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Character Actor
Captain Harry Flashman/Prince Carl Gustaf Malcolm McDowell
Rudi Von Starnberg Alan Bates
Lola Montez Florinda Bolkan
Otto von Bismarck Oliver Reed
De Gautet Tom Bell
Sapten Joss Ackland
Eric Hansen Christopher Cazenove
John Gully, M.P. Henry Cooper
Kraftstein Lionel Jeffries
Mr. Greig, lawyer Alastair Sim
Headmaster Michael Hordern
Duchess Irma Britt Ekland
Josef Richard Pearson
  Alan Howland
Police Constable Bob Hoskins
Detchard Richard Hurndall
  Arthur Brough
Baroness Pechman Elizabeth Larner
Lady at Duel Margaret Courtenay
Speedicut Stuart Rayner
Grundwig Leon Greene
The Mayor David Jason
Lord Chamberlain Noel Johnson
Fireman Ben Aris
Helga Rula Lenska
Police Inspector Bob Peck
English General John Stuart
Lieutenant Frank Grimes
Tom Brown Paul Burton
1st Girl Tessa Dahl
2nd Girl Claire Russell
Lucy Kubi Chaza
Policeman David Stern
Barmaid Meg Davis
Master Roger Hammond
Old Rouse Roy Kinnear

Directed by Richard Lester
Screenplay based on his novel - George MacDonald Fraser


Produced by Denis O'Dell and David V. Picker
Photographed by Geoffrey Unsworth, B.S.C.
Production Designer - Terence Marsh
Music Adapted and Directed by Ken Thorne
Original music © MCMLXXV Twentieth Century Music Corporation Limited
All rights reserved
 Production Manager - Barrie Melrose
Costume Designer - Alan Barrett
2nd unit Photography - Paul Wilson
Camera Operator - Peter MacDonald
Art Director - Alan Tomkins
German Production Manager - Hubert Fröhlich
Assistant Directors - Vincent Winter, Dusty Symonds
Assistant to Mr. Lester - Pepe Lopez Rodero
Fight Director - William Hobbs
Stunt Arranger - Richard Graydon
Sound Recordists - Gerry Humphreys, Simon Kaye
Sound editors - Don Sharpe, Paul Smith
Continuity - Ann Skinner
Production Secretary - Vicki Deason
Casting Director - Mary Selway
Make-up - Paul Rabiger
Hairdresser - Colin Jamison
Unit Publicist - Gordon Arnell
Stills Photographer - Keith Hamshere
Property Master - Eddie Fowlie
Special Effects - John Richardson
Property Buyer - John Lanzer
Set Dresser - Peter Howitt
 Construction Manager - Peter Dukelow
Gaffer - Maurice Gillett

Production Services by Topaz Production Company
Color by Technicolor
Prints by De Luxe
Filmed with Panavision Equipment
Copyright © MCMLXXV Zeeuwse Maatschappij N.V.
All Rights Reserved
All characters and events in this film are fictitious.
Any similarity to actual events or persons living or
dead is purely coincidental
Filmed on location in Germany, and at
Twickenham Film Studios, London, England
Released by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation


Flash man
Telegraph Group Limited 4/16/06

    As the notorious Victorian soldier and unrepentant cad limbers up for his latest adventure, his creator George MacDonald Fraser tells Saul David why the 19th century had the most interesting wars. Fraser, a former journalist who in the 1960s hit on the brilliant idea of hijacking the fictional character of Flashman from Thomas Hughes's bestselling Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857). In the foreword to his latest book, Flashman on the March, set during the Abyssinian Campaign of 1868. That was a war, he writes pointedly, that "served no politician's vanity or interest. It went without messianic rhetoric. There were no false excuses, no deceits, no cover-ups or lies, just a decent resolve to do a government's first duty: to protect its people, whatever the cost."
    Fraser is making a rare public appearance at the Bath Literary Festival and I've arranged to meet him at his hotel. I'm nervous. He's my literary hero, and if I hadn't read his Flashman novels as a boy I probably wouldn't have become a historian. I certainly wouldn't have written four books on the wars of the Victorian period. But admiring an author is one thing, getting to know him quite another.
    We don't get off to the smoothest start. I'm on time but Fraser himself has only just arrived, thanks to a delayed flight from the Isle of Man (where he has been in tax exile since the early 1970s), and needs an hour to freshen up. He reappears to the minute, smart in a blazer and open-necked shirt, with a wide friendly face and a hearty laugh.
    He still retains his Scottish lilt, and looks incredibly well for his 80 years. As well he might. Flashman on the March, the 12th installment in the adventures of the notorious Victorian soldier-cad, has sold more hardbacks than any of its predecessors. Fraser says his publishers did a "terrific job" and thinks the high sales might have something to do with the two books - Flashman at the Charge and Flash for Freedom - that he recently adapted for Radio 4.
    The book is a welcome return to form, with Flashman as unrepentantly caddish as ever during his perilous mission into deepest Abyssinia to rescue Britons held hostage by mad King Theodore. En route he grapples (in both senses of the word) with "leather-clad nymphs" and "warriors who decorate their lances with the courting-tackle of their enemies". He only narrowly keeps his own courting-tackle.
    No scene better illustrates his ruthless sense of self-preservation than when, suspended over a waterfall, he sacrifices his Abyssinian lover to save his own skin. "Better one should go than two, and greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down someone else's life for his own."
    Given the huge popularity of the Flashman novels, it seems odd that only one, Royal Flash (a send-up of Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda), has been made into a film. Fraser is, after all, an experienced screenwriter whose credits include The Three Musketeers (1973), the James Bond film Octopussy (1983) and the aforementioned Royal Flash (1975), starring Malcolm McDowell. That expertise, it seems, is part of the problem. "I will not let anyone else have control of the script," he explains, "and that simply does not happen in Hollywood."
    There's also another reason, he thinks, for the dearth of Flashman films: no suitable British actor. I suggest Daniel Day-Lewis. He's not entirely convinced. "He's probably getting on a bit," he says (Day-Lewis is 48), before conceding: "He's probably the best around. I was very impressed with his Gangs of New York."
    At his festival talk that evening he is more taken with the idea. "Someone suggested today that Daniel Day-Lewis might make a Flashman - and on reflection I think he would. He's bbig, he's got presence and he's got style." Fraser's all-time favorite for the role, however, is Errol Flynn. "It wasn't just his looks and his style. He had that shifty quality."
    Fraser read Tom Brown's Schooldays as a boy and immediately saw the drunk bully Flashman as the unacknowledged "star" of the book. Tiring of journalism in the mid-1960s (he was assistant editor of the Glasgow Herald), he decided to use Hughes's creation as the anti-hero in his own Victorian adventure story.
    The timing was perfect. Flashman is expelled from Rugby at about the same time that Queen Victoria comes to the throne and the ill-fated First Afghan War begins. Hence, the first book, Flashman (1969), is set in Afghanistan, with our cowardly hero emerging from the disastrous Retreat from Kabul with his reputation enhanced.
    Does Fraser share any traits with his fictional creation, an inveterate womanizer who, more by luck than judgment, always ends up smelling of roses? "No - but I do share his general philosophy. I'm rather a cynic, I suppose. I do not believe in the niceness of humanity."
    Yet even Flashman is not all bad and seems to have a genuine affection for many of his lovers. "Yes," agrees Fraser, "he falls for a lot of them - temporarily at any rate. He really loves Elspeth [his wife], there's no question about it. But the thing about Flashman's women, and I think this is what appeals to female readers, is that they invariably get the better of him."
    There's no better example of this than the diabolical revenge that the ex-slave Cleonie takes on Flashman for callously selling her to the Apaches almost 30 years earlier. She lures him into Indian country and arranges his kidnap by Sioux braves. He survives of course, but only just, and not without suffering a partial scalping at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
    Fraser chose to write about the Victorian era because, in his view, its wars are the most interesting. "The Empire is at its height and no other country has got that kind of background, that century of adventure and glamour. I'm always asked why I haven't written about the American Civil War. One reason is that, by comparison, it's deadly dull."
    He is an unashamed fan of the British Empire, and is delighted that revisionist historians such as Niall Ferguson (and myself) now feel able to write about it in a more objective way. "With all its faults, it's just about the best thing that's happened to an undeserving world. If there's an idea of fair play and honest government and what is democracy today, then it's because of Britain."
    It would have been a "good thing", he adds, if the Empire hadn't ended when it did. Fraser was in Bangalore training to be an officer in 1946, the year before Indian independence, and remembers that the "great majority" of Indian cadets were keen for the British to stay "because they knew that under the Raj they would get a fair shake in the army". But the Labour government was determined to "get rid of India", rushed independence and "two million people died".
    In a recent poll of prominent historians, Fraser was voted the historical novelist most likely to get it right. So exhaustively researched are the Flashman novels that when the first one appeared in 1969 almost a third of American reviewers, academics among them, were taken in by Fraser's conceit that the story was based on a newly discovered manuscript.
    "One guy said it was the most extraordinary discovery since the Boswell Papers," he laughs. "And he was a professor of either history or English." As recently as three years ago he received a letter from an American PhD student asking to see the Flashman Papers. "People want to believe it, that's the thing."
    Yet Fraser is adamant that historical novelists should never tamper with the facts. Of the many real-life people who have appeared in the Flashman novels - from Disraeli to Queen Victoria, General Sir Colin Campbell to Lola Montez - he has taken liberties with only two: the Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck ("but he was such a swine anyway that I figured that was all right") and Count Nicholas Ignatieff, the "gotch-eyed" Russian secret agent who tries repeatedly to murder Flashman.
    "I made him an arch-villain," says Fraser. "He wasn't. But he was a hard man." The trick, he says, is to be true to the spirit of the person. Which is why, in Flashman and the Great Game, he includes an editorial footnote questioning Flashman's claim that he slept with the otherwise "respectable" Rani of Jhansi, the Indian Joan of Arc.
    He admits to the odd clanger, such as Flashman referring to the "worst mess" he's been in since the battle of Chilianwalla in the Sikh wars. It took an American reader to point out that on the day of the battle - January 13, 1849 - Flashman was evading ssllave-owners on the Mississippi river. "It was very careless of me," admits Fraser, "but I can blame that on Flashman. Poor old fool meant Isandlwana, but his memory was fading."
    So why, given his obvious love of historical research, has he written only one work of conventional history, a book about the Border Reivers called Steel Bonnets? He says, "Writing straight history isn't as much fun…I tend to see the funny side of things."
    His novels can indeed be extremely funny; in Flashman at the Charge (1973), when our hero catches Lord Cardigan in his wife Elspeth's bedroom: "Halfway between the foot of the door and the bed stood the 7th Earl of Cardigan. His elegant Cherrypicker pants were about his knees, and the front tail of his shirt was clutched up before him in both hands. He was in the act of advancing towards my wife, and from the expression on his face - which was that of a starving, apoplectic glutton faced with a crackling roast - and from other visible signs, his intention was not simply to compare birthmarks."
    Fraser tends not to read today's historians, preferring the narrative élan of 19th-century practitioners such as Alexander Kinglake and Sir John Kaye. His favorite novelists are Walter Scott ("I've just finished The Betrothed") and Rafael Sabatini (whose Captain Blood, published in 1922, "made me realize that history was one helluva story"). What about his contemporaries? "I don't read modern novelists, apart from my daughter [Caro Fraser]." Not even Patrick O'Brian? "I'm a Hornblower man, so I don't know whether I'd like O'Brian or not."
    Fraser dedicates most of his books to his wife Kath, who encouraged him not to give up when the original Flashman was rejected by "at least a dozen publishers". I think back to the late 1990s when, despairing of my ability to make a living as a historian, I had a go at writing a historical novel with Flashman's nephew as the central character. My agent read the first two chapters and told me not to give up the day job.
    I relate the above to Fraser, who is quick to point out that Flashman was an only child and had no nephews. What about a son? "Yes, but he became a bishop." Damn, just as well the book was never published. But if it had been, would Fraser have minded? His reply is non-committal. "Lots of people have said they'd like to do this, they'd like to do that with Flashman. My agent has just warned them off."
    Sounds ominous. So what does he think about the breach of copyright action that Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, are bringing against the British publishers of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code? "They've got to lose that case," he says. "If they win it's going to make writing historical fiction very difficult. Anyway, as I understand it, there's no copyright in ideas."
    He also thinks it's "very difficult not to plagiarize" and has had some close shaves himself. Like the time he discovered that a P C Wren book called Worth Wile, published in 1937, had a scene in which the hero is "held in a dungeon by a nasty Russian with a split eye". Fraser wrote just such a scene in Flashman and the Great Game (1975) before he was even aware of the Wren book. He got the idea for the Russian Ignatieff's split eye from a boy at his school with an eye that was half blue, half brown. "Would Wren, had he still been alive, have believed that this was just coincidence?" he wonders. "But it was."
    'Flashman on the March' by George MacDonald Fraser is published by HarperCollins

Book vs. Film

This section explains what is different in the book.

    The main difference is the book starts out being narrated by Flashman while he’s in his 80s looking back. He is proud to admit he lied, cheated and stole his way through life. He also had an exiled Scottish wife, Elspeth, whom he learned was cheating on him when he was off in the Afghan war. Since she had all the money there was nothing he could do but sleep around himself and pretend they were still a couple. Much is told about his friend Speedicut also from Tom Brown’s Schooldays, but in the movie he is barely even a background character. In the club Flash gambles a bit, loses and says he’s gambled all over the world and it was the worst there before he goes upstairs with the tarts. He also explains how it was against the law to search for gaming halls, so cops had to have proof or else they could get sued and that’s why they were able to hide the games. In the movie they hide everything, but in the book he says they were caught sleeping. They hide in a room and trick young guy into thinking they’ll cover for him in the upstairs unused part of the building. Instead they lead the police to him which allows them to escape. They climb out the back and watch the police raid the place with a crowd. But the youth they tricked recognizes them and points them out to the police and they take off. The police give chase and Flashman’s leg gives out from when he broke in the war and Speed stays back and fights the cops so Flash can get away. He hides in the carriage and here Lola is introduced as Miss Elizabeth Rosanna James. The policeman introduces himself as Cpl Webster. Flash insults Otto as they drive away and that’s when he dooms himself. When they get back to her place he is even more graphic in her biting, scratching lovemaking. It isn’t until later in the night after their second time that she uses the hairbrush. She is also married and was living in India where her husband is stationed and finds London so boring.
    Flashman just leaves Lola, there is no scene with her onstage where the curtain falls, there is no duel and she is not an actress. She is a singer. A month later he meets Otto again, but there is no boxing match that night. They all eat dinner together and Otto dominates the conversation and looks down on people so Flashman hates him. Otto is humorless, serious, arrogant and they laugh at him for not knowing Flashman’s Afghanistan story. Flashman’s only real skills are he is able to ride any horse and learn any language easily. Otto insults Flash’s linguistics and challenges him to a steeplechase, which he can’t back down from. They race on horseback to a nearby church and Otto cuts him off by doing a suicidal leap over a hedge at the last second to win and Flash cowardly backs down. A week later is the boxing match. Jack Gully has been retired for 30 years and Otto insults him. So Flashman instigates him into fighting and Otto says he can’t because Jack is too old. Flashman tells him to use a saber then. Jack doesn’t want to fight and hasn’t since he retired 30 years ago, but is bribed by a man who’ll sell him a champion horse. Horses are Jack’s weakness. Percival is upset they insulted his guest Otto. In the first round Jack just blocks some punches. In the second round Jack bloodies Otto’s nose by accident and Otto tackles him. Jack says that’s enough then Otto insults him by saying Jack called it off, he would keep going. Otto sucker punches Jack and Jack knocks him down again and again leaving him battered and bloody, but Otto refuses to relent. Jack is ashamed. Flash is thrilled plus it was a rare treat to be able to say you saw Jack fight in person.
    Months later Flash is bored and no longer considered the hero, his time of fame has passed. He runs into Lola again and doesn’t recognize her as she is using her real name and pretending to be a Spanish dancer. He wants to expose her as a fraud so he goes to a lord that she turned down. He has to sneak in to meet him and the lord is not impressed with Flash and will deny ever seeing him. The lord goes to a performance of The Barber of Seville opera and Flashman tags along, but isn’t to be seen with the lord. She dances between the acts and the crowd loves her. After the third act the lord starts to boo her and denounce her as an imposter and the crowd goes nuts. She is run out of London in disgrace.

   He’s knocked out and wakes up in jail facing many charges, but no charges are given to him at first. If he goes to the ambassador it will be a public scandal so he’s blackmailed into going with Rudi as a pawn. It is a three day train ride to Berlin. Rudi is younger than Flashman. After the train it’s three more days by coach in the snow.
   Otto shoots rats for fun in the castle. He explains the Schlesiwg-Holstein states problem to him – Denmark and Germany argue over control of those states. Carl is bald which Flashman isn’t happy about shaving his head. He protests he is already married. They’ll make the switch while Carl is hunting and at the end let Flash go with 10,000 pounds reward. There is a debate whether he will actually paid and Flash wants 15,000 but he doesn’t get it. He gets drunk, goes to bed and weeps. The first day they shave his head. Otto says de Gautet can cut his face as revenge for Gully inside a gym, not outside like the film. After the second cut Flash stabs him and is attacked. He has to stay in bed for days to heal and makes no escape attempts. He spends a month in study learning German, Danish and all aspects of Carl’s life and mannerisms. So much so they are still a part of his life 50 years later. He started to think he really was Carl and Otto felt it. Otto traveled to Berlin because he was in parliament and had a wife there. Flash got bored with no women ever around. Otto worried the scars were too fresh and he’s to stay at night in Strackenz first which three days journey. Flash prepares himself by getting drunk.
   On the trip they stop referring to him as highness, they stop at a hut and Flash carries his pistols for protection even though he’s not supposed to. Rudi is jealous and wishes he could be Carl, Flash would love to trade with him. The real Carl is staying with Count von Tarlenheim and Flash is brought in and has to strip naked and wait. Rudi salutes the size of his manhood and leaves. Detchard finally arrives and Carl’s Doctor, Ostred arrives and is completely fooled by Flashman at first. He says the only giveaway are the scars are too fresh and they have to touch them up. He feels good that he was able to fool the doctor and gets comfortable really fast with all the finer things left for Carl and thinks about stealing some items for later. He’s also really horny, having not been with a woman for months. He sends for a chambermaid to turn down the bed and one arrives and they have a raucous sexual encounter.
   He gets drunk on the affection of being a prince and how he’s treated like a god. The next day he leaves and all along his coach route people come out to wave to him. More and more people do so when they finally arrive in Strackenz. The constable gets in with him to give him the tour and the keys to the city. He raises his sword as the defender of the city and the crowd roars it’s approval. He then rides in to the town hall on horseback to more adulation and his presented a crest. Then he has to sign a decree to free all the prisoners which is tradition. He panics because he never practiced forging Carl’s signature. He refuses to sign making sure no dangerous criminals are released first and promises to sign in a day or two. Some are disappointed, some think he is wise. Then a crippled orphan presents him a peach. Not knowing what to do he picks him up on the table and invited the boy to share the peach with him. The boy laughs and cries over it and Flash says it’s the only time in his life he’s ever been ashamed, though he’s not sure why. He then unwillingly has to go to a school and hear the best children speak. He’s bored so he picks out the kid that reminds him most of himself and has him talk and it goes badly to his delight.
   In the palace he is amazed at the beauty of the duchess. After meeting they go to a banquet where Flash pigs out and drinks too much. He feels she hates him and would be killed if he was caught. Adolf Schwerin pulls him aside and tells him how young he duchess is to be careful with her.
   After the wedding they are covered in the crown jewels and Flash dreams of stealing them. They exit the church and ride in a coach where the masses surround them wanting to cheer and touch them. Then a man who is possibly Karl Marx climbs above the crowd to denounce them before he can be arrested. Flash is interested in the brawl, but can’t see it. Irma is furious and embarrassed about the whole situation. Flash doesn’t care. When his old friend Erik arrives he messes up by saying it is a springing surprise, not as funny as the line in the film. Rudi was prepared to shoot him as an assassin. Later Rudi inquires about the jewels like he wants to steal them. Where they go for their honeymoon is the royal hunting lodge. On the way Rudi flirts with a redhead in the carriage. Irma is mad about everything and hardly speaks to Flash. At the lodge Irma and her assistants go upstairs and Flash, Rudi and the men eat and drink up downstairs having a loud party.

Not in the book

Lola’s duel with the baroness
Carl with hair
de Gautet cuts Flashy’s face, in the film it’s Otto.
The oil bag he wears to bulk him up
All of Flashy’s escape attempts, the snuffbox, billiards.
Flashy with a monocle
The dance when Flashy meets Irma
Train dedication ceremony
Otto in the presentation line at the wedding
Irma’s frigid positions in bed the first time.
The boar hunt
The fight on the bridge after the hunt Flashy was to have papers saying he’s a German agent


The Flashman Papers series in order of publishing.

 # Title Year Setting
 1 Flashman  1969 1839-42: Anglo-Afghan War
 2 Royal Flash 1970 1842-3, 47-8: Revolutions of 1848
 3 Flash for Freedom! 1971 1848-9: Underground Railroad
 4 Flashman at the Charge 1973 1854-5: Crimean War
 5 Flashman in the Great Game 1975 1856-8: Indian Mutiny
 6 Flashman's Lady 1977 1842-5
 7 Flashman and the Redskins 1982 1849-50 / 1875-76
 8 Flashman and the Dragon 1986 1860: Taiping Rebellion
 9 Flashman and the Mountain of Light 1991 1845-6: First Sikh War
10 Flashman and the Angel of the Lord 1996 1858-9: Harper's Ferry Raid
11 Flashman and the Tiger 1999 1877-94
12 Flashman on the March 2006 1868: Invasion of Abyssinia

Flashman has a cameo in Fraser's novel Mr. American (1970)

Classic Lines

"It's as crooked as a Russian regiment."
"Two things happen when I'm alone with a woman - she either screams or sleeps with me, sometimes both."
"It's not the weapon, but the man behind it that counts."
"She is a passionate female, she'll be tearing my trousers off in a moment."
"Never drink while a man is down, he might get up."


5/28/78 - Arthur Brough
5/2/99 - Oliver Reed of a heart attack while filming Gladiator 
12/28/03 - Alan Bates of cancer
10/4/06 - Tom Bell
1/3/08 - George MacDonald Fraser

By Margalit Fox 1/3/08
    George MacDonald Fraser, a British writer whose popular novels about the arch-rogue Harry Flashman followed their hero as he galloped, swashbuckled, drank and womanized his way through many of the signal events of the 19th century, died Wednesday on the Isle of Man. He was 82 and had made his home there in recent years. The cause was cancer, said Vivienne Schuster, his British literary agent.
    The son of Scottish parents, George MacDonald Fraser was born on April 2, 1925, in Carlisle, England, near the Scottish border. His boyhood reading, like that of nearly every British boy of his generation, included "Tom Brown's School Days." In World War II, Fraser served in India and Burma with the Border Regiment. His memoir of the war in Burma, "Quartered Safe Out Here" (Harvill), was published in 1993. After leaving the military, Fraser embarked on a journalism career, working for newspapers in England, Canada and Scotland. He eventually became the assistant editor of The Glasgow Herald and, in the 1960s, was briefly its editor.
    Tiring of newspaper work, Fraser decided, as he later said in interviews, to "write my way out" with an original Victorian novel. In a flash, he remembered Flashman, and the first book tumbled out in the evenings after work. "In all, it took 90 hours, no advance plotting, no revisions, just tea and toast and cigarettes at the kitchen table," he said in an interview quoted in the reference work "Authors and Artists for Young Adults." For his work, Fraser received many honors, among them the Order of the British Empire in 1999.

Explanatory Note

   The second packet of the Flashman Papers - that great collection of manuscript discovered in a saleroom in Leicestershire in 1965 - continues the career of the author, Harry Flashman, from the point where the first installment ended in the autumn of 1842. The first packet described his expulsion from Rugby School in 1839 (as previously referred to in Thomas Hughes’ Tom Brown’s Schooldays) and followed his subsequent military career in England, India and Afghanistan; the second packet covers two separate periods of several months in 1842-3 and 1847-8. There is an intriguing four-year gap which the author seems to indicate he has covered elsewhere in his memoirs.
   The present installment is of historical importance insofar as it describes Flashman’s encounters with several persons of international celebrity - including one most eminent statesman whose character and actions may now be subjected to some reappraisal by historians. It also establishes a point of some literary interest, for there can be no doubt that a link exists between Flashman’s German adventure and one of the best-selling novels of the period. As with the first packet (entrusted to me by Mr. Paget Morrison, the owner of the Flashman Papers) I have confined myself to correcting the author’s occasional lapses in spelling. Where Flashman touches on known history he is remarkably accurate, especially when one considers that he was writing in his eighties; wherever he appears to make a minor slip I have left it uncorrected in the text (as, for example, where he describes the pugilist Nick Ward as “the Champion” in 1842, when in fact Ward had lost the title the previous year), but I have added such notes and comments as seemed appropriated.
   Like most memorialists, Flashman is vague about exact dates; where these can be established I have entered them in the notes.

Foreign Titles

France - Le Froussard Heroique
Germany - Royal Flah


It has never been released in the US on any format.
VHS - 1982 PAL - OP



Opening shot of Flashman

Flashman speaking with a massive Union Jack behind him
Flashman speaking - side view
Opening Title

Flashman 'battling' the Arabs

Flashman at christening

Halfway stage for Flashmans' transformation into Carl Magnus

The point of no return for Flashman
Lola runs the gauntlet

UK Paperback Movie Tie-in Front

UK Paperback Movie Tie-in Back

Lobby Card #4 - Flashman confronted by Rudi at gunpoint

1982 PAL VHS Cover

Original Movie Poster Magazine Ad

Films and Filming Cover May 1975

The Prisoner of Zenda

Whether Flashman's real-life experiences in Germany provided Anthony Hope with the basis of his famous romance, The Prisoner of Zenda, is a matter which readers must decide for themselves. Flashman is quite definite in the text in two places - especially where he refers to "Hawkins", which was Hope's real name. There is certainly some similarity in events, and names like Lauengram, Kraftstein, Detchard, de Gautet, Bersonin, and Tarlenheim are common to both stories, Flashman's "Major Sapten" is literary twin brother to Hope's "Colonel Sapt", and no amateur of romantic fiction will fail to identify Rudi von Starnberg with the Count of Hentzau


Here is an exclusive quote from Malcolm on the death of Alan Bates:
"I am devastated. Alan was the nicest man I have ever worked with and I really loved him."

"It was probably as good a film as could have been made from his story." - Richard Lester

Q: How was it? Had you had previous fencing training?

MM: No. Good God, no. But you know when they say to an actor, "Can you ride?" You always say, yes, of course. "Can you fence?" Absolutely. Whatever they say, you can do it and then, hey, how difficult can it be? And so you learn it. It was a lot of fun doing that. I got to work with Alan Bates. Oliver Reed in one of his more sober periods, which was fun. He was a very good actor actually, Oliver Reed. A few really good people in it. And I enjoyed it. I enjoyed working with the director (Richard Lester). Of course, he used to bemoan the fact that he'd only be remembered as the man who directed The Beatles. (Laughs.) Which I always thought was kind of a funny comment. But it's true, probably. - Reel.com 9/99

Summary - Official

    An amusing, fast moving swashbuckler that follows the further adventures of devious Victorian coward Harry Flashman (the bully from Tom Brown's Schooldays) who triumphs as a captain in the 11th Hussars, enjoys more tender success with a German duchess and courtesan Lola Montez and then finds himself involved in a 'Prisoner of Zenda' type escape in Bavaria where he has to impersonate a Crown Prince.
    Full of slapstick humor, bawdy dialogue and dashing swordplay and adapted from the best-selling novels of Goerge MacDonald Fraiser; Malcolm McDowell is Flashman; Alan Bates, Oliver Reed, Florinda Bolkan and Britt Ekland head the supporting cast.

My Summary

    Captain Harry Flashman speaks before a massive Union Jack flag to an academy graduation at his alma mater, Rugby School, as Pomp and Circumstance plays. He says to them to be true, clean and pure and the last thing he has to tell them is to play up and play the game, honor your queen and country, mind what your masters tell you, listen to your heart, keeps your minds and bodies clean. Then you can be a proper English gentlemen. He is a simple soldier (the crowd disagrees) and if you follow these rules you can say you tried to do your duty with a clear conscience and your master will find it's good enough for him. Everyone stands and applauds. Then the headmaster speaks saying he never heard such a great address. Remember how Harry started before he was a famous captain.
    Then it switches to a flashback of Harry in Afghanistan when he fought to the last against the heathen hordes in the First Afghan War. In reality he was hiding and came out and tried to surrender. He pulls down the British flag to raise the white flag of surrender and when the invaders come in he tries to give the British flag to invaders not wanting or caring about it. Then an explosion above knocks down a wall on top of the invaders. He is also knocked out and when reinforcements arrive they find he's the last one alive and clutching the flag and think he's a hero. In the hospital they give him a medal. Back to present the headmaster says we can no longer keep him from his duties.
    Then Flashman goes to the Minor Club in St. James where the entertainment gambling and ladies peddling on bikes in their underwear on stage. Harry says the card game is as crooked as a Russian regiment. He picks up a dark haired woman and goes upstairs with her. He says they'll play cards and every time he loses a trick he'll take off a piece of clothing. She asks what about her. He says silly girl, she'll learn.
    Outside the police put a man on a lift and raise him up to the window to see what he can see. Flash loses, is down to his pants and asks if the tarts have been marking the deck. He says they aren't drunk enough and goes out on the landing and tosses the empty bottle down to the waiter.
    The police raid the place blowing whistles. Everyone starts to scramble and turn the place into something else. Flash grabs his clothes, signs are turned to paintings, clothes are thrown to the women, gambling tables are turns over, covers are lowered from the ceiling to cover the gaming tables. By the time the police get inside nothing is illegal. Flashman climbs out of the window as the police head upstairs. The man on the lift still can't see anything and now they try to lower him.
    Flashman and his friend Speedicut jump down onto a truck, down on the street and he runs a block into a coach. Lola Montez arrives and asks what he's doing there. He says he was in a club that was raided. Her companion Otto Von Bismarck wants him out. She tells him he can stay. Flashman wants her to sit with him. The constable arrives and asks Otto if he's seen a man running by. He says this is your man and points to Harry. Flashman says he needs a rubdown and puts Lola's hand on his leg. The constable then recognizes Flashman and doesn't want to bother him since he's a hero. Flashman says Otto is playing him for a fool. Otto wants him arrested. The constable says Flashman is a British officer, Otto is not, so he doesn't care what he wants. Otto is shamed and will not forget him. Flashman says he won't trouble himself to remember him. He leaves and he tells Lola that two things happen when he's alone with a woman she either screams or sleeps with him, sometimes both.
    Flashman and Lola go somewhere to dance and start undressing each other. He asks why didn't she turn him in. She says Otto is full of ice, no life. He says Lola is a dago name, she is happy with that and says she wouldn't get rid of him if he was a murderer. Otto is going to be a great man and told her so. She wants to be a queen - of the theater and live forever. He takes off his pants and says he's a better man than Otto. She says to prove it and wants to paddle him with a hairbrush. He retreats and gets caught in a player piano.
    Later Flashman and Lola are at a party where men are boxing. Lola wants blood and wants them to hit each other harder. A friend can't believe Flash's luck with the ladies. He says his backside is like a pincushion from her brush. Harry tells Lola to calm down, it isn't the bedroom. Then Otto arrives and they welcome him. A man introduces John Gully the boxing champ to him. He asks Otto about dueling in Germany. They get scars for the sake of it and it is a true sport of skill. Flashman says he doesn't think Otto could box, he's not up to it. Otto asks if that is a challenge. He says no, he is a man of the sword like him and Otto needs a proper teacher and he should talk to Jack over there. Otto says he's too old. Flashman says he's insulting him and Jack could take him. Jack says he'll stand there with his hands down right in front of him. They want Flashman to stop. Otto is surprised and asks if he will let him hit him. Jack says you can try mein herr. Otto puts on the gloves and punches at Jacks face, but he moves aside time after time then takes a wild swing and goes down. Otto gets up and Flashman says see the skill. He admits it and wants Jack to hit him. He says he will, but will go easy on him. Flashman says come on squarehead. Jack says you can go home and say you fought the champ. He punches him a few times and then says that'll do. Then Otto gives him a sucker punch as he walks away. Jack says you shouldn't hit a man when he's not looking, but it's best to stop. Otto says you can't handle it. Jack says he never surrenders to any man and then fights back and takes him down hard blooding him. Otto says it was good instruction and if Flashman comes to Germany he'll teach him with the sword.
    Lola and Flashman are in bed and she wants to paddle him. He says not again, it's like making love under barb wire. She hits him and he says he's tired. She says she's the master of the house, no one tires of her and thought he was a man. He never said that, gets up and goes to leave. She throws a bedpan at him and he is glad it was empty. He goes out the door and is on stage in the middle of a play in his underwear. The crowd laughs and he is trapped. He tries to go back, but she hurls a shoe at him. It misses and hits the curtain man. He drops the curtain, which knocks out the Baroness Pechman, a fat opera singer. Flashman cuts her out and says Lola did it. She says she'll get that Spanish trollop. Lola is proud of it. 
    Then Lola and the Baroness have a fencing duel in a field and Lola cuts her dress straps off then carves an L on her breast. Her lawyer is there and says it is attempted murder, so she'll have to leave the country.

Four Years Later

    Lola's lawyer comes to a bath to see Flashman and asks if he's heard from her. He says no, thank god. He says Lola sent for him and wants him to come to Bavaria. What the deuce is she doing there he asks. He says she's the uncrowned ruler, the mistress of the king. After she left England, she became a performer. In a flashback we see Lola doing the Tarantata Spider Dance, lifting her pants. The king was taken by her and after says I don't believe they are real. She rips her top open to show her breasts. He says no, the spiders. The lawyer tells Flashman he will pay him 500 pounds to go see her, she requires his special services. He says I'll be damned, little Lola…Munich.
    He puts on his dress uniform and arrives in Bavaria. Outside a palace in the snow there is a firing demonstration at a fake deer. He takes the gun and goes to shoot it, but a man behind him shoots it for him. He is Rudi Von Sternberg who says it's a Bavarian gun. Flashman says it's not the weapon, but the man behind it that princes. He fires and shoots off the deers' antler. Rudi takes him to Lola. Flashman says Rudi knows her well for a messenger boy trying to insult him. He says he has other duties when he fells like it. Flashman sees the huge place and says not a bad little cottage.
    Inside the adults are playing musical chairs. Lola says Flashman is more handsome than ever. He says she is still the most beautiful girl in the world and wants to know what's this delicate service she wants him to perform. She says you'll see and introduces him to a woman and then says she's an overblown bag of blubber. He pulls her away and says let's go to bed, you and me, right in front of a servant. She says he's tired. He says he's good when he's tired. She says very well, over here. They go around the corner and he takes off his coat, says he's at his very best when he's tired and is pushed on the bed. He moans for Lola and she says she'll be right back. Then the girl from before come sin and jumps on him. He says you're not Lola, fat cow. He throws her off and then she jumps on him and tosses wine on him. He says very well, now that you are here. They start to get undressed and then the guards come in and say he's under arrest. He says that's not a crime. He calls for the princess or the consulate. 
    They aren't interested and say it's a crime, immoral and tie him down to a large kitchen table. They say they are other forms of punishment than jail and go to cut off his penis. Then Rudi comes crashing through the window to rescue him. He frees himself and a sword fight ensues with the men. Kraftstein has a metal hand he uses. Flashman has a sword fight while standing on the tables with de Gautet. He cuts a sausage and loses his sword, he then tackles the man and hangs him on a hook. Rudi fights with a man who smashes plates when he misses him. Flashman throws flower on one man. Another throws plates at him. Flashman swings across the room on a chandelier. Rudi grabs bread and they leave. Flashman asks why he didn't come through the door. He says he likes to make an entrance. He gives him the bread and says it's a long way.
    They ride on horseback, then in a boat across a lake to a castle. Flashman asks what it is. Schönhausen, friends of his. Ever read Frankenstein? Splendid stuff. He'll like it, better than seedy hotels. Inside the men who arrested him are there. Rudi says Kraftstein and de Gautet are known are the Brothers Grimm, the whole rescue was a bit of a joke for his benefit. You kidnapped me Flashman asks? Then a crossbow is fired into a rat. It is Otto. He tells him to sit down, you don't seem pleased to see him. I know you shouldn't, there is still a score to settle, I'm still missing a tooth. But that is not why I brought you there, I need you. In between is whoring and drinking, have you gave any attention to politics. Flashman says he's a Tory. Otto says he will unite the loose German states into a Reich. He wants one state ruled by Duchess Irma who is marrying Crown Prince Carl Magnus. It is important that the wedding takes place for his plans. Flashman drinks wine like Alex in A Clockwork Orange. He says good luck, best wishes. Otto says Carl has been foolish and got a social disease. Flashman says he's got the clap, laughs, well boys will boys. Few people know this and it will take months to cure him and the wedding is in two weeks. Flashman says it can't, not if he has cupid's measles. Otto says it can and shows him a drawing of Carl, he's a dead ringer for Flashman. He says no, I won't do it - you want me to take his place.
    They cut his hair and he says you've ruined me. Then they put a bag of oil around his shoulders to bulk him up and he says never to take his shirt off. He's perfect, except for two dueling scars on his face that Magnus got while a student. They have to be perfect. Otto takes him outside and has dueling swords and he'll cut him proper. Flashman says they are animals. They draw the lines on his face and give Flashman a helmet, but he refuses to wear it. Otto says I'm not going to kill you. He says very well animal and pinch to you. They start dueling in a standing position and Otto says much faster. They start again and Otto says that was very good, now we do it for real. He then slices Flashman on the face and he says blood, it's not fair, my skull is fractured. He says to fight again or he'll use a rusty sword. Flashman attacks and Otto asks what kind of man is he. An Englishman. Then fight. They hold his feet down and he breaks free. Otto cuts him again and tells Rudi to keep the wounds open so they scar properly. Flash then cuts Otto on the arm. Otto says good, he's acting like royalty alright.
    Later Flashman is dressed to the nines and they read from a book all of Carl's traits and Flashman walks around imitating them. He's not to scratch his buttocks though. He's supposed to open a snuffbox with one hand and take a pinch. He throws it in the guard's face and jumps out the window to ride a horse away, but it's a fake horse and it falls over.
    He is supposed to be a master billiards player and he rips the table. He likes to dance with the prettiest women he can find. He dances with iron hand, tosses him, tries to escape and the other man throws an iron plate at his head that sticks in the door.
    There is a wire coming in from Berlin. It makes static because outside Flashman is using tongs to ride down the wire to escape. Rudi figures out what he's up to and goes after him. He slides along at a great height screaming then crashes at the end into a pole and falls through a roof. The men run out and ask if he's enjoying himself.
    Back inside he can now open the snuffbox and make the trick billiard shots. He's looking the part, he'll do. Otto says his life depends on his role. They will switch him out with Carl tomorrow.
    The next day he rides in a carriage procession and people line the streets to cheer him. He happily waves at them and is taken to a large overhang and gets out of the carriage. He's supposed to wait for a man to help him and steps on his hand crunching it. Inside an honor guard pulls their swords out as he arrives every few feet. He climbs many steps and stops to check his hair in one sword then moves faster. At the top he says that's it, grovel you comrades. He kisses Irma's hand and she welcomes his highness. He sits next to her and takes his monocle off. She trusts his journey wasn't too tedious. He says no, I counted the hours the whole way. Was the whether cold on your journey? He says it was warm at times. Not as warm as it his here. She says it is hot, I'll open the windows. He says no, he means the warmth her people gave. He says to Rudi she is a passionate female, she'll be tearing his trousers off in a moment. Rudi says to compliment her. He says he's never seen such beauty, you are so pale like a fine mist over a cemetery. He jumps up and says shall we dance. The band doesn't know what to do and quickly gets it together. They dance to the approval of the crowd.
    After he says it was like dancing with a dead nun, heaven help the real Carl Magnus. A train arrives and they invite Carl to inaugurate their first public locomotive, it will travel in speeds in excess of 10 miles every hour. Flashman walks up and puts his hand out. He swings the bottle to him. Flashman declares the train is now open. A man walks in front of him and the bottle slams into his head. They say to find another bottle. He steps down and Otto says he's in trouble. Flashman says they'll find another bottle. Otto says Carl's childhood friend Erik Hansen is arriving. Flashman says he'll find out he's a fake and flips out yelling. Otto says he will only see him for a second at the reception. He's just to greet him and say "Erik where did you spring from?" They are ready for him on the platform again. He climbs back up and says the Erik line by mistake, then tosses the bottle in to the train. Now he wants a Brandy.
    Then it's the wedding day. They put the rings on and say Amen to each other and the bells ring out as bell ringers inside ring them. Then he's to greet the Ambassador from Naples, then another, then Cassius Clay from the US who come up and bow. Then it's prince Otto Von Bismarck's turn. He greets Irma and Flashman plays with him saying haven't you been presented to me before. He says no. Then Erik arrives. Flash screws up and says, "Spring where did you Erik from?" He cheerfully greets him, then Erik gets a weird look. Rudi goes for his gun, but Erik leaves.
    After in an antechamber Flashman says he knows he's a fake. Rudi says no, he doesn't know, but they have to watch him. Erik is part of a secret organization who wants to take him down. Flashman is incredulous he didn't tell him this before. He's not to worry. A man arrives and says he's there for the crown jewels, they have to place them in safe keeping again in the clock tower. He takes the crown from him and he forgets about the scepter. Rudi has to remind him to give it up. Then he says they mustn't keep the duchess waiting, he's sure she's as eager to be on honeymoon as he is. Outside they get in a carriage and ride off as Erik and his conspirators watch.
    In bed Flashman calls to Irma saying they'll be no more singing downstairs, we'll have a chorus upstairs instead. She's like a zombie so he says he's not going to hurt her. Her back goes down and her knees go up. He picks her up and she goes back all stiff. He pries her apart, she creaks and he gets on top of her. After he falls asleep and she wants to do it once more. He says not again. Later she says it is so cold, they should stay inside all day, they've only been together a week and he's bored with her already. She doesn't want him to go boar hunting with the guys. She rubs his chest and punctures his oil bag. He says it's indigestion. Outside she asks will you think of me while you are slaughtering boars. He says every minute. He rides off and Rudi watches, smoking. She waves to him.
    A boar is flushed out, Flashman gets off his horse, grabs a rifle and they say let the hunt begin - release the hounds. Flashman doesn't want that, no challenge. The hounds chase the boar across the area. They go down a path with a sign that reads, "Danger bridge under construction." de Gautet says it's the best view in the area, it's called the Giants' Cauldron. He walks out and it's a large wooden foot-bridge over a massive gorge. He drops his rifle and the man throws a spear at his head and it sticks in a pole. Flashman rushes him, he grabs another and says they can talk about this. They fight and Flashman swings over the edge, gets back around and says "oh, my heart" to trick him, then punches him in the face. De Gautet goes over the side, holds onto a rope and goes to cut him off. He says you backstabber. He says it's all Otto's idea, Carl was never sick, he just wanted him killed. When his body was found it would have papers on him exposing him as a German agent allowing him to invade the Duchesses territory. Flashman says he'll show him no mercy, like he showed the real prince. He assures him the prince is still alive in a dungeon to be killed later. Flashman cuts the rope and says auf wiedersehen, but he falls too. They hit a large waterfall and slide down. The man dies, but Flashman is OK. He says goodbye to goddamn Germany, you bastards, but Erik's man is waiting for him and he puts his finger on the barrel.
    Later they hang Flashman up. He tells them it was all Otto's plan to impersonate the prince and they kidnapped him, his wife, his real wife and his golden haired daughter Amelia. He'll never see her again. Erik doesn't believe him. He says either way he's a dead man if they don't tell him where the real prince is. He says in a dungeon in Nuremberg.
    The men go to the castle where the prince is and it's surrounded by a huge moat. There is no way to launch an attack. If they hear the guns they'll kill the prince. Erik says two men might make it though. He'll go in, it's his friend, but they need another man to distract the drawbridge. They make Flashman volunteer. He doesn't want to saying he's a bad swimmer. They make him go anyway saying he has nothing to lose but his life. Don't worry they'll rescue his wife and daughter, she's always in his thoughts.
    In the boat Flashman asks Erik how he knew he was a fake. He says the scars were reversed. Flashman responds, "Miserable, pompous ass Otto, god help Germany when he's in charge." Erik suits up and gets into the water. Flashman says it's freezing and screams out when he gets in. They swim inside and Rudi is waiting and kills Erik. He tells Flashman to get out and he tells him not to shoot him. Rudi fires at him and Flash goes underwater to try to escape. He winds up in the dungeon and Rudi tells his men to get him. He's in the old torture chamber and they hear him so he hides inside the Iron Maiden. They lean on it and he screams in pain, but they don't hear him. They see the water pouring out from the bottom, but keep going. Flashman prays to go to get him out of this.
    He walks into Carl's cell and Carl asks who are you for god's sake, you have my face. Flashman says he never looked like that. Then Rudi arrives saying Flashman's an Englishman, taking his place. Carl says you are trying to drive me mad, what do you want? Rudi takes Flashman down and says when they got tired of you they chained him to one of these. It's a pole that leads to a hole, that drops a long way into the lake. He tells the prince one of his friends is already down there, Hansen. Rudi then leads him out at gunpoint. Carl wants Flashman to speak and he says goodnight your highness.
    They are going to get rid of him. Flashman asks how. Rudi say not to worry, he's not going to kill him. He has another plan. What if the real prince went down the pipe into the lake. Then they both can go back to the palace. Flashman would be back on the throne with him at his side, his faithful servant. Flashman asks if he's mad. Rudi says only they know he's not the real Magnus, he'll be worth a fortune. Flashman says he's mad, he'd rather be poor. Rudi says you don't trust me, you shouldn't, but where's your sense of acting? Let's drink to the partnership. Then Flashman slams a bottle of his head. Never drink while a man is down, he might get up he says, but drinks anyway.
He leaves and kicks the wheel for the drawbridge, but it hits hard and cracks in half. Erik's men launch their attack, but fall into the moat. Grimm comes out and fires back. Flashman says to the front and Rudi arrives saying it's bad form not to say goodbye. He says goodbye and then they have a swordfight. Flashman is knocked into a chair, then he's cut on the arm. Flashman keeps fighting from the chair and Rudi cuts the side and between his legs. Iron hand goes to shoot him, but Rudi says not to. Flashman tips the chair over and gets away. The keep fighting and Flashman gets too close to the fire and has to put himself out. Rudi says to stand and fight, Flashman says why should he, so he can show off his swordsmanship. He grabs something and they keep going out of the room. Flashman uses a large iron candle holder. Then he goes upstairs, falls down and fights on a table, but the table breaks. He grabs a large chandelier and climbs up on it. Rudi tells him to come down and fight like a man. He says don't be ridiculous and throws candles at him. Rudi goes upstairs and cuts the rope. Flash tumbles upside-down and the whole thing falls on him. Rudi gives him a sword and tells him to keep fighting. He launches an attack and Rudi cuts him across the chest, but he hits the oil bag allowing him to escape. He throws a candle at Rudi and starts a fire in front of him. He tells Flashman he can't run forever as he gets away.
    Outside they tell a man to make a bridge. He holds onto the drawbridge and men run across his back. Flashman goes to free Carl and Rudi arrives. They keep fighting and Flashman kicks him. He gets the cell open and Carl throws stuff at him. Flashman says no you stupid bastard, throw it at Rudi, he's on his side. So he throws a stool at him. Rudi gets a hold of the chain and tries to pull him down the hole. Flash tries to cut the rope and send them both down as he almost goes down the hole. The rebels arrive outside as Carl pulls on the chain to free himself. The rebels fight their way up the stairs and iron hand gets stabbed. Flashman is caught in the chain and tied to Carl, but Carl gets free. Rudi throws his sword and cuts the rope sending only Flashman down the train. He hits the water, goes under, but frees himself and its OK. Above the rebels say poor little golden haired Amelia. One asks if that's his name.
    Flashman makes it back to Irma first. He tells the guards there is a rebellion and to put it down because they are trying to kill him. He says some one is trying to impersonate him and to stop him. Irma is glad to see him and starts to kiss him. He says it's an armed rebellion against us. She asks who led it. He says some chaps. She says you are so thin and what happened to your hair. He says sunstroke. She starts kissing him and throws him on the bed. He says he has to go. She says my own prince. Outside he tells her he loves her. He says he really does, he thinks. He runs upstairs and tells the Lt. guarding the crown jewels there is a threat on the duchess's life and they must guard her. They are to guard the jewels. He asks if he is married, or if he has a lover, then he understands. He runs off and says he'll guard her with his life. He pushes the gargoyles and they are part of the clock, send him outside around one door to another and guards below see him. He grabs the jewels and puts them in a suitcase. A man tries to help him carry it, but he says no go back to bed.
    Otto has the Flight of the Valkyries playing as he moves against a sky, but it's not real. There are men behind him holding a painting. He tells Rudi the English thief will go to the one place he thinks they'll never look - Munich. Otto is going to redraw the map in German, it's out of date. He'll be busy for the next 30 years.
    Flashman goes to see Lola, but the people have revolted against her. She is leaving her castle as the crowd jeers at her. Flashman runs down to get close. She gets in a carriage and leaves. Flash runs up beside and yells it's me Harry Flashman. She asks what is he doing there. He says Otto it after him, he's in trouble, he has no money and he loves her you selfish bitch. She tells the driver to keep going and pushes him off. He drops one of the jewels in the carriage by accident and she tells the driver to stop. He runs up and asks did she change your mind.
    That night he says in spite of everything he knew she would never desert him. She says can he ever forgive her. He says oh that, she's had her share of trouble, ungrateful swine those kings. He wishes he could help her, but he's penniless.
    When he wakes up, she's gone and so are his jewels. He yells, "thieving bitch, I'm ruined." He opens the door and he's in the middle of nowhere. There is a note for him. He grabs it and then there's a gun to his head, it's Rudi. The note says "Dear Harry my need is greater than yours, I trust we never meet again, worthless Harry there will always be a place in my heart for you." Rudi says worthless bitch, if I were a marrying man she would be last woman on earth for me. He puts the gun in Harry's face and says time to die. He pulls the trigger, but it doesn't fire. He says it's a new game he invented, he'll call it Hungarian Roulette. Here you try. He hands Flashman the gun and says he'll kill him when he's ready, not when Otto says so. They pull the trigger back and forth until the gun goes off. Flashman yells, "Hells bells Rudi! Someone could've been killed!" Rudi explains that is the point of the game. "But I could've been killed!" he says. The End.

My Review

    This is the greatest movie few people have ever seen, but they all want to. It's a damn shame that one of Malcolm's greatest roles was never seen at first. Then it was lost to time, so he never got the recognition he deserved. It doesn't help that it was never released on home video on any format ever in the US. It was released on VHS in the UK in 1982 and that was it. I first saw it in 1998 on a VHS transfer that wasn't the best. In 2006 I watched a letterboxed DVD and it was a thing of beauty to finally see it as it was meant to be seen.
This is a great movie all around. Great acting, writing, scenery and it's very funny. It looks like everything was filmed on location with no homemade sets except for maybe the river gorge bridge. It's a well done period piece and the locations and costumes are perfect. It's swashbuckling fun like and old Zorro film.
    The intro is classic. As the dean says how legendary Flash is they show the real story of him hiding, cowering and reinforcements mistakenly thinking he fought to the last man. This one act of cowardice makes him a legend and he spends the rest of the time living it up.
It's the first and last time MM played a dual role, but there isn't that much of it as Flashman and Carl don't spend much time on screen together. They do the classic split screen trick a couple of times and the fake MM from behind on others, but it works.
    The whole Minor Club scene is also brilliant when the police raid it. They have a plan to cover every single thing up instantly. Everything can be turned around, turned over or covered up in seconds. Since the cops didn't actually see anything, they couldn't prove it was there in the first place. At one point Flashman says, "well, well" and it sounds a lot like "welly, welly" from Alex, maybe it was a little inside joke from Malcolm. In fact Flashman is like a wise ass version of Alex. Where Alex would kick your ass himself, Flash would find a way to have your ass kicked without dirtying or hurting himself in the process like when he pulls one over on Otto by appealing to his woman. Then he gets him again by goading him into fighting. He also gets back at Lola by sicking the opera singer on her.
    Of course it all comes back to bite him in the butt. In fact everything he tries to do comes out wrong. He tries to beat girls in strip poker and they wind up beating him. By making an enemy of Otto, he winds up getting cut, beaten and almost murdered. By walking out on Lola she attacks him, sets him up for Otto and in the end steals all his treasure. He seduces Lola and sleeps with her, then can't take her anymore because she wants to spank him so hard every time she wants sex. He gets off some great zingers about how frigid Irma is, then can't take it after the first time they have sex because she wants to keep doing it again and again. He does get the most beautiful women, but it never works out the way he wants it to.
    The whole movie is fun and exciting. Malcolm really plays it to the hilt and has great comic delivery. When he isn't being funny he is an action star - flying through the air, through windows, down wires, sword fighting on tables, hanging from chandeliers, on horseback, in the water, on fire - it's a tour de force role. The best thing is he really pulls it off. He's a natural up there and it should've led to more action oriented leading man roles. He could've been James Bond in the 70s, he would've been the perfect younger, hipper Agent 007.
The bridge scene is amazing. It looks like it's a mile up. There is a real bridge and it seems like they were up there, but it could've been mixed with a set, if it was it was well done.
    Oliver Reed is perfectly cast as the bastard German. He is intense and vicious the whole time. He doesn't smile, laugh or joke. There is even a great comedic scene where it looks like he's riding on a horse with Richard Wagner playing and a majestic background behind him that turns out to be a painting. It's such a surprise too, almost like something right out of the Three Stooges, it's unexpected, that's why it works.
    This was the first of four appearances Malcolm and Alan Bates has together. They made a great team and it's a shame no one picked up on this and gave them more action roles together. A year later they did The Collection that had a dueling scene with cheese knives that was a bit of a nod to this film.
    The women are beautiful and are total opposites. Lola is deadly and Irma is simple. She is frigid and boring until a sexual beast is unleashed. I guess the real Carl was in for a treat when he returned unless he confessed it wasn't him that she married in the first place. It could be a real mess.
    I just don't know why the film wasn't more popular, especially when the books are hugely popular. At the time there were already four books in the series released as well as a fifth the same year the movie came out. I can't imagine it's because it was the second book. It was made by 20th Century Fox, a massive company, so it wasn't a small film. The only guess I have is that it is too British. There wasn't enough American appeal for it to be a smash it. It's a shame. Malcolm resembles the artwork on all the early book covers except for being a little bit shorter, but who cares?
    Maybe the only way to have made the film better was to sex it up more, but that would've pushed it to an R rating. It wasn't like they would've lost an audience as the box office since there wasn't any to begin with. The cut scenes show more skin, so it looks like it was sexier at one point.
    It's such a fun movie that it's such a damn shame it didn't lead to a string of Flashman films, there certainly is enough written material to go from, but to this day there hasn't been a sequel and looks like there never will be. Even though you would think Malcolm is too old to take the role, the book continues over 30 years past the setting of this one, so he could do Flashman and the Tiger, otherwise he's too old for the other books. If they did make the other ones Malcolm could play the 80 year old Flashman who is writing his memoirs and then a younger actor could play him. I've never read any of the other books, but would be interested in doing so because now I can just picture Malcolm as Flashman and it would be more fun. It follows the book pretty well, but not exactly, trimming a lot out, especially his friend Speedicut and his wife, maybe this is one reason why it wasn't as popular, but how often is a film as good as the book?

Rating: 10/10


Now Capt. Harry Flashman Lives - On the Silver Screen.
The greatest swordsman of them all!
See Capt. Harry Flashman surrender his way to victory!

Together Before

1962 - Malcolm and Joss Ackland both did episodes of Z cars 
1969 - Oliver Reed and Alan Bates were in Women in Love

Together Again

1976 - Malcolm and Alan Bates were both in The Collection
1982 - Malcolm and Alan Bates were both in Britannia Hospital
1996 - Joss Ackland and Tom Bell both did episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
2000 - Malcolm and Alan Bates were both in St. Patrick: The Irish Legend
2008 - Malcolm and Bob Hoskins were both in Doomsday

Malcolm and Britt both did separate episodes of The Lexx (1997+2002)
Tom Bell and Warren Clarke (Dim in ACO) were in Dalziel and Pascoe: Recalled to Life in 1999

This page © 2001-08 Alex D. Thrawn for www.MalcolmMcDowell.net