Saturday, June 28, 2014

Flash in the Pan

Royal Flash (1975) seemed like it couldn't miss: Richard Lester directing Malcolm MacDowell, Alan Bates and Oliver Reed, plus Florinda Bolkan and Britt Ekland. Based on a story and script by George MacDonald Fraser, from the beloved Flashman stories, about the most boastful, lustful and cowardly cad and bounder in the British Empire. Oh Mr. Lester, where did it all go wrong?

It isn't the plot - Florinda Bolkan as Lola Montez seduces MacDowell as Harry Flashman into following her to Germany, where Oliver Reed as Bismark forces him into a Prisoner of Zenda situation. There are fights, slapstick, sexiness, overlapping dialog and other Lesteresque goings on. The main problem is that our Flashman is less lovable than we remember from the novels. His cowardice, vainglory, bigotry, sleaziness and dimwittedness all come across, but not his charm.

Still, it's a lot of fun if you like this sort of thing. I particularly liked Bolkan as Lola, although it reminded me of Ophuls' Lola Montes, a better movie though also flawed. The delirious camerawork, twirling around lovely Lola on her trapeze... Sorry, I got distracted.

Anyway, too bad about this. It had a lot of promise, and really, it came close to Three Musketeers level greatness at times. Maybe needed more Roy Kinnear.

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