Bengal Brigade (1954)

86-87 mins | Drama | November 1954

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Bengal Rifles and Bengal Tiger . The film begins with the following written foreword: "Christmas, 1856, Northeast India. The approaching anniversary of one hundred years of British rule has brought growing unrest and occasional uprisings among the natives. The famed Bengal Rifles Regiment, Indian soldiers commanded by British officers, have pursued Siri Nath's rebels to the mountain fortress of Malakai Pass." According to a Nov 1952 HR news item, Rudolph Maté was originally set to direct the film, with Tyrone Power as star. A Jul 1953 DV article reports that Power withdrew from the film because of his full schedule. The HR review calls Bengal Brigade "a typical Ty Power ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Bengal Rifles and Bengal Tiger . The film begins with the following written foreword: "Christmas, 1856, Northeast India. The approaching anniversary of one hundred years of British rule has brought growing unrest and occasional uprisings among the natives. The famed Bengal Rifles Regiment, Indian soldiers commanded by British officers, have pursued Siri Nath's rebels to the mountain fortress of Malakai Pass." According to a Nov 1952 HR news item, Rudolph Maté was originally set to direct the film, with Tyrone Power as star. A Jul 1953 DV article reports that Power withdrew from the film because of his full schedule. The HR review calls Bengal Brigade "a typical Ty Power picture." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Oct 1954.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jul 1954.
---
Daily Variety
19 Oct 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
21 Oct 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 53
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 54
p. 7
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 54
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 54
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Oct 54
p. 185.
New York Times
13 Nov 54
p. 13.
Variety
20 Oct 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Bengal Tigers by Hall Hunter (New York, 1952).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Bengal Rifles
Bengal Tiger
Release Date:
November 1954
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 27 October 1954
Production Date:
late January--mid March 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
29 September 1954
Copyright Number:
LP4044
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
2:01
Duration(in mins):
86-87
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16998
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On Christmas Day, 1856, in Northeast India's Malakai Pass, English Captain Jeffrey Steven Claybourne leads Britain's Indian soldiers, or Sepoys, into battle against Indian troops rebelling against the past one hundred years of English rule. Colonel Morrow orders both Jeff and Captain Ronald Blaine to attack, but once Jeff's men encounter trouble, Ronald, shaken from an earlier bomb blast, pulls out. Seeing most of his men being slaughtered, Jeff ignores Morrow's command to sacrifice them and leads Ronald's men to victory against the rebels. Immediately afterward, however, he is court-martialed for deliberately disobeying orders. At the trial, Ronald, who loves Jeff's fiancée, Morrow's daughter Vivian, lies that Jeff hit him, after which Jeff declares to the jury that in the future he would again favor his men's lives over the orders of his superiors. Although he is sentenced to a mere suspension, Jeff resigns in disgust. After the trial, Jeff's men gather outside to salute him. At a reception that evening at the Morrows', the colonel presents the British army's new secret weapon, the highest-quality rifle available, to his rival, Indian leader Rajah Karam. With a small smile, Karam notes the need to bite off the tip of the cartridge before loading. While the men talk, Vivian slips out to meet Jeff, who tells her that he loves her deeply but no longer has anything to offer her. On his way out of the city, a village woman named Latah offers her thanks to Jeff for saving her people, and pledges her faithfulness to him. For the next days, Jeff wanders on safari, almost dying when he recklessly faces down a tiger. That night at the safari camp, a ... +


On Christmas Day, 1856, in Northeast India's Malakai Pass, English Captain Jeffrey Steven Claybourne leads Britain's Indian soldiers, or Sepoys, into battle against Indian troops rebelling against the past one hundred years of English rule. Colonel Morrow orders both Jeff and Captain Ronald Blaine to attack, but once Jeff's men encounter trouble, Ronald, shaken from an earlier bomb blast, pulls out. Seeing most of his men being slaughtered, Jeff ignores Morrow's command to sacrifice them and leads Ronald's men to victory against the rebels. Immediately afterward, however, he is court-martialed for deliberately disobeying orders. At the trial, Ronald, who loves Jeff's fiancée, Morrow's daughter Vivian, lies that Jeff hit him, after which Jeff declares to the jury that in the future he would again favor his men's lives over the orders of his superiors. Although he is sentenced to a mere suspension, Jeff resigns in disgust. After the trial, Jeff's men gather outside to salute him. At a reception that evening at the Morrows', the colonel presents the British army's new secret weapon, the highest-quality rifle available, to his rival, Indian leader Rajah Karam. With a small smile, Karam notes the need to bite off the tip of the cartridge before loading. While the men talk, Vivian slips out to meet Jeff, who tells her that he loves her deeply but no longer has anything to offer her. On his way out of the city, a village woman named Latah offers her thanks to Jeff for saving her people, and pledges her faithfulness to him. For the next days, Jeff wanders on safari, almost dying when he recklessly faces down a tiger. That night at the safari camp, a man attacks Jeff, and although his men save him, they release the attacker after identifying him as a "messenger" who spreads the word that the British are stealing the souls of the Indians. Returning to the city, Jeff is informed by Latah that the messengers speak of a prophesy promising British defeat after one hundred years of rule. She brings him to the marketplace, where a beggar is warning the Sepoys that the cartridges they bite are greased with the fat of the sacred cow, which puts their souls in danger. Jeff rushes to Morrow to inform him of this dangerous rumor, and although Morrow knows about it and swears the cartridges are smeared with beeswax, he refuses to assuage his troops' fears. The rajah, who considers Jeff more loyal to the Indians than to the English, invites Jeff to the palace. There, the rajah reveals that he has been spreading the rumor about the cow's fat and asks Jeff to lead his troops. He then invites Morrow, Vivian and Ronald to dinner that night, and when he presses Jeff for an answer, Jeff accepts the post of general, and the British guests brand him a traitor. Upon hearing that Jeff discussed the cow-fat rumor with Morrow earlier, the rajah also denounces Jeff, and has his soldiers attack him in the street. After Jeff is stabbed and left to die, Latah brings him back to her village to nurse him back to health. Just when he is well enough to stand, rebel Sepoys enter the village, forcing him to flee back to the city, which he finds devastated and abandoned. At the same time, Ronald also returns from a distant assignment, and the two search for Vivian. Ronald panics and shoots at his sergeant-major, Puran Singh, who was actually trying to keep the Sepoys from killing the white men. Jeff pushes Ronald's gun away in time to save Puran Singh, who calls Jeff his brother and lets them escape. As they run, they meet Hari Lal, Morrow's aide, who pledges his allegiance and informs them of Morrow's hideout in the swamp. There, Morrow welcomes Jeff, who avoids Vivian and stands watch. In the middle of the night, Hari Lal returns with Puran Singh and the soldiers and reveals himself to be a captain in the rajah's army. They arrest the British citizens, but on the way back to the palace, Jeff escapes and is tracked by Puran Singh. When the others reach the palace, the rajah kills Hari Lal for allowing Jeff to escape and orders Morrow shot. Just then, the rajah sees Puran Singh arriving with Jeff, and places Jeff before the firing squad. Puran Singh insists that his men be allowed to kill Jeff, but before commanding them to shoot, he whispers to them to remember who saved them at the Malakai Pass, and no one fires. The rajah shoots at Puran Singh and the Sepoys turn against the royal cavalry. As the battle rages, Ronald throws himself in front of a knife meant for Vivian, and before dying confesses that he lied at the court-martial. After Jeff kills the rajah, the royal troops surrender. Soon after, Morrow reinstates Jeff as captain. When Puran Singh reminds Jeff that the Sepoys still dream of freedom for India, Jeff promises that day will come, and until then, they will remain brothers. Jeff and Vivian then bid goodbye to Latah and leave the city together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.