"The Lives of a Bengal Lancer" is a top-notch adventure story, supplemented by capable acting. Drawing freely from Rudyard Kipling and other authors who have portrayed men under stress of physical danger, Adolph Zukor has transformed William Yeats-Brown's book into an hour of absorbing entertainment.
A British regiment, must render ineffectual the subtle schemes of an Indian potentate, who is willing to guard his privacy with medieval tortures. Loyalty to the traditions of the regiment and its effect on human emotion are represented in the commanding colonel. Under his command are his son, whom duty commands he disregard; a replacement from the Blues whose Oxford training has lent a veneer to his emotions; and the lieutenant who rebels against the substitution of duty for human affections. The actions of these four individuals make up the story.
If the acting were insufficient, the story would become trivial. More specifically, any type of adventure story demands a certain type of character for its roles with the result that individual interpretations must be thrown into the discard. The struggle of the colonel, Sir Guy Standing, between devotion to the army and love for his son lends coherence to the plot. Richard Cromwell brings to the role of the son a sincerity which overcomes the unpleasant aspect of his part, a sufficient proof of his ability. The reactions of Gary Cooper as the rebellious officer and Franchot Tone as the Blues replacement under fire should provide an estimate of their contributions. Bargaining for the honor of dashing in front of machine guns to destroy dangerous ammunition, Cooper boasts he ran the 220 in 22 see, at McGill. "Where is McGill?" replies Tone.