The Charge of the Light Brigade. 1936. USA. Directed by Michael Curtiz. Screenplay by Michael Jacoby, Rowland Leigh, from a poem by Alred Lord Tennyson. With Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Patric Knowles, Nigel Bruce, David Niven. 35mm. 115 min.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s 1854 poem in praise of the British troops who bravely charged into a Russian artillery battery during the Crimean War is adapted—quite liberally—into a colonial adventure film. The famously pointless charge (based on a miscommunication) has been given a point by screenwriters Michael Jacoby and Rowland Leigh: vengeance upon a perfidious Asian khan (C. Henry Gordon) who did the British dirty in India. Flynn, in what was only his second leading role, hasn’t quite nailed down the ease and exuberance of his later work, but director Michael Curtiz shines in the expansive staging of the battle sequences, which seem to cover several acres of familiar Lone Pine locations.