Royal Flash (1975)

PG | 99 mins | Comedy | 8 October 1975

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HISTORY

       Originally published in 1970 by Barrie and Jenkins, Royal Flush is the second of twelve novels in The Flashman Papers series written by George MacDonald Fraser (1925 – 2008) who also wrote the screenplay. The first of the series was Flashman, published in 1969 by Barrue and Jenkins. The character of “Flashman” originated in Thomas Hughes’ 1857 novel, Tom Brown's School Days, as a minor character who is the bully of Rugby School. "Harry Paget Flashman’s" first and second names were created by Fraser as the character is only known as “Flashman” in Hughes’ novel. The series spans Flashman’s life from 1822 to 1905. In the novel, George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman rises through the ranks of the British Army from infantryman to Brigadier General, while remaining a cad and coward.
       Like the novel, the movie version of Royal Flash, is populated with historical persons and events. As the film implies, Otto Von Bismarck (1815-1898) did mastermind the formation of Germany after revolutions swept western Europe in 1848. He accomplished this primarily through diplomacy and espionage. Lola Montez (1818-1861) was originally born in Limerick, Ireland as Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, was raised in India and educated in England and Scotland. After eloping and then separating from a British soldier, Lieutenant Thomas James, she changed her name to Montez and debuted on the London stage as “The Spanish Dancer.” Although her true identity was quickly exposed, she continued her dancing career though out Europe. In the process she became the lover of many famous men ... More Less

       Originally published in 1970 by Barrie and Jenkins, Royal Flush is the second of twelve novels in The Flashman Papers series written by George MacDonald Fraser (1925 – 2008) who also wrote the screenplay. The first of the series was Flashman, published in 1969 by Barrue and Jenkins. The character of “Flashman” originated in Thomas Hughes’ 1857 novel, Tom Brown's School Days, as a minor character who is the bully of Rugby School. "Harry Paget Flashman’s" first and second names were created by Fraser as the character is only known as “Flashman” in Hughes’ novel. The series spans Flashman’s life from 1822 to 1905. In the novel, George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman rises through the ranks of the British Army from infantryman to Brigadier General, while remaining a cad and coward.
       Like the novel, the movie version of Royal Flash, is populated with historical persons and events. As the film implies, Otto Von Bismarck (1815-1898) did mastermind the formation of Germany after revolutions swept western Europe in 1848. He accomplished this primarily through diplomacy and espionage. Lola Montez (1818-1861) was originally born in Limerick, Ireland as Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, was raised in India and educated in England and Scotland. After eloping and then separating from a British soldier, Lieutenant Thomas James, she changed her name to Montez and debuted on the London stage as “The Spanish Dancer.” Although her true identity was quickly exposed, she continued her dancing career though out Europe. In the process she became the lover of many famous men including writer Alexandre Dumas and composer Franz Liszt. As shown in the movie, King Ludwig I was so enchanted with her dancing that he gave her a castle and named her Baroness Rosenthal and Countess of Lansfeld. She remained the king’s mistress until he was dethroned by an 1848 revolution. She traveled to America, where she earned her livelihood as a dancer and lecturer. The boxer, John Gully (1783-1963), who fought Bismarck in the film, was the heavyweight champion of England and later a member of parliament.
       As reported in a 30 Dec 1974 DV news brief, former European Heavyweight Champion, Henry Cooper, played the legendary John Gully. This resulted in a protest by Actor’s Equity who wanted a union actor for the role.
       A 30 Sep 1975 HR movie review stated that director Richard Lester was scheduled to make Flashman , the first novel of The Flashman Papers, into a movie in 1970. However, the project was cancelled one month before its scheduled start. A 26 Jul 1974 DV news item stated that Michael Hodges was trying to reactivate the Flashman project, but as of May 2014, the novel has not been made into a movie.
       A 17 Oct 1974 DV article reported that Royal Flash had moved to Warner Bros. from United Artists. Royal Flash was supposed to be one of five productions David V. Picker’s company, Two Roads, was to deliver to United Artists as part of a severance package when Picker stepped down as United Artists’ president and chief executive in Jul 1973. Contemporary sources speculated that the move to Warner Bros. was due to disagreements over budget between United Artists and Picker. However, an 11 Dec 1974 Var article reported that the movie would be distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
       Principal photography began 18 Oct 1974, according to the 17 Oct 1974 DV, with a budget of $3,500,000. As reported in the 11 Dec 1974 Var, shooting was completed in Bavaria. Locations included the medieval city of Rothenburg, Germany, and Linderhof Palace. Plans to shoot in the German town of Ludwigshafen were canceled due to an outbreak of typhoid. The film had a ten week shooting schedule, and a 6 Nov 1974 ^HR news item stated that four weeks of interior shooting where done at the Twickenham Studios in London, England.
       According to the 11 Dec 1974 Var article, cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth missed some of principal photography in Rothenburg due to the flu.
       300 soldiers from the U.S. 3d Infantry Division were hired for crowd scenes when production was underway near their headquarters in Wuerzurg, Germany.
       According to the 30 Sep 1975 HR review, a 121-minute sneak preview version of the film was shown in Los Angeles, CA, in Jun 1975, but Royal Flash was cut to 98 minutes for its 8 Oct 1975 U.S. release. The longer version was shown in the United Kingdom, as reported in a 24 Aug 1975 Var news brief.
      End credits include the statement: "Filmed on location in Germany, and at Twickenham Film Studios, London, England."
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Jul 1974.
---
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1974.
---
Daily Variety
30 Dec 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 1975
p. 10, 12.
Los Angeles Times
7 Oct 1975
Section IV, p. 1, 13.
New York Times
11 Oct 1975
p. 24.
Variety
11 Dec 1974.
---
Variety
24 Aug 1975.
---
Variety
1 Oct 1975
p. 24
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
German prod mgr
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
2d unit photog
Stills photog
Filmed with
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Prop buyer
Set dresser
Const mgr
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus adpt and dir by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Make-up
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to Mr. Lester
Continuity
Prod secy
Casting dir
Unit pub
Prod services by
STAND INS
Fight dir
Stunt arr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Royal Flash by George MacDonald Fraser (London, 1970).
MUSIC
Original music copyright © MCMLXXV Twentieth Century Music Corporation Limited, all rights reserved.
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 October 1975
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 8 October 1975
New York opening: 10 October 1975
Production Date:
18 October--December 1974
Copyright Claimant:
Zeeuwse Maatschappij, N.V.
Copyright Date:
8 October 1975
Copyright Number:
LP45204
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor®
Prints
De Luxe
Duration(in mins):
99
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1844, Captain Harry Flashman stands before the students of Rugby Academy, while the headmaster describes Harry’s heroics at the battle of Piper’s fort in Afghanistan. Contrary to the headmaster’s account, Harry remembers that when all other English defenders were killed, he pulled down the Union Jack and begged for mercy until a cannon ball killed the attackers and knocked Harry unconscious. When the British rescue party arrived, they found Harry wrapped in the flag and proclaimed him a hero. After Harry extols the virtues of being an English gentleman, he visits a brothel, and is forced to escape through a window when police raid the establishment. German diplomat, Count Otto von Bismarck, and actress, Lola Montez, find Harry hiding in their carriage. Despite Lola’s protests, Bismarck summons the police. However, the policeman recognizes Harry as the “Hero of Kabul” and orders Bismarck to be quiet. When Lola tells Bismarck to stop acting like a fool, he leaves Lola to be seduced by Harry. The next evening, Harry and Lola watch a boxing match in a private home. Bismarck arrives and disparages the noble art of pugilism, and Harry goads him into sparring with John Gully, the English heavyweight champion, who easily beats Bismarck. Later, Harry and Lola nap in her dressing room as an opera is performed onstage. When Harry is too tired to make love for the fourth time, Lola throws him half-dressed onto the stage, causing a stagehand to drop the background scrim onto the prima donna’s head. Demanding satisfaction, the singer challenges Lola to a duel. The next day, she and Lola ... +


In 1844, Captain Harry Flashman stands before the students of Rugby Academy, while the headmaster describes Harry’s heroics at the battle of Piper’s fort in Afghanistan. Contrary to the headmaster’s account, Harry remembers that when all other English defenders were killed, he pulled down the Union Jack and begged for mercy until a cannon ball killed the attackers and knocked Harry unconscious. When the British rescue party arrived, they found Harry wrapped in the flag and proclaimed him a hero. After Harry extols the virtues of being an English gentleman, he visits a brothel, and is forced to escape through a window when police raid the establishment. German diplomat, Count Otto von Bismarck, and actress, Lola Montez, find Harry hiding in their carriage. Despite Lola’s protests, Bismarck summons the police. However, the policeman recognizes Harry as the “Hero of Kabul” and orders Bismarck to be quiet. When Lola tells Bismarck to stop acting like a fool, he leaves Lola to be seduced by Harry. The next evening, Harry and Lola watch a boxing match in a private home. Bismarck arrives and disparages the noble art of pugilism, and Harry goads him into sparring with John Gully, the English heavyweight champion, who easily beats Bismarck. Later, Harry and Lola nap in her dressing room as an opera is performed onstage. When Harry is too tired to make love for the fourth time, Lola throws him half-dressed onto the stage, causing a stagehand to drop the background scrim onto the prima donna’s head. Demanding satisfaction, the singer challenges Lola to a duel. The next day, she and Lola fight with swords. When Lola slices an “L” into the woman’s breast, she is told to leave England immediately or be arrested for attempted murder. Four years later, Harry receives a letter from Lola, who is now the mistress of King Ludwig I, offering him five hundred pounds of gold if he will come to Bavaria and perform a “delicate service.” In Bavaria, Harry meets Rudi von Sternberg, a Hungarian soldier, who leads Harry to Lola. Upon seeing her, Harry insists they have sex. Lola guides him to her bedchamber and tells him to wait. The door swings open and an overweight German girl appears and leaps on top of him. Kraftstein, a man with a metal hand, and his assistant, De Gautet, arrest Harry for unlawful copulation. As they tie him to a table to prepare Harry for castration, Rudi smashes a window and fights the men off with his sword until he and Harry escape on horseback. Harry rides to a distant castle, only to find Kraftstein, De Gautet and Bismarck waiting. Bismarck explains that the Duchess Irma is to wed Crown Prince Karl Magnus in two weeks, but the prince has a “social” disease that will take four months to cure. As the wedding is necessary for his plan to unite Germany, Bismarck proposes Harry impersonate Magnus and marry Irma, until the prince is cured. Harry reluctantly agrees after Bismarck threatens his life. To disguise Harry as the prince, they dye his hair, tie a bag of oil on his chest to make him stouter and slice his face to match the Prince’s dueling scars. Harry is given a crash course on how to be the Prince and two weeks later, meets Irma, who bedazzles him with her beauty and intimidates him with her frigidity. A crisis arises when Bismarck learns that Eric Hansen, a close childhood friend of the Prince and a member of a secret society dedicated to keeping the duchy apart from Germany, will be attending the wedding. However, even though Eric looks strangely at the “prince”, the wedding goes off without a hitch and that night, Harry seduces the terrified Irma. Over the next couple days, Irma’s frigidity vanishes and she ravishes Harry so often he accepts an invitation from De Gautet to go boar hunting just to get some rest. During the hunt, De Gautet leads Harry to a bridge that spans a waterfall, where he hurls a spear at Harry’s exposed back but misses when Harry bends to tie his shoe. As the two men struggle, De Gautet slips on the ice, goes over the edge, but catches a rope and dangles over the abyss. Harry grasps the rope, leans over the edge and threatens to cut it unless De Gautet tells him why he was attacked. De Gautet confesses he was ordered by Bismarck to first kill Harry, then plant papers on his dead body and claim that Harry was an English spy, throwing the duchy into chaos, and allowing Bismarck to annex it to Germany. De Gautet also informs Harry that the real prince is being held in a nearby castle. Instead of pulling the man up, Harry cuts the rope. However, he cuts the it too high, and both men plunge into the waterfall below. Harry survives, only to be captured by Eric Hansen and Sapten, the leader of the secret society. Harry confesses everything and Sapten drags him along to rescue the prince. Upon reaching the castle, Sapten realizes his army cannot breach the walls, so Eric volunteers to cross the moat with Harry and lower the drawbridge. A reluctant Harry agrees after Sapten threatens to hang him. Eric and Harry swim the moat and into a tunnel leading to a courtyard. Rudi appears and shoots Eric causing Harry to swim further into the tunnel to the dungeon. There, Harry discovers the crown prince chained to a boulder suspended by a thin rope over a hole leading to the moat. Rudi arrives, captures Harry, and proposes they kill the prince, put Harry on the throne, and split the duchy’s treasury. As Harry seems to consider the offer, he smashes a bottle of wine over Rudi’s head, grabs Rudi’s keys and sword, rushes downstairs and drops the drawbridge, only to have it shatter on impact. When Kraftstein and his men appear and exchange shots with Sapten’s army, Harry hides behind a curtain. As the battle rages, Rudi stumbles downstairs and stabs Harry in the oil sack he is wearing. Harry rips off the sack, sets it aflame, and throws it at Rudi, before running back to the dungeon to toss the keys to the prince. Rudi arrives and cuts the rope just as the prince unlocks himself, but the chain wraps around Harry’s ankle and drags him underwater. Harry untangles himself, swims to shore and runs back to the palace, screaming the duchy is in a revolt. He steals the crown jewels and flees. Later, Harry arrives at Lola’s castle in time for a real revolution and sees her escaping in by coach. He leaps on the running board and begs for aid, but Lola pushes him off until she notices a jewel Harry has dropped and lets him in. The next morning, Harry awakes to find Lola has left with the jewels and horses. The coach door flies open and Rudi jumps in, puts a gun to Harry’s head and pulls the trigger. Nothing happens. Rudi explains he has invented a new game called “Hungarian roulette.” The two keep playing until the gun accidentally goes off, barely missing them both. +

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

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