Review: Royal Flash (UK 1975)

To date, the only film adaptation of George MacDonald Fraser‘s highly entertaining Flashman novels, which follow a Victorian-era British officer’s globetrotting misadventures as he snivels and connives his way to women, wine and safety, while maintaining the appearance of a virtuous hero. The adaptation abbreviates the entire first book, detailing Flash’s rise to military prominence and adventures in India and Afghanistan, into a comedic flashback and instead jumps into the Central European intrigue of the second novel.

The resulting pastiche of The Prisoner of Zenda has the advantage of an icy Otto von Bismarck portrayed by Oliver Reed, and some scenic locations but, like the second novel, doesn’t capture what makes the series so great (Flashman at the Charge is a much better follow-up). Moreover, Malcolm McDowell is slightly miscast as the lead – it’s hard to imagine his googly-eyed Flashman maintaining the veneer of respectability for so long. Skip the movie, but definitely check out the amazing books. 2 out of 4 stars (Average).

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