Friday movie pick: “Well, they’ve got a very good bass section, mind, but no top tenors, that’s for sure.”*

by chuckofish

On this day in 1879 the Battle of Rorke’s Drift ended.

The Defense of Rorke'e Drift by Alphonse de Neuville

The Battle of Rorke’e Drift by Alphonse de Neuville

Just over 150 British and colonial troops successfully defended the garrison in Natal, South Africa against an intense assault by 3,000 to 4,000 Zulu warriors. The Battle of Rorke’s Drift lasted 10 hours, from late afternoon till just before dawn the following morning. The massive Zulu attacks on Rorke’s Drift came very close to defeating the tiny garrison. By the end of the fighting, 15 soldiers lay dead, with another two mortally wounded. Surrounding the camp were the bodies of 350 Zulus. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders, along with a number of other decorations and honors.

You can read all about it here. I am more interested in watching the movie Zulu (1964), which is one of our all-time favorites.


My dual personality and I were, of course, too young to see it when it came out, but my parents did and so did my older brother. They all loved it and we heard all about it in vivid detail. When we eventually got a chance to watch it on television, we were not disappointed.


My heroes: Bromhead and Chard

It has all the elements of a great battle yarn. As Victor Davis Hanson writes, “…in the long annals of military history, it is difficult to find anything quite like Rorke’s Drift, where a beleaguered force, outnumbered forty to one, survived and killed twenty men for every defender lost.”

So my movie pick for this Friday is Zulu (1964). The film stars Stanley Baker and introduces Michael Caine (“Well chin-chin…do carry on with your mud pies.”)–in his first major role, with a supporting cast that includes Jack Hawkins (“You’re all going to die!”), James Booth (“I’m excused duty.”), Nigel Green (“Because we’re here, lad. Nobody else. Just us.”), and Patrick Magee–a veritable who’s who of 1960s English actors. The film begins with a narration by the famed Welshman Richard Burton and ends with his reading a list of the eleven defenders who received the Victoria Cross for the defense of Rorke’s Drift, the most awarded to a regiment in a single action up to that time.

I should also note that the soundtrack by John Barry is one of the greatest. We had the LP when I was a child and we loved it. It includes the narrated parts by Richard Burton.

Zut alors! This movie is over 50 years old! Can you believe it? Well, chin-chin, have a good weekend!

*Private Owen