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Thunder in the East
Adventure , Drama

1952 | FULLSCREEN | B&W | Quality: Excellent

Alan Ladd

Deborah Kerr

Charles Boyer



Alan Ladd is Steve Gibbs - an unscrupulous smuggler with no loyalties except money. It's 1947 and India has just broken free of the British Empire, but a civil war is brewing as Muslims and Hindus continue to clash. Gibbs sees dollar signs in the conflict and decides to take advantage by selling arms to the highest bidder. He lands his plane unannounced in Ghandahar, a province in northern India which is about to be attacked by a Muslim insurgency. But his plans go astray when he finds the local Maharajah (Charles Lung, very poorly cast) is nothing but a playboy and ultimately a coward, and the Prime Minister (Charles Boyer) would rather follow Gandhi's non-violent example to dealing with problems - even at great personal cost. By then it's too late to leave, and the insurgents are about to arrive, and worst or best of all, Ladd meets a woman (Deborah Kerr), which really starts to make things complicated.

Alan Ladd is his vintage self here - tough, no-nonsense and self-assured even when things start to hit the fan - all those traits that served him so well in the Noir genre. Deborah Kerr turns in a very intelligent performance playing a character that has an interesting twist (I won't spoil). She has a quiet depth about her which adds a lot of dignity and grace to a role that a lesser actress might have botched. Charles Boyer puts in a fantastic performance as the ardent Gandhi disciple who puts forward wisdom, prayer, kindness and love to combat not only the violence of the Muslim insurgents (who he refers to as his brothers), but also the reactionary minds of the British, Alan Ladd's greed, and the complete irresponsibility of the Maharajah. Ladd and Boyer have a series of arguments regarding their differing views on how to deal with the insurgency, and through these the film offers some interesting critique of Gandhi's philosophy of non-violent resistance. Boyer's character really goes through hell, and his arc, to me, was the real focal point of the story and one that provokes a lot of questions and thought. Ladd and Kerr work well together and their love story, though fairly predictable, is very sweet. The ending of this film is controversial - some love it, some are disappointed by it, and some are flat-out repulsed. It's thought-provoking - I myself have pondered over it for years - which I consider to be a mark of good filmmaking. I'll leave it to you to judge.

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