The North West Frontier of India at the turn of the 20th century was a turbulent, sun-scorched province – a blazing trouble spot populated by some of the fiercest and toughest fighters on the planet – the vicious Pathans.
Captain Scott (Kenneth More) is sent by the British Governor to rescue a young Prince (Govind Raja Ross) and his American governess, Catherine Wyatt (Lauren Bacall) when a rebellion breaks out among the Muslim tribe, who are hereditary enemies of the Hindu Maharajah (Frank Olegario).
Three hundred miles must be covered to take Prince Kishan to safety in Kalapur, and the last train has gone.
Their only chance is a temperamental old shunting engine – the Empress of India fondly referred to as “Victoria”- which the tough, happy-go-lucky Captain mans with a handful of troops and seven Europeans.
It is a hair-raising journey, but miraculously, they overcome obstacles such as treachery and sabotage while contending with an enemy from the hills – and an unexpected enemy travelling with them, in the shape of a Dutch journalist named Peter Van Leyden (Herbert Lom).
Indian actor I.S Johar is a hoy as Gupta the engine driver.
The film was a major hit in the UK and was listed amongst the six most popular films in Britain for 1959.
The famous viaduct sequence in the movie was shot at Hacho Bridge between Guadahortuna and Alamedilla in Andalucía, Spain. The old railway seen in this picture – also seen in Red Sun (1971), The Long Duel (1967) and Seven Guns for the MacGregors (1966) – is now abandoned and no longer used.
Peter Van Leyden
Sir John Windham
Govind Raja Ross
Staff Colonel at Kalapur Station
J. Lee Thompson