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Royal Flash (1975)

Author George MacDonald Fraser’s series of novels featuring a grown-up Harry Flashman, the bully from Tom Brown’s Schooldays, were fun, but the character didn’t survive the transition to film.

The conniving 19th-century military officer is forced to impersonate a European noble as part of a plot to seize control of the country. However, once the ruse is uncovered, he must flee for his life across the Continent.

As congenital coward Captain Harry Flashman of the 11th Hussars, Malcolm McDowell lacks the necessary public school veneer and, despite effective support from the likes of Alan Bates (who would have been better cast in the lead role) and Oliver Reed (ditto), it’s really hard to care what happens to him in this Prisoner of Zenda retread.

Still, the women (Florinda Bolkan and Britt Ekland) are fun, the pace is relentless, and the period re-created with gusto; it just feels so disjointed and interminable. No other Flashman novels were filmed.


Captain Harry Flashman
Malcolm McDowell
Rudi von Starnberg
Alan Bates
Lola Montez
Florinda Bolkan
Otto von Bismarck
Oliver Reed
Duchess Irma of Strakenz
Britt Ekland
Lionel Jeffries
de Gautet
Tom Bell
Joss Ackland
Eric Hansen
Christopher Cazenove
Old roué
Roy Kinnear
Mr Greig
Alastair Sim
Michael Hordern
John Gully
Henry Cooper
Police constable
Bob Hoskins
David Jason

Richard Lester