1950s Flame Over India (aka Northwest Frontier, 1959)

Published on March 29th, 2011 | by Chris


Flame Over India (aka Northwest Frontier, 1959)

Reviewed by:
On March 29, 2011
Last modified:October 3, 2012


Not sure what else to say. If you want a good, suspense and action-filled Saturday afternoon film for the whole family then Flame Over India is a good bet.

In another browsing-thru-netflix-streaming-WTF-is-this-one? moment, I found this little gem, Northwest Frontier, or Flame Over India.

It takes place in British occupied India, more specifically the territory still squabbled over between India and Pakistan, just after the turn of the century when the British foothold in the region was sketchy at best.

Capt. Scott (Kenneth More) is tasked with transporting the local Indian royalty, a small child, to safety on board a dilapidated old train and one coach.  And, as you can imagine, the fun only increases.

Actually this isn't a bad movie at all.  On the contrary, from the beginning, I found myself drawing parallels in the direction and cinematography to the likes of Lucas and Spielberg.  The pacing and action in the leading battle scene were quite familiar. (The opening "Rank Organization" gong bit in itself, which probably appeared in a lot of films, both of them paid homage to in "Temple of Doom..." But anyway.)

Along with the boy, his American governess Ms. Wyatt (Lauren Bacall), a couple of the British uppity-ups from the palace they just left, an arms dealer, and a turncoat newspaper reporter, they break thru the surrounding Muslim invaders and get into one spot of trouble after another.

Surprisingly it isn't as bad as it sounds. The episodes they get into are perfectly believable given their situation, and there really isn't any point where you throw your hands up and go, "Fffft! yeah, whatever!" which is always a breath of fresh air.  One action-and-suspense filled moment follows the previous, with just enough "down time" in between to make the pacing really excellent.

More reminds me a lot of James Mason here.  A lot.  Probably due to their nearly indistinguishable accent and appearance.  But he holds his own as the "stiff-upper-lip" British soldier.  Bacall seems to be somewhere else throughout most of it however, in a strange 'spaced out' ness I can't really explain.  A couple of gems here are Wilfrid Hyde-White as the tongue-in-cheek funny Bridie, and I.S. Johar as the faithful and funny Gupta, the driver of the immortal "Victoria."

One thing that struck me most interesting, was the subject matter.  The whole Indian-vs-Muslim thing that is still going on today in the region.  It almost lends the picture a certain relevance that you wouldn't otherwise have.  Then there is the treachery of reporter Van Layden (Herbert Lom)....  Which I won't spoil for you here.

Not sure what else to say.  If you want a good, suspense and action-filled Saturday afternoon film for the whole family (although the massacre on the refugee train might be a bit much) then Flame Over India is a good bet.

Unfortunately, much like yesterday's Sabre Jet, I can't seem to find any clips or trailers....  drop me a line if you know of one.

North West Frontier North West Frontier
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BRAND NEW!!! Factory Sealed, Purchased from National Distributor, Discontinued by Manufacturer

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Manufacturer: MGM (Video & DVD)
Original Release Date:
  • Kenneth More
  • Herbert Lom
  • I.S. Johar


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Flame Over India (aka Northwest Frontier, 1959) Chris

Summary: Not sure what else to say. If you want a good, suspense and action-filled Saturday afternoon film for the whole family then Flame Over India is a good bet.


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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.

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