An excellent film

in all departments: plot, cast, acting and directing, scenery and costmes, suspense, action. That I have watched this film at least a half dozen times, and have found it riveting with each viewing, is proof-positive of its outstanding quality (for me, at least). I'm surprised Herbert Lom's portrayal has not been commented upon before by others; I think he did a superb job portraying a character who was torn between barbarity and civility, between the philosophy of east and west. All the actors were superb.

I only know this film by the title, FLAME OVER INDIA; "North West Frontier" is a title that seems less fitting as it connotes (at least for me, again) a western, which is hardly what this film is. If anything, I guess one could legitimately call it an "eastern", eh?



This is my favourite movie of all time. The horrible thing is, I can't explain why. It just fills a spot inside. I love Kenneth More too. I'm one of the few people who enjoyed the remake of The Thirty-Nine Steps more than the original simply because of him.

We can't get the DVD here in Australia so I have to wait for it to turn up on TV. *sigh*


I saw this on tv when I was a kid back in the late 1970s. It's always stuck in my head as a wonderful adventure! Wish they made movies like this today!

I loved Wilfrid Hyde-White's character!


I totally agree with the OP -- a terrific film that remains riveting no matter how many times you see it. I've actually watched it twice in one week two times -- that is, twice each in two different weeks -- and never lost interest for a moment. And the strange thing is it is hard to put your finger on exactly why this film, and not others, has this effect. I ran it for an audience of around 40 people last summer and they raved about it -- still talking about it a week later, with several people who had missed the showing asking to borrow my copy based on its word-of-mouth! Amazing. This one goes to the desert island with me.


Yes, puddiphutt, I am with you on that one, the Kenneth More version of THE THIRTY NINE STEPS is far more enjoyable than the ropey old Hitchcock version. I have loads of Kenneth More movies on dvd and he's excellent in them all. Very fine actor. Look out for him in CHANCE OF A LIFETIME ... a really wonderful and underrated movie.


Hi, James...away from "home", I see! I've seen the KM version of 39 Steps only once, as a teen in the late 60s, and remember it only fitfully -- mainly the scene where More gives a rousing talk at a girls' school (do I recall correctly?), a variation on Donat speaking at the political rally. It's never been on homevid here in the States, though I did see it at HMV in London in December and thought about getting it. (Didn't.) But maybe I will. With such hazy memories I'm reluctant to criticize, but while the film is enjoyable enough (that much I do recall, and reviews generally agreed up to a point), I really doubt it holds up to what was one of Hitchcock's best early films, which I still love today. Ralph Thomas was a good director, but definitely no Hitchcock.

Nor have I ever been able to see Chance of a Lifetime, though I know the title (but little else). But I did finally buy and see Reach for the Sky in England, and it (and especially Kenneth) were really excellent.

Absolutely inexplicable (and unforgivable) that filmmakers abandoned More in the early 60s. What a loss to cinema.


hi hob
CHANCE OF A LIFE TIME caused a furore in 1950, and had extreme difficulty getting a release on its completion. The major distributors in Britain refused to show this low-budget independant film on the grounds that it was propaganda and not entertainment. The producer, director and star of this little gem was Bernard Miles, and he made a plea to the Film Selection Committee for it to be shown. It finally was released on the Odeon circuit, but despite good reviews, audiences stayed away in droves and it flopped badly at the box-office. Its interesting that the Evening Standard made a passionate plea at the time for its readers to go and watch it:

The story this film has to tell is as significant and urgent as today's dock strike. As a skilful piece of filming it is well above average and it has brilliantly evoked the authentic atmosphere of an English factory ... It is up to you to prove that the British public wants maturity in the cinema. Otherwise it will serve you right if you are left with nothing more to chew on than an exclusive cinematic diet of mushy and mediocre pap.

Evidently the British public opted for the mushy pap, which was their great loss. CHANCE OF A LIFE TIME maintains a gritty touch of realism through its location-shooting in a real factory and a host of believable characters portrayed by British stalwarts like Basil Radford, Nial MaGinnis, Kenneth More, Hattie Jacques and my favourite Sam Kydd. I studied this film in great detail about 15 years ago when I was writing a book on Sam Kydd's career. Nine years later Sam Kydd was in a mainstream movie about British factory workers on strike called I'M ALL RIGHT JACK which in my opinion is one of the greatest British movies of all time.

Oh, by the way hobnob, I finally bought NORTH WEST FRONTIER and its a wonderful adventure movie in every way - top class entertainment and an absolute bargain for only a fiver. It's been nice chatting with you away from the SECRET OF THE INCAS boards ... away from 'home' as you put it (good one hob, hahaha).


I just read up on Chance of a Lifetime, to get more of a sense of its plot. The review said it was excellent, one of the best British films of its type, and a triumph for Miles. The basic plot description I got was that factory owner Radford, fed up with labor difficulties, turns the plant over to the employees, who, led by Miles and More, learn just how difficult it is to run a business. Accurate? I must keep a lookout for this film, on the off-chance it ever shows up here. (There was also a 1943 film called Chance of a Lifetime, but that was a "Boston Blackie" detective B movie notable only for its being the first film directed by the great William Castle!)

Anyway, the UK COAL -- an apt acronym -- sounds great, and clearly reminiscent of the other film you cite, I'm All Right, Jack. I always thought that film -- which I have in my collection and is often shown over here -- featured one of Peter Sellers's finest, most nuanced performances, as the dictatorial (in the name of democracy) labor leader, whose accent, mannerisms, look, Sellers caught perfectly. (I have a small conceit that I have a better grasp of many aspects of British life -- not an expert understanding, just a bit more awareness -- than most Americans, which is probably fairly delusional...though I am marrying an English girl, so that must mean something!) But at least I understood the expression "I'm all right, Jack", completely unknown in America. My only quibble is that certain aspects of the bracketing story -- nudism, etc. -- were pretty lame, and Ian Carmichael (R.I.P.) was rather less than interesting as a character. But otherwise, excellent.

The protests you cited surrounding Chance in 1950 were appalling, though probably not surprising. Typical that they'd "solve" the problem by releasing the film, but burying it quickly. Corporate cowardice. Weren't there similar protests concerning Jack? And I wonder about other class-oriented films such as The Man in the White Suit as well.

Many Americans in that era thought they had labor or management troubles, but ours were nothing compared to Britain's, or most other European countries'. Different society, different takes on wealth, different realities of social mobility, different political interests, different history, etc. Ah, the good old days.

I'm so glad you bought a copy of NWF -- I would have thought you'd had it long ago. (I also saw the UK edition in HMV three months ago.) It just came out on DVD here last year, but as I've written around this site, I ran it for my summer movie group and they went wild over it -- really loved it, one of my biggest successes ever. Even I was surprised. I was invited to see Lauren Bacall, who was the guest at a film revival in New York City last November, where they screened Designing Woman, and would have liked to tell her that I had run not one, but two, of her films, to general acclaim, that year (the other was Written on the Wind). But alas, the promised Q&A period never materialized, so the opportunity to do so never presented itself.

Guess you could say I'd lost the chance of a lifetime.


I have always thought that NORTH WEST FRONTIER was a little corker, hob, but it played so often on the telly that I didn't even consider buying a copy, but because of our conversations about Herbert Lom on the SOTI boards I finally succumbed to its exotic lure.

Congratulations to you on your upcoming wedding to that occassional SOTI poster. She has only written two posts on the SOTI boards but I know that she is both intelligent and witty. You two are well matched, so my best wishes to you both.


Thank you very much, James. Actually, I think those are the only two posts she's written anywhere! We are well-matched, not least because she leaves the IMDb duties largely to me. (She thinks I'm "brilliant", which I took as a compliment until one day she referred to a new ticket vending machine at a train station in England as "brilliant". Since then, everything has, sooner or later, been "brilliant". Sigh.)

NWF doesn't play much here, as I think I noted in a conversation on another thread, so it didn't suffer from familiarity when it came out on DVD here. But it's turned into one of those films I can watch repeatedly with no diminution of enjoyment.

As Catherine (a.k.a., "akapansy") would say, "Brilliant!"