The film begins with Flashman making a patriotic speech to the boys of Rugby School framed by a giant Union Flag, in a scene which appears to be a parody of the opening sequence in the 1970 film Patton. There is a brief flashback to the events of the original Flashman, with the head of the Rugby School recounting Flashman’s exploits in Afghanistan.
The film then follows the plot of the book, which itself largely derives from The Prisoner of Zenda. Flashman is forced by Otto von Bismarck to impersonate a Danish prince, who is about to marry a German princess. Bismarck exacts this retribution partly in revenge for Bismarck’s humiliation at the hands of Flashman in London; Flashman stole Bismarck’s mistress Lola Montez, then manoeuvred him into boxing against a professional boxer, John Gully, at a house party. Bismarck does not wish the Princess to marry a Dane, since this may tilt the balance on the Schleswig-Holstein Question and interfere with his plans for a united Germany. —Wikipedia
If any single director can encapsulate the popular image of Britain in the Swinging Sixties, then it is probably Richard Lester. With his use of flamboyant cinematic devices and liking for zany humour, he captured the vitality, and sometimes the triviality, of the period more vividly than any other director. This has been somewhat to the detriment of his later work which, whilst more conventional in style, has qualities which have been overshadowed by his fashionable earlier output.
Lester was born in Philadelphia, USA, on 19 January 1932. After graduating in clinical psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, he began his career in American television as a stagehand, rising to become a director at just 20. He left for Europe in 1954, settling in Britain in 1956.
His sympathy for anarchic comedy made him an ideal director for the television series A Show Called Fred (ITV, 1956), where he worked with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. He teamed up with them again for… read more
McDowell is really too good for the film; nice supporting turns from Reed & Bates, but Lester's staging of action-comedy is sometimes stupefying. Too often he undercuts the jokes, underplays the physical gags or altogether puts the damned camera in the wrong place. Nice costumes; but the failure of Royal Flash to become a Bond-like franchise of historical romps is obvious once you've seen it bungled so thoroughly.