Bhowani Junction (1956)

109-110 mins | Drama | 8 June 1956

Director:

George Cukor

Producer:

Pandro S. Berman

Cinematographer:

F. A. Young

Production Designers:

Gene Allen, John Howell

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The opening credits includes the following acknowledgment: "The producers gratefully acknowledge the assistance given by the Pakistan government in providing officers and men of the 13th Battalion Frontier Force Rifles, units of the Punjab police and the facilities of the Northwestern railway." Voice-over narration provided by Stewart Granger as the character "Col. Rodney Savage" is heard throughout the film detailing India's political turmoil and his own dilemma between his military duties and his growing love for "Victoria Jones."
       The film’s story encompasses background on the history of India and Pakistan in the twentieth century: The Indian National Congress party, the dominant political force in India throughout most of the 1900s, emphasized passive resistance to British colonial rule in India. Mahatma Gandhi (1869—1948) won control over the Congress in 1920 and, although he resigned as a member of the party in 1934, he continued to lead the political movement, which resulted in a non-violent resolution to the end of colonization. When, in 1939, the British declared India at war with German-led axis powers, the Congress vowed only to support the British troops if they promised withdrawal from India immediately following the war.
       In 1947, with a new, more lenient post-World War II British government in place, talks between the two countries resulted in the Mountbatten plan, which called for the creation of two independent states, India and Pakistan; however, this time period was also marked by extreme violence between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, which caused over one million casualties. In addition, India’s Communists, led by Manabendra Nath Roy, who opposed the Congress, engaged in acts of terrorism to try to overthrow the British. During the turmoil, Gandhi was assassinated ... More Less

The opening credits includes the following acknowledgment: "The producers gratefully acknowledge the assistance given by the Pakistan government in providing officers and men of the 13th Battalion Frontier Force Rifles, units of the Punjab police and the facilities of the Northwestern railway." Voice-over narration provided by Stewart Granger as the character "Col. Rodney Savage" is heard throughout the film detailing India's political turmoil and his own dilemma between his military duties and his growing love for "Victoria Jones."
       The film’s story encompasses background on the history of India and Pakistan in the twentieth century: The Indian National Congress party, the dominant political force in India throughout most of the 1900s, emphasized passive resistance to British colonial rule in India. Mahatma Gandhi (1869—1948) won control over the Congress in 1920 and, although he resigned as a member of the party in 1934, he continued to lead the political movement, which resulted in a non-violent resolution to the end of colonization. When, in 1939, the British declared India at war with German-led axis powers, the Congress vowed only to support the British troops if they promised withdrawal from India immediately following the war.
       In 1947, with a new, more lenient post-World War II British government in place, talks between the two countries resulted in the Mountbatten plan, which called for the creation of two independent states, India and Pakistan; however, this time period was also marked by extreme violence between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, which caused over one million casualties. In addition, India’s Communists, led by Manabendra Nath Roy, who opposed the Congress, engaged in acts of terrorism to try to overthrow the British. During the turmoil, Gandhi was assassinated at the hands of a Hindu extremist in 1948. For more information about Gandhi, please consult the entry for the 1953 documentary Mahatma Gandhi: 20th Century Prophet (see below).
       On 12 Apr 1954, HR noted that M-G-M had outbid both 20th Century-Fox and Columbia for the John Masters novel on which the film was based. A 26 Aug 1954 HR news item states that M-G-M was considering Cornel Wilde, Michael Wilding and Edmund Purdom, presumably for the role of "Patrick Taylor". According to a 7 Feb 1955 HR news item, Purdom left the production by his own request, while Wilde and Wilding were replaced by Bill Travers. By 19 Oct 1954, a HR news item reported that M-G-M has sought and failed to get permission from India for shooting in that country due to Indian government objections to material regarding Gandhi.
       A 15 May 1955 NYT article added that after India announced their plan to charge M-G-M twelve percent of its net world profit on the picture, Pakistan offered to waive almost all taxes if the production moved there. As of a 2 Nov 1954 HR news item, M-G-M decided to move locations to Pakistan and became the first American studio to do a feature film in that country. A 1 Dec 1954 HR news item noted that Andrew Morton assisted director George Cukor in early production in India and obtained release from M-G-M before the film's completion.
       The 15 May 1955 NYT article also noted that the Pakistani government loaned a detachment of 400 men from the Frontier Force Rifle as well as a special police detail for scenes. The article went on to state that portions of the film were shot in Pakistan on the banks of the Ravi River and in a Sikh temple, where non-Sikhs are normally prohibited entry. According to a 10 Jun 1955 HR news item, the railroad wreck sequence of the film was shot on location in Longmoor, England. An 11 Jun 1956 Newsweek article stated that M-G-M established headquarters in Lahore, Pakistan and railroad sequences were shot at the Lahore Railroad station.
       Director Cukor can be seen in a small role in the film as a train passenger who follows Ava Gardner off the train. HR news items and production charts add Julian Sherrier, Joseph Tomelty and Zia Mohyeddin to the cast; however, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 May 1956.
---
Daily Variety
4 May 56
p. 3.
Film Daily
7 May 56
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 1954
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 1954
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1955
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 1955
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Apr 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jun 1955
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 1955
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 1955
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 1955
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 56
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
27 May 1956.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 May 56
p. 881.
New York Times
15 May 1955.
---
New York Times
25 May 56
p. 26.
New Yorker
2 Jun 1956.
---
Newsweek
11 Jun 1956.
---
Saturday Review
2 Jun 1956.
---
Variety
9 May 56
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
Col consultant
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus supv
SOUND
Rec supv
Sd ed
Sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
MAKEUP
Hairdressing
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Bhowani Junction by John Masters (London, 1954).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 June 1956
Premiere Information:
San Francisco opening: 16 May 1956
Production Date:
early March--early April 1955 in Pakistan
14 April--mid July 1955 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Boreham Wood, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
23 April 1956
Copyright Number:
LP6626
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Photographed in Eastman Color
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
109-110
Length(in feet):
9,856
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17728
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1947, after several months of supervising reservists assigned to maintain peace at Bhowani Junction station during British withdrawal from India, Col. Rodney Savage has been summoned to return to England. While many Indians pay tribute to the departing Savage, Victoria Jones, a woman of Anglo-Indian descent, kisses the colonel as he boards the train. When fellow passenger Gen. Agavy, who has arranged to have Savage travel in his car, asks the colonel about his stay at Bhowani Junction, Savage recounts the complicated story of being torn between his military duty and his love for Victoria: Savage is detailed to Bhowani just as the Indian Congress Party, who are Gandhi sympathizers, support a recent Indian navy mutiny by organizing a harmless but well organized disruption at the station to halt the rail service and push the English out of the country. As the Congress choke the railway station with crowds, the Communist resistance and their underground leader, Davay, see an opportunity to create a violent riot. During the confusion, local traffic superintendent Patrick Taylor, an Anglo-Indian, meets his childhood sweetheart Victoria, who has just returned from Delhi after serving four years in the Women's Auxiliary Corps of the Indian army. The new collector, a local Indian official named Govindaswami, informs Savage, Taylor and Victoria about Davay, explaining that the Soviet Union wants the Communist party to run the country after the English have left. Following the meeting, Savage, who is instantly attracted to Victoria, orders her to remain in service to the railway despite her protests. Soon after, Taylor and Victoria return home to her Indian mother and her English father, Thomas Jones, a train conductor. Over dinner, ... +


In 1947, after several months of supervising reservists assigned to maintain peace at Bhowani Junction station during British withdrawal from India, Col. Rodney Savage has been summoned to return to England. While many Indians pay tribute to the departing Savage, Victoria Jones, a woman of Anglo-Indian descent, kisses the colonel as he boards the train. When fellow passenger Gen. Agavy, who has arranged to have Savage travel in his car, asks the colonel about his stay at Bhowani Junction, Savage recounts the complicated story of being torn between his military duty and his love for Victoria: Savage is detailed to Bhowani just as the Indian Congress Party, who are Gandhi sympathizers, support a recent Indian navy mutiny by organizing a harmless but well organized disruption at the station to halt the rail service and push the English out of the country. As the Congress choke the railway station with crowds, the Communist resistance and their underground leader, Davay, see an opportunity to create a violent riot. During the confusion, local traffic superintendent Patrick Taylor, an Anglo-Indian, meets his childhood sweetheart Victoria, who has just returned from Delhi after serving four years in the Women's Auxiliary Corps of the Indian army. The new collector, a local Indian official named Govindaswami, informs Savage, Taylor and Victoria about Davay, explaining that the Soviet Union wants the Communist party to run the country after the English have left. Following the meeting, Savage, who is instantly attracted to Victoria, orders her to remain in service to the railway despite her protests. Soon after, Taylor and Victoria return home to her Indian mother and her English father, Thomas Jones, a train conductor. Over dinner, Taylor expresses his fear that government jobs given to the more privileged Anglo-Indians will not be available should the English leave. Infuriated, Victoria yells that, as Anglo-Indians, they must find their place in Indian society without help from the English, and flees to her bedroom. Taylor then tries to talk to her about their plans for marriage, but Victoria, torn between the two cultures, retorts that she might marry an Indian man instead. The next day, striking Congress members lie down on the tracks in order to halt an ammunition train. When the Communists incite the gathering crowd to violence, Savage disperses them at gunpoint. After gaining Govindaswami's approval, Savage then orders Indian lower caste "untouchables" to throw pails of slop from the restrooms at the demonstrators, who flee the tracks in humiliation and disgust. When Taylor laughs at Savage's clever ploy against the Indians, Victoria becomes so outraged she vows never to speak to him again. Savage soon receives word that ammunition has been stolen from the train and that Davay has incited mobs to loot and burn nearby towns. That night as bombs fall on Bhowani, Victoria is walking home on the train tracks when Lt. Graham McDaniel, a lecherous station worker, attempts to rape her. Fighting for her life, Victoria hits McDaniel with a bar of steel, instantly killing him. Indian co-worker Ranjit Kasal finds Victoria beside the dead man and helps her to his house, where his mother, the Sandani, forbids her to tell the truth, assuming that the English would blame her son, an Indian, for the murder in order to save the military's reputation. Sandani reprimands Victoria for not dressing like an Indian and expresses her wish that Victoria marry Ranjit. Ghan Shyam, a guest in Sandani’s home, then offers to hide McDaniel's body. Convinced that she must embrace Indian life, Victoria dresses in a sari and begins publicly dating Ranjit, hoping her admiration of his traditions will turn into love. One day, military investigator George Lansom questions Victoria about the night of the murder and shows her a picture of Ghan Shyam, whom he identifies as Davay. Victoria claims to know nothing of either McDaniel or Davay. A few weeks later, when Ranjit asks Victoria to join him in becoming a Sikh and marry him, she accepts and begins studying the religion. When the strike is finally halted, Davay blows up a passenger train using the stolen explosives, causing dozens of deaths and injuries. Receiving orders to assist in the rescue effort, Victoria arrives at the wreck but is paralyzed by the horror surrounding her. Later, Ranjit and Victoria realize they cannot turn in Davay, who is still living with them under the name Ghan Shyam, for fear of implicating Sandani in Communist organizing and Victoria in McDaniel's death. Days later, Lansom questions Victoria again and tells her they have found the body of a sentry along with McDaniel's. During her wedding to Ranjit at a Sikh temple, conflicting voices fill Victoria's head with doubts and compel her to flee. Deciding to leave the city for a few days, she catches a ride on her father's next run, where Savage offers to share his cabin with her. Desperate to clear her conscience for both McDaniel's and the sentry's deaths, Victoria finally admits to killing McDaniel in self-defense and to knowing Davay's location. Savage believes her, but insists she admit the truth to the authorities and reveal Ranjit and Sandani's involvement. After Victoria is found innocent of the murder, Savage takes her out to celebrate and a romance soon develops between the officer and his subordinate. Within weeks, after Savage is ordered to return to England, Victoria rejects his offer to join him, claiming that she wants to find her place in India. Late one night, Davay kidnaps Victoria and secretly takes her aboard a freight train car heading out of town. Taylor, having heard that the train made an unscheduled stop, questions a railway man and learns that the car stopped near Victoria's home. When he finds Victoria's bed empty and goes to Savage's home, both men quickly realize Victoria must be aboard the train and race in a jeep to head off it off. Davay binds and gags Victoria, ties dynamite to his body and jumps off the train in a tunnel. When Savage stops the train at the other end of the tunnel, they find Victoria and learn that Davay is still inside the tunnel. As he follows Savage into the tunnel with guns drawn, the brave but naïve Taylor runs ahead with his flashlight and is shot by Davay. With help from Taylor's light, Savage kills Davay and then cradles the dying Taylor in his arms. As a train passes through the tunnel, Savage spots Mahatma Gandhi and realizes that Davay's attempt to kill India's new leader was narrowly averted. Within days, as he prepares to leave India, a love-struck Savage asks Victoria to join him in England as his wife, but she claims to belong to India. When Savage promises to leave the army and return to India to live with her, Victoria is overjoyed. Back on the train leaving India, Gen. Agavy offers to help Savage get an early military release, insisting that it is the least he could do.

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

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