was Adolf Hitler's favourite film.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "NY Times: The Lives of a Bengal Lancer". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Nazis: A Warning from History, Part 3: The Wrong War - BBC Television
  • Robinson, Derek, Invasion 1940, London (2005) p291.

External links

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