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
Rudi von Starnberg
Otto von Bismarck
Duchess Irma of Strakenz