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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > British > History > Satire > Royal Flash (1975/DVD-Video)

Royal Flash (1975/DVD-Video)


Picture: C+†††† Sound: C+†††† Extras: C+†††† Film: C+



Trying to trade in on his phenomenal success with Stanley Kubrickís A Clockwork Orange (1971), Malcolm McDowell took on the more comic and less cutting edge role of Captain Harry Flashman in Richard Lesterís Royal Flash (1975), which opens up with a slow Kubrickian zoom pullout and turns into the kind of British comedy that was wearing thin by the 1960s.


It too takes place at least a century before, this time 19th Century Europe, where Harry is trying to con his way to the top of aristocracy, but his bravado allows him to get mixed up with the infamous Otto von Bismarck (Oliver Reed) and is conned (or is that out-conned) by Bismarck to seduce and marry a key duchess (Britt Ekland) for reasons of power and manipulation.He is discovered and that is just the beginning of a long series of messes and disasters Harry finds himself in.


Of course, this is also a comedy and as flighty as Lesterís mixed takes on The Three Musketeers and veers closer to the disaster of his destruction of the Christopher Reeve/Superman franchise.McDowell and the cast also including Alan Bates, Joss Ackland, Christopher Cazenove, Lionel Jeffries, Alastair Sim, Rula Lenska and an early Bob Hoskins.


Of course, the story sounds like another film that came out the same year, Kubrickís A Clockwork Orange follow-up Barry Lyndon, a masterpiece that does everything well that this often misguided film falters at.They make for a good comparison, but as compared to the Kubrick masterwork (and even without such a comparison), Royal Flash shows that Lester ran out of innovative ideas and was living on past glory.It is an interesting curio and not much more.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.66 X 1 (ish) image was made to be soft to recall the past, but this transfer further softens the fine camerawork by the great Geoffrey Unsworth, B.S.C., who was in peak form at the time with Kubrickís 2001, Zardoz, and Sidney Lumetís Murder On The Orient Express.The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Mono are about the same, showing the age of this film in its fidelity.The Ken Thorne score is adequate, but nothing special.Extras include stills, the original trailer, decent feature length audio commentary with Malcolm McDowell and Film Historian Nick Redman and three featurettes: Inside Royal Flash, Meet Harry Flashman and soundtrack that isolated sound effects and music.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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