Under Two Flags (1936)

Under Two Flags (1936)

“Seeing a lady like that makes a fellow feel sort of… homesick, doesn’t it, sir?”

A French Foreign Legionnaire (Ronald Colman) in Algeria falls in love with a visiting noblewoman (Rosalind Russell), who is equally smitten with him. Meanwhile, Colman’s commander (Victor McLaglen) is jealous and upset that his girlfriend “Cigarette” (Claudette Colbert) has also fallen for Colman, and attempts to send Colman into numerous dangerous situations.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Claudette Colbert Films
  • Historical Drama
  • Love Triangle
  • Military
  • Ronald Colman Films
  • Rosalind Russell Films
  • Victor McLaglen Films

Modern film fanatics will likely be unfamiliar with the bestselling 1867 novel upon which this romantic desert war flick is based, though it was popular enough to have undergone numerous adaptations before this one. Unfortunately, the story hasn’t aged well at all, coming across these days as simply an orientalist excuse to mount elaborate battle scenes in what the opening title cards tell us is “North Africa at the turn of the century — a land of eternal mystery — primitive, barbaric, the camel train its only link with the outer world.” The lead actors all try their best with the material they’re given, but they’re merely caught up in a standard cross-class love quadrangle which can clearly only end one way. The location shooting (in Arizona) is quite effective, but otherwise this one is only must-see viewing for completists of Colman, Colbert (who replaced both Simone Simon and Barbara Stanwyck in her role), Russell, or McLaglen.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Effective cinematography

Must See?
No; you can skip this one.


One thought on “Under Two Flags (1936)

  1. First viewing. Agreed; skip it.

    A rather forgotten film – and it’s not hard to see why. Almost immediately – and then throughout, it’s largely dull. (I actually found it a chore getting through this. It’s a little over 90 minutes but I felt the need to take a number of breaks.)

    But, yes, there are two somewhat-big battle scenes near the end… if that means anything.

Leave a Reply