Black SplatThe Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935)

"We have ways of making men talk!"

The Lives of a Bengal Lancer - Mohammad Khan speaks with Lt. McGregor

Description: - Douglas Dumbrille as Indian tyrant Mohammad Khan threatening vile torture (bamboo shoots under the nails) to captured members of a British Bengal Lancers division if they don’t cooperate in the motion picture The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935).

"1750 to 1! Always out-numbered! Never out-fought! These are the Bengal Lancers...heroes all...guarding each other's lives, sharing each other's tortures, fighting each other's battles..." - Movie Tagline

This is the story of the British 41st Bengal Lancers stationed in the northwest frontier of India in the 19th century. Members of the brigade consist of:

  • Lt. Alan McGregor (Gary Cooper), a Scottish-Canadian who is given the responsibility of training two new recruits to the outpost.
  • Lt. Barrett (Colin Tapley) who discovers the Khan is planning an uprising
  • Lt. Forsythe (Franchot Tone), an arrogant new recruit to the outpost
  • Lt. Donald Stone (Richard Cromwell), an immature new recruit to the outpost, as well as being the Colonel's son. He believes his father's cold demeanor is a sign that he does not care for him.
  • Col. Tom Stone (Guy Standing), harsh outpost commander and Donald's father who snubs his son in an attempt to appear impartial with this troops.
  • Maj. Hamilton (C. Aubrey Smith) who considers the Colonel one of the finest men in the British army.

Soon after Lt. Barrett reports a possible uprising lead by Afridi rebel Mohammad Khan, the wily Indian kidnaps and tortures Lt. Donald Stone in an attempt to learn about the arrival of an ammunitions caravan to the outpost.

Although, his son is captured, the Colonel hides his true feelings and does what is needed for the safety of his troops and thus refuses to come to his son's aid. His seemingly callous behavior is misinterpreted by Lt. McGregor who expresses his frustration to Maj. Hamilton who considers the Colonel an excellent officer.

Lt. McGregor: [talking about Col. Stone] Why can't he be a little less of a soldier and more of a man? Why can't he forget his blasted duty for once?
Maj. Hamilton: Man, you ARE blind! Have you never thought how, for generation after generation here, a handful of men have ordered the lives of 300 million people? It's because he's here, and a few more like him! Men of his breed have MADE British India. Men who put their jobs above everything. He wouldn't let death move him from it. But he won't let love move him from it. When his breed of man dies out - that's the end. And it's a better breed of man than any of us will ever make. Good night, gentlemen.

The Lives of a Bengal Lancer - McGregor, Forsythe and Stone imprisoned by the Khan

In an attempt to uphold the honor of the regiment, McGregor and Forsythe disobey the Colonel's orders disguised as Indian peddlers and travel to the Khan's fortress to release Lt. Stone from captivity, but they too are captured. Meanwhile, Lt. Stone breaks under torture and gives the Khan the information needed to capture the ammunition caravan.

The Lives of a Bengal Lancer - McGregor and Forsythe battle the Khan

In the end, McGregor, Forsythe and Stone escape their captors, blow up the illegally acquired ammunition and Stone kills the Khan. Unfortunately, McGregor dies in the attempt.

Note: This now classic veiled-threat has since been turned into the phrase “Vee have vays” when spoken by the many Nazi villains portrayed on the silver screen and TV.

In the film The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) Lewis Stone as Scotland Yard Inspector Nayland Smith recalls the evil of Asian madman Fu Manchu (Boris Karloff) who said, “In the East they have ways of shattering the strongest courage.”

The Lives of a Bengal Lancer - Movie Poster

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