In northwestern India soon after the turn of the 20th Century, Moslem rebels seek to kill a six-year-old Hindu prince to end his family line. Captain Scott of the British Army is ordered to get the prince out of the region safely. Adventure ensues as Scott sneaks the child away, through Moslem-held territory, by train. Also on board are the boy's American governess, an arms merchant, a cynical reporter, and two upper class Britons.
Kenneth More ... Capt. Scott
Lauren Bacall ... Catherine Wyatt
Herbert Lom ... Van Layden
Wilfrid Hyde-White ... Bridie (as Wilfrid Hyde White)
I.S. Johar ... Gupta
Ursula Jeans ... Lady Windham
Eugene Deckers ... Peters
Ian Hunter ... Sir John Wyndham
Jack Gwillim ... Brig. Ames
Govind Raja Ross ... Prince Kishan
Basil Hoskins ... Aide-de-camp
S.M. Asgaralli ... Havildar - 1st Indian Soldier
S.S. Chowdhary ... 2nd Indian Soldier
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Runtime: 129 min
Based on a story by Patrick Ford, the son of the legendary John, 'North West Frontier' clearly owes a debt to Ford seniors classic 'Stagecoach' as a mixed group of travellers set out on a perilous journey. In its own way, 'North West Frontier' matches that Hollywood classic in quality. After a stunning opening twenty minutes where barely a line of dialogue is spoken, the movie lives up to the old cliché of "offering a roller-coaster ride of excitement", something which is much promised but seldom delivered.
Kenneth More is one of my favourite actors and he is wonderful in this. Perhaps his character lacks the neurotic edge that the late Sir John Mills brought to the directors earlier movie 'Ice Cold In Alex' (a movie which shares plot elements with this one), but instead More brings an air of honest decency to the part. The evocatively named "Captain Scott" is no super-hero, but simply an honest man trying to do a difficult job.
Lauren Bacall also gives a fine performance, in a role which could easily have been the film's weakest link as a token Hollywood 'big name' for the American market. While the likes of Lom and Hyde White fill their roles with practised ease as I. S Gupta steals every scene he is in.
At over two hours it is a long movie, yet the 129 minutes seem to fly by and I was genuinely sad to bid farewell to the passengers and crew of the 'Empress of India', while the 'Eaton Boating Song' played in my head for day afterwards.