Regimental Sergeant Major Lauderdale is a spit-and-polish, by-the-book disciplinarian, who seems like a 19th century anachronism in a sleepy peacetime African outpost of the modern British Commonwealth. He is ridiculed behind his back by his subordinate NCOs and must play host to a liberal female MP making a tour of the base. However, when an ambitious African officer, who happens to be a protege of the MP, initiates a coup d'etat against Captain Abraham, the lawful African commandant, the resourceful RSM uses all his military training to arm his men despite being under house arrest, and rescue the wounded commandant from a certain firing squad. When Lt. Boniface, the leader of the mutiny, surrounds the sergeants' mess with two Bofors guns, it looks like Lauderdale will have to surrender unless he again disobeys orders and takes the initiative. Written by
Gabe Taverney (email@example.com)
It's the early 60's, Africa is being decolonised and a supposedly peaceful transition from colony to independent nation goes awry. All that stands between order and "enemies of the new state" being butchered is Dickie Attenborough's RSM and his Sergeant's mess. He has to defend his barracks, put up with a naive left wing politician, a young girl who's taken a fancy to a conscript private who wants his last day in the army to go without a hitch, a wounded African officer who is greatly respected by the RSM, but is an enemy of the new army he's supposed to be in charge of and a largely absent British officer corps. But this won't get Dickie down; the worse things get, the more determined and resolved he gets. Some of his dialogue is fantastic and his calm (and not so calm) put downs of those who threaten him or complain to him are brilliant. Like Anthony Hopkins in "Remains of the Day", his is a lifetime of service and duty; but one that kicks serious ass.
It's one of Attenborough's finest performances: Certainly up there with Brighton Rock.
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