"The Defence of Rorke's Drift" by Alphonse de Neuville (1879-90)

(Dir. Cy Endfield) (1963)

This episode in the Anglo-Zulu War pitted some 4,500 against about 150, which shows how important fortifications (strategically useless) can be tactically decisive. The film is a pretty good treatment of the heroic skirmish, in which 11 Victorian Crosses were garnered, and great and good actors display stiff upper lips on both sides: we single out for praise Stanley Baker as the leader of the British defence (a much nicer role than his slimy turn in Accident), Michael Caine as the second in command, the wonderfully named Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead…


…Nigel Green as the stern, stout Colour-Sergeant, and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi as the Zulu chieftain (who was his great-grandfather in real life). Many “types” fill the other spots and Richard Burton supplies mellifluous narration.  This is L’s father’s favourite film, and while it shows its age, its terrific location and finely filmed battle-scenes still stir the blood.



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