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The Stranglers of Bombay

The Stranglers of Bombay
Movie: The Stranglers of Bombay(1959)[tt0054346] A murderous religious cult is way-laying travellers and stealing goods in nineteenth century India. As the disappearances mount and trade becomes difficult, the British East India Company is forced to act. But they give the job to an upper-class officer completely out-of-touch with the country rather than the obvious candidate who has been in India for years and well understands the people and culture. Written byJeremy Perkins {J-26}
Title The Stranglers of Bombay
Release Date 4 December 1959 (UK)
Runtime
Genres Action, Adventure, History, Horror
Production Companies Hammer Films, Kenneth Hyman
Guy Rolfe
Guy Rolfe...
Capt. Harry Lewis...
Allan Cuthbertson
Allan Cuthbertson...
Capt. Christopher Connaug...
George Pastell
George Pastell...
High Priest of Kali...
Marne Maitland
Marne Maitland...
Patel Shari...
Jan Holden
Jan Holden...
Mary Lewis...
Paul Stassino
Paul Stassino...
Lt. Silver...
Tutte Lemkow
Tutte Lemkow...
Ram Das...

Reviews

tomgillespie2002 on 16 July 2018
The closing title card of this lesser-known title from Hammer's back catalogue reads "if we have done nothing else for India, we have done this one good thing." Referring to the British East India Company's governance over India for over a hundred years, The Stranglers of Bombay depicts the disappearance of thousands of India's population at the hands of the 'Thugees', an organised gang of murderers and thieves who operated relatively undetected for more than 600 years, and how their operations were eventually brought to an end. It is a subject that would no doubt be handled more delicately if tackled today, and I'm sure that those sensitive to modern PC standards may be somewhat offended by the film, but Stranglers is well-balanced and ultimately apologetic for the Company's occupation, finding a positive note in what was a barbaric time.Captain Harry Lewis (Guy Rolfe) of the East India Company is the only person interested in the reports of over a thousand disappearances, attempting to bring the mystery to the attention of his superiors. However, Colonel Henderson (Andrew Cruickshank) is more concerned with solving the mystery of how English merchants' caravans are similarly disappearing without a trace. To get Lewis off his back, Henderson agrees to an investigation, but opts to hand the reigns to the inexperienced and pompous Captain Connaught-Smith (Allan Cuthbertson). Frustrated at Connaught-Smith's bungling and the general disdain he has for the Indian people, Lewis quits the Company to carry out his own inquiry, and uncovers a murderous cult who make sacrifices in the name of their god, Kali. Led by the High Priest of Kali (George Pastell), the gang's influence goes all the way to the very top, which is how they have managed to remain in the shadows for centuries.The Stranglers of Bombay is low on horror but higher on adventure. The violence is implied rather than shown, but the film doesn't shy away from their grotesque acts. Eyes and tongues are removed, but most are garrotted with a ceremonial silk scarf. It's off-camera, but nevertheless effective. When the action is away from the thugees, the story plays out more like a period detective thriller, as Lewis plunges himself deeper into this secret world while the population denies the group's very existence. It's no surprise then to learn that frequent Hammer collaborator Terence Fisher is behind the camera, who would always shoot efficiently and make his films appear more expensive than they actually were. The absence of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing is almost always felt when watching a Hammer horror, but leading man Guy Rolfe proves to be a perfectly watchable leading man, earning our sympathy as the one decent white man in a company of incompetent and uncaring fellow officers. While more attention could have been given to the suffering of the Indian people, the film's heart is certainly in the right place, making it one of Hammer's most interesting, while not their most thrilling, entries into the genre.

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