Guns at Batasi

Guns at Batasi

Infobox Film
name = Guns at Batasi

image_size =
caption =
director = John Guillermin
producer = George H. Brown
writer = Leo Marks
C. M. Pennington-Richards
Marshall Pugh
Robert Holles (novel)
narrator =
starring = Richard Attenborough
Jack Hawkins
Flora Robson
music = John Addison
cinematography = Douglas Slocombe
editing = Max Benedict
distributor = Twentieth Century Fox
released = 16 November 1964 (U.S.)
runtime = 103 m
country = UK
language = English
budget =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id =
imdb_id = 0058166

"Guns at Batasi" (1964) is a film set in East Africa during the last days of the British Empire.

The film was based on the novel "The Siege of Battersea" by John Holles, and starred Richard Attenborough, Jack Hawkins, Flora Robson, John Leyton, Mia Farrow, and Cecil Parker.

A group of veteran British sergeants, headed by an ultra-correct, order-barking regimental sergeant major, are caught between two dissident factions in a newly-created African state. The story neatly exposes the feelings of the professional NCOs, their officers and the African soldiers and officers, who are still painfully new to both guns and political slogans.

With the men cut off in the sergeants' mess during a mutiny, the melodrama boils down to the initiative and confusion of the griping, duty-hardened British soldiers in defending themselves against their former charges, and the clashes in authority between the warring Africans. It is, of course, a minor action, limited to the barracks at Batasi, but it illustrates an erupting new world the so-called common man, both black and white, find difficult to comprehend or take.

As the sergeant major, who is as stiff as a ramrod and an unblinking slave to the letter of military law, Richard Attenborough plays a proper hero to his tough mates, who are not averse to mimicking him. In the face of attack by African troops and a Bofors gun or a showdown with the African leader of the revolt, he proves his mettle in unflinching, steely style. Mr. Attenborough's opportunities to ham it up are many, but even in the face of climactic orders to return to England he delivers a shaded performance that gives stature and meaning to what could have been a stereotyped role.

Errol John, as the mutinous officer, and Earl Cameron, as the African commander he displaces and wounds, are hard and relentless, while Percy Herbert, David Lodge, Bernard Horsfall, John Meillon and Graham Stark are properly tough, efficient and wise-cracking as the British sergeants. John Leyton, as a youthful private, Mia Farrow, eldest daughter of the late director John Farrow, and Maureen O'Sullivan, who is making her debut as a United Nations secretary, lend a touch of youthful romance to the proceedings in the roles of a couple of voyagers stranded in the barracks during the clash.

Jack Hawkins contributes some typical British restraint as the commandant of Batasi in a performance that hardly taxes him. And Flora Robson, as a visiting Member of Parliament shocked and confused by the sudden turn of events, states the film's theme precisely: "I disapprove of their methods as I do of yours" she tells the doughty Regimental Sergeant Major played by Attenborough.

External links

*imdb title | id = 0058166 | title = Guns at Batasi

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