Monday, November 7, 2011

Seeing Double (Quickie Movie Review)

I thought I was losing it. This morning I turn on TCM and there's Victor Mature in fun on the Northwest Frontier, so naturally I figure it's Zarak, a film I reviewed here several months ago. I recognized his costume, and the costume of the British colonel, especially his chain mail epaulets, colorful sash and blue and orange turban. It had to be Zarak because there were the same locations and sets, right?

But something was off...

First of all, the schedule showed a different title, yet there was a 'Z' in it. I finally had to give up the fight and Google it. Sure enough, there as an answer and I wasn't insane!

The Bandit of Zhobe is a 1959 production featuring Victor Mature in virtually the same character, a noble bandit in the border territory of the Northwest Frontier, wrongly accused of crimes he didn't commit and righteously fighting for his people and his life -- wearing a turban through it all. This time around Vic's wife and child are killed by a rival warlord who blames the British. Vic, as 'Kasim', embarks on a campaign against the Victorian era redcoats commanded by Colonel Crowley, whose ridiculously pacifist daughter throws herself into the mix. What we end up with is a standard action yarn enjoyable for all the reasons folks like us here love standard action yarns: manly determination and gallantry in warfare, all set against an exotic backdrop with elegant Victorian touches here and there.

What you'll notice here is that Albert Broccoli produced both this film and Zarak, using much the same action action footage for both films. That explains the identical costumes and several shared sets and locations. The similarities are such that they could have filmed both movies at the same time. Broccoli, of course, went on to bring the James Bond franchise to the big screen just a few years after The Bandit of Zhobe.

Another thing to notice is Anthony Newley. His humorous yet resourceful British corporal would have fit nicely among the cast of Zulu or even The Man Who Would Be King.

The Bandit of Zhobe is a worthy expense of an hour and a half for the diehard adventure fan.

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