- Northwest Frontier
name = Northwest Frontier
caption = Lobby card (L to R
Ian Hunter, Kenneth More, Lauren Bacall, Jack Gwillim)
J. Lee Thompson
Robin Estridge Frank S. Nugent Will Price
Kenneth More Lauren Bacall Herbert Lom Wilfrid Hyde-White I.S. Johar
editing = Frederick Wilson
distributor = Rank
released = 1959
runtime = 129 min.
language = English
imdb_id = 0053126
"Northwest Frontier" (retitled "Flame Over India" in the U.S.) is a 1959 British adventure
filmstarring Kenneth Moreand Lauren Bacall. The film was directed by J. Lee Thompsonfrom a screenplay by Robin Estridge, and features Wilfrid Hyde-White, Herbert Lomand I. S. Johar.
The film is set in the
North-West Frontier Provinceof British India, which now lies within modern Pakistan. The film explores tensions between Hindu and Moslem Indians as well as examining the role of the British Empire at the start of the twentieth century.
In 1905, in the Northwestern Province of British India, a British Army officer Captain Scott (Kenneth More) has been charged with the task of conveying the young Hindu Prince Kishan from his father's palace before a Muslim rebellion to the safety of the Governor's Residence in the nearest town of Hazerabad. Accompanying them is Prince Kishan's American Nanny/Governess, widower Mrs Wyatt (Lauren Bacall). As the party reach the nearby foothills the rebels appear and enter the palace and kill the Maharajah. En route they must leave their horses and continue on foot.
When the party reaches Hazerabad they struggle through the local Hindu population who are thronging into the fortified Residency. At the same time the civilian Europeans are leaving on the last train which is also packed with refugees. When they arrive at the Governor's House Captain Scott is shown into the Governor's office to discus the situation, while Mrs Wyatt & Prince Kishan go with Lady Wyndham for a wash and rest. One European, Mr Peters is desperate to get to Dehli for an armaments conference. Mrs Wyatt overhears the the officers discussion and enters room to take part in the conversation which affects her as closely as anyone. Sir John tells them that the last train has gone but they should be quite safe in the Residence. Mrs Wyatt points out that the rebellion is not like usual ones as opposing Princes are fighting together on the same side.
At this point the Muslim rebels close in on Hazerbad and take control of the outer wall and gate beside the railway yard. Captain Scott goes down to the railway yard to find that there is one old battered carriage and The Empress of India (affectionately called Victoria by Gupta her driver)an old engine left for yard shunting duties. Captain asks Gupta how fast Victoria could "pulling just one coach" Gupta replies 50 miles an hour but on prompting by Capatian admits more like 40.
Captain Scott returns to the Governor's house to tell them his plan. In the drawing room are all of the above including Mr Bridie, the Governor's assistant, the Officer in charge of the garrison and his adjutant. Captain 's plan is to build up a head of steam, but to start moving by being pushed out of the station yard by soldiers. Then as they pass through the gate use the downward gradient to build up speed to smash through the outer gate and steam on to Kalapore (the next large town along the line which is in a Hindu area). During the meeting the Dutch-Indian "halfblood" Journalist Mr Van Lyden bursts in and threatens to tell the refugees of the plan "who would tear the train to pieces rather than let it leave without them" if he is not allowed on.
Early next morning, Captain Scott, Mrs Wyatt, Prince Kishan, Mr Peters, Mr Van Lyden, Lady Wyndham (who would rather remain with her husband) & two Indian soldiers board the train. Everything goes according to plan. All the passengers lie down on the floor and Victoria rolls through the inner gate. However as she rolls downhill her whistle accidentally goes off (she is prone to this and it is corrected by a bang on the valve with a hammer and a telling off by Gupta). Unfortunately this wakes up the sleeping rebels who start to fire at and chase the train. Now with no need to be quiet Gupta opens up the valves and they speed toward the shut outer gate, which they smash through (with the help of a makeshift wooden ram) and steam off to Kalapore.
After a few hours the approach an abandoned station where they find the refugee train that had left the day before. Capatain Scott & the 2 soldiers run ahead of the train to find that all of the Indian and Europeans have been killed. They return to the train. Captain Scott and Mrs Wyatt argue as to whether anyone could still be alive. as the train starts off she jumps down and searches through the bodies on the platform and in the train and returns with a small baby who was covered with his mother's body. Captain Scott admits he was wrong. They use one of Mr Bridies' wicker cases to make a bed for the baby which they name India.
While traveling along Lady Wyndham asks Mr Van Lyden to pass her her pigskin case which he shows some reluctance to do.
Later on that day they stop at a pumping station to fill up Victoria's water tanks. While they are carrying water, Mr Van Lyden and Prince Kishan are minding the pump. When they are finish Captain Scott walks in to find him allowing Prince Kishan to stand dangerously close to the flywheel.
During the night while everyone is asleep Mr Van Lyden is watching Prince Kishan sleeping and moves towards him only to notice Lady Wyndham staring at him. Next morning the train has to stop when one of the rails has been blown up. The passengers decide to roll the train up to the broken rail then remove one from behind the train and replace it in front. this will however leave them exposed for a while with no track behind or in front. While they are doing this Prince Kishan notices something move in the hills nearby. Lady Wyndham recognises this as a
Heliograph(a reflective surface used to convey messages using the sunlight). As the track is being secured rebels descend and begin to fire on the train. Gupta throws coals onto the dried bushes on the embankment to prevent them from getting to the train and is shot in the leg while doing this. The train then pulls off to safety.
Later on they reach a large viaduct bridge which has been blow up, though only partially leaving the track intact though unsupported in places. All the passengers disembark and carefully cross the track. While passing Prince Kishan, Mr Van Lyden holds him short and he nearly falls. Victoria and the carriage slowly cross the unsupported section driven by Captain Scott. As they all return to the train Captain X questions Van Lyden who turns out to be a Muslim, he is put under arrest in the luggage compartment.
As the train passes through a tunnel Mr Van Lyden overpowers his guard and holds the passengers hostage, except for Captain Scott, Prince Kishan and the other soldier who are with the engine. All the passengers are asked to stand up in the aisle where there can be seen. However out of site is Gupta. Mrs Wyatt remembers him and moves to block the view of the door to the engine. Gupta makes a dash to ward them but is too slow with his wounded leg. Van Lyden reveals he will shoot Prince Kishan when he enters the carriage. As they enter there is a scuffles and a fight ensues. Captain Scott follows Van Lyden to the roof of the carriage. Just as Van Lyden is about to shoot him he is shot by Mrs Wyatt from the Victoria's footplate. At this point the rebels make a last ditch attempt to attack the train. They chase the train on horseback until the train enters a 2 mile tunnel. When they reach the other side they are in the safety of a British controlled Hindu province. When the train finally arrives at Kalapore they learn that the rebels left Hazerbad after the train left and Sir John Wyndham is safe. They all go their separate ways and Prince Kishan asks Captain Scott if he will have to fight him ad his father hold told him that they must fight the British to make them leave.
Kenneth Moreas Captain Scott
Lauren Bacallas Catherine Wyatt
Herbert Lomas Van Layden
Wilfred Hyde-Whiteas Mr. Bridie
I. S. Joharas Gupta, the engineer
Ursula Jeansas Lady Wyndham, the Governor's Wife
Eugene Deckersas Mr. Peters
*Ian Hunter as Sir John Wyndham, the Governor
Jack Gwillimas Brigadier Ames
*Govind Raja Ross as Prince Kishan
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