The Black Watch. 1929. USA. Directed by John Ford. With Victor McLaglen, Myrna Loy, David Torrence. 93 min.
John Ford’s first talking feature suffers from many of the problems of early sound—not least, a pair of leads, Victor McLaglen and Myrna Loy, who had little experience with dialogue. (In his documentary Holllywood, Kevin Browlow rather cruelly used a scene with the two of them to illustrate the apocalypse of sound). Based on Talbot Mundy’s junior imperialist fantasy King of the Khyber Rifles, the plot finds McLaglen as a British Army captain who is sent to India to neutralize an uprising led by a charismatic, scantily clad princess (Loy, still in her “exotic” period). Ford’s touch is most strongly felt in a sequence in which British troops take leave of their families as they depart for the front. 35mm print from MoMA’s archive