On the January 22nd 1879 the British Army suffered one of its worst defeats when Zulu forces massacred 1,500 of its troops at Isandlhwana. A short time after the main battle a Zulu force numbering in excess of 4000 warriors advanced on a British hospital and supply dump guarded by 139 Welsh infantrymen. The film concentrates on this bloody 12 hour battle during which the British force, under their commander from the Royal Engineers who happened to be in the area building a bridge and happened to be senior to the infantry officer, won 11 Victoria Crosses. While taking some liberties with history the film follows reality fairly closely, including matching exactly the identities of the VC winners. —IMDb
Cyril Raker Endfield (November 10, 1914 – April 16, 1995) was an American screenwriter, film director, theatre director, author, magician and inventor, based in Britain from 1953.
Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, after attending Yale University, Endfield began his career as a theatre director and drama coach, becoming an important figure in New York’s progressive theatre scene. Despite this shared background, it was largely Endfield’s skill as a card magician which brought him to the attention of Orson Welles, who recruited him as an apprentice for Mercury Productions (at that time based at RKO Pictures). Following the debacle surrounding the production of The Magnificent Ambersons (which ended with the expulsion of the Mercury team from the RKO lot) Endfield signed on as a contract director at MGM, directing a wide variety of shorts (including the last films in the long-running Our Gang series), before moving on to freelance on low-budget productions for Monogram and independents… read more
Ultra-authentic sets, locations, costumes but it’s not complete. The characters seem merely play-actors. This is perhaps due to John Prebbles' script. The film never really escapes the feeling of being a treatise on the arrogance of imperialism. Patrick Magee as Surgeon Reynolds gets to utter the Author's Message when futility laboring over a dying man on the operating table he says to the British commanding officer: "Damn you Chard, damn all you butchers!" As far as the controversy regarding the film's depiction of period facial hair goes, I'll toss in my two cents: too much on the Zulus and not enough on the British... but what do I know? … And introducing Michael Cain!
Welsh movie star Stanley Baker (“Yesterday’s Enemy” & “How Green Was My Valley”) reunites with blacklisted American screenwriter and director Cy Endfield (“Hell Drivers” & “Universal Soldier”… read review