The Stranglers of Bombay Film Details
Overview: In the 1830s, a captain in the East India Company lobbies to investigate the criminal Thugee Cult of Kali, an organized crime group of stranglers and thieves.
Tagline: This is true! This is real! This actually happened!
Review: It’s a Hammer film but maybe not the kind you’d expect. Guy Rolfe is a captain in the British Army in 1820s India. The real ruler of the area is the British East India Company, and the company is worried. They ship their goods in caravans and the caravans and goods have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Something must be done, d’you heah me! Rolfe is a tall, rugged figure with an authoritative stride. He has a pretty blond wife and he’s happy in the army, but he has trouble convincing his commanding officer, not to mention the executives at British East India, that something more than simple brigandry is afoot. The captain is a keen observer and he picks up clues that there is a cultish group insinuating their members into traveling caravans, then robbing them and murdering all the members of the caravan with sacred scarves, as part of the worship of Kali, whom the astute viewer will remember from “Gunga Din.” The thugs even have a mole in the officer corps and Rolfe plays hell defeating them and their vile movement. It begins interestingly enough. The screenplay by David Goodman is well written. It’s unexpectedly historically accurate. British East cares only that its caravans are being disappeared. Rolfe is the only officer who bring up the fact that many thousands of travelers are disappearing with them. Gradually, the emphasis of the story shifts from Rolfe and his conundrum to the cult of Thugees themselves, and it sort of slides a little downhill from there. It’s impossible to avoid the depiction of violence entirely in a story about a movement whose chief aim was murder and theft, but the director, Terence Fisher, seems to linger over the gruesome details. What was shocking in Carl Dreyer’s “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is here presented with relish. It’s the sort of thing — the long and loving preparation for the burning out of eyeballs and the cutting out of tongues — that would lead to Michael Madsen’s speech about the pleasure he’s going to get from torturing his helpless prisoner in “Reservoir Dogs”. And, after that, to what appears to be gelling into a genre of its own, the pornography of torture. The dialog seems to invite the viewer to join in the excitement of an alluring execution. Rolfe mutters to an enlisted man, “This is a public hanging and look at those men laughing.” The sergeant replies, “Well, we all enjoy it a bit, sir.” It’s the most provocative line in the movie. Rolfe aside, Allen Cuthbertson is splendid as the spoiled, snobbish, over-confident, scoffing new officer who is the CO’s pet. It was a part he’d played before (“The Guns of Navarron”)and would play in the future. The leader of the Thugees is George Pastell and he’s miscast. A shaven head simply doesn’t get the job done. You want a great Capo for the Thugees? Check out Eduardo Ciannelli in “Gunga Din.” There’s a man who’s pure evil for you. Rolfe’s wife is dispensable. Much of the supporting cast seem to have been picked out of a street crowd for their looks rather than their talent. There are a couple of outdoor shots that don’t look much like India, and in fact the production suffers from a smallish budget. The uniforms are convincing enough but the jungle is obviously in a studio. And the kookaburra is thousands of miles from home. Not a failure, but lacks polish and poetry.
Country: United Kingdom
Duration: 80 min
Genre: Action, Adventure, History
Also known as: Oi strangalistai tis Vomvais,Strangulatorii din Bombay,The Stranglers of Bombay,Les Étrangleurs de Bombay,Los estranguladores de Bombay,Bombay Canavarları,Die Würger von Bombay,Gli strangolatori di Bombay,Os Estranguladores de Bombaim,Kadonneitten salaisuus,Davitelji iz Bombaja,Stranglers of Bengal,Удушвачите от Бомбай,陰母神カーリ,Душители из Бомбея,Kvælerne fra Bombay,Душителі з Бомбея