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Monday, February 20, 2012

North West Frontier (released in 1959) - Set in turbulent times in India

North-West Frontier is a movie set in the time of the British raj in India. Starring the sophisticated Lauren Bacall and Kenneth Moore, this drama was directed by Lee Simpson and included the Bollywood actor I.S Johar. It chronicles the tensions between the Hindus and Muslims in the North western frontier province of British India, currently in Pakistan, in the year 1905.
A Hindu Maharajah From the North Western frontier province request Captain Scott to accompany his son to Hazerabad as riots have erupted in their home town. So Captain Scott safely moves the boy to the Governor's residence along with his governess, Mrs Wyatt. Now Hazerabad is also not safe and the Governor washes his hands off the young Prince. So Scott looks around for a transport to take him to Kalapur which is considered as a safe haven. He comes across “The Empress Of India”, an aging train tended lovingly by a retired Engineer, Mr. Gupta. So Gupta, Scott and the Prince Kishan leave under the cover of darkness to Kalapur, accompanied by Mrs. Wyatt, Lady Wyndham, a journalist Mr. Van Huyden and couple of other travelers. Soon the rebels get to know of the departure and the train is pursued vigorously. But Mr. Gupta smashes the train through the cantonment and soon they are on the way.

En-route they come across a refuge train which has been savagely attacked by the Muslim raiders and can rescue only a small baby. Soon a at and mouse game ensues as the train is constantly in danger of an attack. As the journey progresses, Mrs. Wyatt sees a heliograph which is the mode of communication for the attackers. The tension bounds as they know that the attack is imminent. The situation is complicated by the presence of Journalist Van Huyden. He encourages the young prince Kishan to take unwanted risks like dangling on the fly wheel etc. This arouses suspicions about his loyalties. He is many a time caught on the act by the fellow passengers. The last straw comes while on a crossing Van Huyden willingly dangers the prince's life.
Scott now convinced of Van Huyden's duplicity imprisons him in the luggage room. But the raiders destroy a viaduct and shoot Mr. Gupta. In this thrilling and beautifully shot sequence Scott drives the Train through he broken section as the Raiders try to fight them. Van Huyden also escapes and with a machine gun holds the passengers hostage. He is unable to kill the prince as he is outside the engine room. Scott soon arrives to grapple with the villain, whois killed by the spunky Mrs. Wyatt. Soon battered but not lost the engine reaches Kalapur safely and the Prince is handed over.
The movie is well shot even though the Spanish mountains had doubled for the North Western Frontier panorama. The technological innovation and the special effects did make an effect even though we in the age of “Avatar” it might seem a bit primitive. The performances are great with the undercurrent of romance between the brave captain and the spunky Mrs. Wyatt captivating. A good movie comes highly recommended.

North West Frontier (released in 1959) - Set in turbulent times in India starring Lauren Bacall and Kenneth Moore

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