Bengal Brigade


1h 27m 1954

Film Details

Also Known As
Bengal Rifles, Bengal Tiger
Release Date
Nov 1954
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 27 Oct 1954
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Bengal Tigers by Hall Hunter (New York, 1952).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.00 : 1

Synopsis

On Christmas Day, 1856, in Northeast India's Malakai Pass, English Captain Jeffrey Steven Claybourne leads Britain's Indian soldiers, or Sepoys, into battle against Indian troops rebelling against the past one hundred years of English rule. Colonel Morrow orders both Jeff and Captain Ronald Blaine to attack, but once Jeff's men encounter trouble, Ronald, shaken from an earlier bomb blast, pulls out. Seeing most of his men being slaughtered, Jeff ignores Morrow's command to sacrifice them and leads Ronald's men to victory against the rebels. Immediately afterward, however, he is court-martialed for deliberately disobeying orders. At the trial, Ronald, who loves Jeff's fiancée, Morrow's daughter Vivian, lies that Jeff hit him, after which Jeff declares to the jury that in the future he would again favor his men's lives over the orders of his superiors. Although he is sentenced to a mere suspension, Jeff resigns in disgust. After the trial, Jeff's men gather outside to salute him. At a reception that evening at the Morrows', the colonel presents the British army's new secret weapon, the highest-quality rifle available, to his rival, Indian leader Rajah Karam. With a small smile, Karam notes the need to bite off the tip of the cartridge before loading. While the men talk, Vivian slips out to meet Jeff, who tells her that he loves her deeply but no longer has anything to offer her. On his way out of the city, a village woman named Latah offers her thanks to Jeff for saving her people, and pledges her faithfulness to him. For the next days, Jeff wanders on safari, almost dying when he recklessly faces down a tiger. That night at the safari camp, a man attacks Jeff, and although his men save him, they release the attacker after identifying him as a "messenger" who spreads the word that the British are stealing the souls of the Indians. Returning to the city, Jeff is informed by Latah that the messengers speak of a prophesy promising British defeat after one hundred years of rule. She brings him to the marketplace, where a beggar is warning the Sepoys that the cartridges they bite are greased with the fat of the sacred cow, which puts their souls in danger. Jeff rushes to Morrow to inform him of this dangerous rumor, and although Morrow knows about it and swears the cartridges are smeared with beeswax, he refuses to assuage his troops' fears. The rajah, who considers Jeff more loyal to the Indians than to the English, invites Jeff to the palace. There, the rajah reveals that he has been spreading the rumor about the cow's fat and asks Jeff to lead his troops. He then invites Morrow, Vivian and Ronald to dinner that night, and when he presses Jeff for an answer, Jeff accepts the post of general, and the British guests brand him a traitor. Upon hearing that Jeff discussed the cow-fat rumor with Morrow earlier, the rajah also denounces Jeff, and has his soldiers attack him in the street. After Jeff is stabbed and left to die, Latah brings him back to her village to nurse him back to health. Just when he is well enough to stand, rebel Sepoys enter the village, forcing him to flee back to the city, which he finds devastated and abandoned. At the same time, Ronald also returns from a distant assignment, and the two search for Vivian. Ronald panics and shoots at his sergeant-major, Puran Singh, who was actually trying to keep the Sepoys from killing the white men. Jeff pushes Ronald's gun away in time to save Puran Singh, who calls Jeff his brother and lets them escape. As they run, they meet Hari Lal, Morrow's aide, who pledges his allegiance and informs them of Morrow's hideout in the swamp. There, Morrow welcomes Jeff, who avoids Vivian and stands watch. In the middle of the night, Hari Lal returns with Puran Singh and the soldiers and reveals himself to be a captain in the rajah's army. They arrest the British citizens, but on the way back to the palace, Jeff escapes and is tracked by Puran Singh. When the others reach the palace, the rajah kills Hari Lal for allowing Jeff to escape and orders Morrow shot. Just then, the rajah sees Puran Singh arriving with Jeff, and places Jeff before the firing squad. Puran Singh insists that his men be allowed to kill Jeff, but before commanding them to shoot, he whispers to them to remember who saved them at the Malakai Pass, and no one fires. The rajah shoots at Puran Singh and the Sepoys turn against the royal cavalry. As the battle rages, Ronald throws himself in front of a knife meant for Vivian, and before dying confesses that he lied at the court-martial. After Jeff kills the rajah, the royal troops surrender. Soon after, Morrow reinstates Jeff as captain. When Puran Singh reminds Jeff that the Sepoys still dream of freedom for India, Jeff promises that day will come, and until then, they will remain brothers. Jeff and Vivian then bid goodbye to Latah and leave the city together.

Film Details

Also Known As
Bengal Rifles, Bengal Tiger
Release Date
Nov 1954
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 27 Oct 1954
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Bengal Tigers by Hall Hunter (New York, 1952).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.00 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Bengal Rifles and Bengal Tiger. The film begins with the following written foreword: "Christmas, 1856, Northeast India. The approaching anniversary of one hundred years of British rule has brought growing unrest and occasional uprisings among the natives. The famed Bengal Rifles Regiment, Indian soldiers commanded by British officers, have pursued Siri Nath's rebels to the mountain fortress of Malakai Pass." According to a November 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item, Rudolph Maté was originally set to direct the film, with Tyrone Power as star. A July 1953 Daily Variety article reports that Power withdrew from the film because of his full schedule. The Hollywood Reporter review calls Bengal Brigade "a typical Ty Power picture."

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall October 1954

Released in United States Fall October 1954