Monday, July 19, 2010

Olivia Doesn't Love Errol

This week, we looked at The Charge of the Light Brigade, another Warner Brothers attempt at rewriting history.  Errol Flynn plays Major Geoffrey Vickers, a military officer in India who is engaged to Elsa Campbell (Olivia de Havilland).  Only problem is, Elsa had fallen in love with Geoffrey's younger brother Captain Perry Vickers (Patric Knowles) while both were in Calcutta (and Geoffrey was off on a mission).  Naturally, this causes a falling-out between the brothers, and some antagonism from Elsa's father (Donald Crisp), who MUCH prefers the gallant Major Vickers to his office-bound sibling.

When all the inhabitants of Chukoti are massacred by Surat Khan (who spares Geoffrey and Elsa because of a debt he owes to Geoffrey), revenge becomes the goal of the Light Brigade.  And Geoffrey, who has nothing to live for without Elsa, is the leader in the Light Brigade's charge to kill Surat Khan (who has escaped to the Crimea!)

What any of this has to do with the actual Charge is a mystery.  They use a few lines from Tennyson, and the costuming is pretty much on target, but any other relation to history is purely coincidental.  The appeal of the film though, lies not in its plot; the movie is all Flynn.  If there is a problem with it, it's just that it is hard to understand why Olivia would prefer Patric Knowles to Flynn (No offence to Knowles, but he has NOTHING on Flynn.  An attractive man, Patric Knowles just does not have the electricity that Flynn brings to all his roles.)

The ending scene is glorious. So what if it is totally wrong? Only the Warner Brothers could make you think that the British actually WON the Charge of the Light Brigade!

Next week, we'll join Olivia and Errol again as the rewrite history.