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Guns at Batasi
Guns at Batasi
Actors: Richard Attenborough, Jack Hawkins, Flora Robson, John Leyton, Mia Farrow
Director: John Guillermin
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
NR     2006     1hr 43min

Two-time Oscar® winner Richard Attenborough (1982 Best Director and Best Picture, Ghandi) stars as a dedicated British soldier caught in the midst of a revolution in Africa in this compelling war drama. Co-starring Mia Far...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Richard Attenborough, Jack Hawkins, Flora Robson, John Leyton, Mia Farrow
Director: John Guillermin
Creators: Douglas Slocombe, Max Benedict, George H. Brown, C.M. Pennington-Richards, Leo Marks, Marshall Pugh, Robert Holles
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Classics
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 05/23/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/1964
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1964
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 43min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

An interesting film with a powerful performance by Richard A
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 06/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Take one terrific performance by Richard Attenborough, add the nature of the character he plays, throw in politics, the British Army, mutiny, the end of Empire...and you have a strangely affecting and engrossing film that you may remember for quite awhile.

Regimental Sergeant Major Lauderdale (Richard Attenborough) and a detachment of the British Army are based outside Batasi, a town in a newly independent East African nation which had been part of the colonial empire. Lauderdale is at once pompous, narrow-minded, serious and proud. He is a dedicated professional soldier who has reached the top rank for a non-commissioned officer. He presents himself immaculately; he believes in traditions and rules; he is ram-rod straight and can strip hide off a malefactor at the top of his voice. "Now understand this, Wilkes! I can stomach a good soldier whatever his faults. What I can't stomach are Bolshies, skivers, scrimshankers and bunkhouse barristers. I've broken more of them than you've had eggs for breakfast!" And he is shrewd at war. He is resourceful and courageous. He knows his business.

A revolt against the government starts and most of the country's army takes part to overthrow the old and bring in the new. The British officers and NCOs at the base near Batasi are held at gun point in their respective messes. While the local British representatives keep a practical eye peeled for which way the wind is blowing, RSM Lauderdale, alone with only five sergeants and one enlisted man, is determined, in the absence of any officers or instructions, to do his duty. He will not acquiesce to unlawful orders from the rebels. He will not turn over to the rebels a seriously wounded native officer. He will defend the mess and the people in it, including the visiting and opinionated Miss Baker Wise, a member of Parliament played by Flora Robson. When Lauderdale organizes and leads a raid on the base's arms depot, now controlled by rebel soldiers, to bring arms back to the mess, he has to face a woman whose opinions are as certain as his own. "Has it occurred to you," Miss Baker Wise says emphatically, "that the rebels, or whatever you choose to call them, were leaving us alone because we were unarmed? What you are doing can only provoke more bloodshed." "Well, that's a matter of opinion," he tells her. "I'm surprised at you, ma'am. I thought you believed in all men being equal." "Of course I do. That's precisely the point." "Well," RSM Lauderdale tells her firmly, "they had guns and we didn't. That's not very equal, is it?"

While Regimental Sergeant Major Lauderdale organizes his sergeants and uses cunning and bluff to hold off a larger and better-armed rebel force, shifts in politics and power take place. He may lead a dangerous excursion with one other man to spike two rapid-fire artillery pieces brought to aim at the mess, but when the rebels win and take over the government, he finds himself more dangerously exposed that any military action would. The end of the movie leaves us with a great deal of respect for this rigid, professional Army man who's whole life is bound up in the certitudes of duty and tradition.

Attenborough's performance is extraordinary. At first it seems almost over the top, a comic caricature out of Carry On, Sergeant or Monty Python. During the next 20 minutes you realize that, while he may be smiled at behind his back by his sergeants and casually condescended to by his officers, he has his own dignity which is unshakeable. And for the last 70 minutes you come to realize that if you ever had to take part in a real crisis and battle, you could do far worse than be led by Regimental Sergeant Major Lauderdale.

His sergeants are played by reliable character actors whose faces will be remembered by those who enjoy British movies, Percy Herbit, David Lodge, John Mellon, Graham Stark and Bernard Horsefall. Jack Hawkins plays Colonel Deal, Lauderdale's colonel and a man who understands that compromises have to be made.

The DVD looks very good. There is a useful commentary by John Leyton, the actor who played the enlisted British soldier. It's value lies in Leyton's recollections about Attenborough and how he prepared for the role. Attenborough was, Leyton says, completely the opposite of a regimental sergeant major, but "in character he was spot on." Guns at Batasi is a well-made movie."
Guns at Batasi...Outstanding!
harry44callahan | Columbus, OH | 03/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Let me start by saying if you enjoy films such as "The Wild Geese", "The Hill"(hopefully, it too will be on dvd someday),"Too Late the Hero" or perhaps "Breaker Morant" you will LOVE this film! I know the films I mentioned are depicting warfare in different eras, but they star great british/european actors such as Sean Connery, Michael Cain, Ian Bannen, Edward Woodward etc.. This stars the great Richard Attenborough as the senior sergeant in charge of a group of british non-comms who are trying to maintain order in their compound after control of the country has been turned over to the native government (set in a british colony in africa). The weapons are proper for the time period...sterling smg's and FN-FALS (brit L1A1). Great drama full of wonderfully stuffy british military etiquette! About time it has been brought out on dvd, it has become almost impossible to find on vhs and they don't show it on television much anymore. Truly outstanding!"
Another one for the Boys...
Patrick Selitrenny | Switzerland a.k.a. Helvetia Felix | 01/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Little known movie, with a big cast and a hardcore story.

Richard Attenborough in one of the most atypical roles he ever played.

Many think this is a war movie. The title is misleading. It is not.

Like many movies of this genre, this is a social study on human behaviour in adverse situations.

Everything that is at its best and at its worst comes, to shine in such situations of conflict.

It is a very intelligent movie, well scripted, well directed and well played.

This is a must buy for those who love good storytelling."
Thought I Might Never See A DVD Release--'Bout Time!
Mikey | Gold River | 03/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I first viewed this fine UK production in a small theater in Oakland, California when I was 17 years of age. And, get this, it was screened as the *second film* on a double bill. The first film on the bill was (...gotta love this...) an Annette Funicello thing called "Pajama Party."
Most of the teens exited the theater when the Annette movie ended. Too bad for them.
Seeing this terrific Richard Attenborough film at that age wet my appetite for trully great acting and quality films. And it firmly set me looking for more."