When I saw this ad in this week's Life magazine, I knew I had to try to find the movie! (By the way, the original U.K. title was The Drum) Roger Livesey and Valerie Hobson play a newly married couple (Captain and Margery Carruthers) who have to go to Tokot, in the Northwest Frontier, where a local ruler who has just signed a treaty with the British has been murdered by his evil brother, Ghul Kahn (Raymond Massey, obviously enjoying his villainous role). I'm sure you can guess this film isn't very politically correct. It takes a pro-colonial, paternalistic view of the British Raj. I had to keep reminding myself that when this was filmed, it was meant as a contemporary film and wasn't a period piece like The Charge of the Light Brigade or Gunga Din. It's amazing that only four years before Gandhi's Quit India movement that Indian natives were portrayed as being so completely subservient that any Victorian colonist would have been overjoyed.
However, if you can overlook the pro-colonial, rather racist (although I actually don't think it's meant to be) undertones, the film is pretty entertaining. The young Indian actor Sabu plays Prince Azim, who is forced to flee Tokot when his father is killed and his uncle takes over. Sabu plays every scene with relish and steals the show. Captain Carruthers is honorable, capable and reliable and Margery Carruthers looks very pretty while doing a lot of hand-wringing (although we soon see she's quite capable of taking care of herself if required). The best part? It's completely FREE at Internet Archive. The Drum will also air Monday, December 26, 2011, at 3:15 p.m. CST on TCM.
For your viewing pleasure, screen captures of Margery Carruthers's fantastic wardrobe:
Gorgeous in lamé and chiffon:
Film poster from Wikipedia
The Movie of the Week is That Certain Age, another Deanna Durbin film! This time her co-stars are Jackie Cooper (formerly of Our Gang) and Melvyn Douglas. It's silly and predictable but fun family fare. However, I didn't find it quite as entertaining as Three Smart Girls. Juanita Quigley, playing Jackie Cooper's character's baby sister, is ridiculously cute.
Juanita's on the right. (from All-Star Pics.net)