The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935)

The Lives of a Bengal LancerLives of a Bengal Lancer Poster
Directed by Henry Hathaway
Paramount Pictures

First viewing


Lieutenant Alan McGregor: Why? Well – well, there’s some things they don’t teach you in military college – can’t, I guess. India is big, you know, there’s over three hundred million people, and run by just a handful of men. The – the job comes first. Like old ramrod. You can’t let death move you, nor love. And it’s like – and how can I tell you what it’s all about when I don’t know myself?

In this unexpected gem, Col. Tom Stone (Sir. Guy Standing) commands a regiment of the Bengal Lancers that is patrolling the northeast border of British India fighting skirmishes with rebels who hide out in the mountains (of Afghanistan?) .  Lt. McGregor (Gary Cooper) greatly resents the colonel’s by-the-books manner.  Two fresh replacements arrive, Lt. Forsythe (Franchot Tone) and Lt. Stone, the colonel’s son (Richard Cromwell).  Forsythe is a wise cracking pro but Stone is fresh out of Sandhurst and has a lot to learn.  To add to his problems, the colonel is determined that there should be no special relationship between father and son.   The tension rises when a shipment of ammunition is diverted by the rebels due to a miscalculation by Lt. Stone.

Lives of a Bengal Lancer 1

This was a really excellent film and even had me in tears at the end.  All the acting is good but I particularly enjoyed Guy Standing’s turn as the colonel who must balance duty with fatherly love.  It has the blessed advantage of no romantic subplot so it can concentrate on questions of honor and loyalty.  It also delivers on the action and bantering comedy fronts.  Warmly recommended.

The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.



4 thoughts on “The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935)

  1. It is part of a Gary Cooper collection I just bought. I’m looking forward to it!
    Includes Design for Living (1933/92 min.), Peter Ibbetson (1935/86 min.), The General Died at Dawn (1936/99 min.), Beau Geste (1939/114 min.) and The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935/110 min.).

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