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The Charge of the Light Brigade(1936)

Of the eight films co-starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, this romantic epic is one of the least seen, mainly due to complaints about the mistreatment of horses in the thrilling climactic charge inspired by Alfred Tennyson’s poem. In their second film together, Flynn is a British officer in India engaged to de Havilland only to learn she is in love with his brother (Patric Knowles). Departing liberally from history, the film suggests that the love triangle, as well as an act of betrayal by an Indian sultan, are inspiration for the famous charge that took place in 1854. The picture was also inspired by the success of Paramount’s The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935), which forced the production to add The Crimean War scenes at the end in order to avoid charges that they were just aping the earlier film. The picture was shot on a grand scale, with the construction of an entire British garrison in the California desert where the cast worked in severe weather conditions during the massive battle scenes. The use of trip wires led to the deaths of 25 horses, causing a fistfight between the passionate horseman Flynn and director Michael Curtiz. The result of the deaths kept Warner Bros. from reissuing the film and brought about stricter control from the U.S. government over animal use in filmmaking. (d. Michael Curtiz, 115m, 35mm)

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