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MALCOLM MCDOWELL IN RICHARD LESTER'S 'ROYAL FLASH'

Malcolm McDowell as Harry Flashman in ROYAL FLASH Year: 1975 Rating: ***1/2

Malcolm McDowell himself stated via commentary he was perhaps miscast for the role of Captain Harry Flashman based on the popular British novels by Thomas Hughes, and ironically, judging by the covers, Flashman's depiction is almost a dead-ringer to McDowell's ROYAL FLASH co-star Alan Bates... 

Who would have then possibly fared better in the outwardly-perfect/inwardly-cowardice title role, giving his own secondary character to underused villain Oliver Reed, formidably scowling as ever and a solid leftover from director Richard Lester's THREE MUSKETEERS and FOUR MUSKETEERS...

ROYAL FLASH co-stars Oliver Reed and Alan Bates

Successful films that consecutively proceeded this rather forgotten, overlooked anti-epic's epic sharing the same period-genre (herein the crest of the Victorian Era): only this fictional hero's surrounded by actual historic ones...

And IF the Flashy shoe didn't fit McDowell visually, he was, following A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and O LUCKY MAN, the perfect choice for an oblivious pawn thrown from one perilous misadventure into the next, overwhelmed while "riding the whirlwind" yet remaining the same knowingly-crooked scoundrel from beginning to end...

Florinda Bolkan in ROYAL FLASH

Initially proclaiming his so-called heroic achievements before an academy of young male students one second and gambling with whores the next... after which he's literally thrust into the painfully-loving arms of Lola Montez played fervently by Florinda Bolkan, part ingenue and part antagonist... 

Yet compared to the aforementioned Bates as ever-scheming Rudi Von Sternberg working under Reed's Otto Von Bismarck (flanked by Tom Bell and Lionel Jeffries), she's but a sizzling frying pan to the inevitable fire...

Brit Ekland and Malcolm McDowell in ROYAL FLASH

Which slightly fizzles within a PRISONER OF ZENDA send-up where contrived wife Britt Ekland can't hold a candle to the sorely-missed Bolkan, and McDowell's Flashman has too much a plot to resolve, far more suited to aleatory circumstances, from provoking Reed's Bismark to a brutal boxing match (against a genuine champ) to receiving vengeful dueling scars to various vain/zany escape attempts from his goading, politically-motivated captives... 

Leading to an even more complicated task of freeing the prince who Flashman impersonated, although, by the final act, with all the running around, the sheer dedication to magnificent dungeon-set swordplay between McDowell and Bates turns this flawed comedy into one hell of an action flick. 

Malcolm McDowell and Alan Bates in ROYAL FLASH
Malcolm McDowell in ROYAL FLASH

Florinda Bolkan and Alastair Sim in ROYAL FLASH
Florinda Bolkan and Malcolm McDowell (and some Kiss fan) in ROYAL FLASH
Malcolm McDowell and Alan Bates in ROYAL FLASH with Oliver Reed
Malcolm McDowell in ROYAL FLASH with Britt Ekland
Malcolm McDowell and Alan Bates in ROYAL FLASH
Malcolm McDowell and Alan Bates in ROYAL FLASH
Malcolm McDowell and Alan Bates in ROYAL FLASH
Former nude wrestlers Oliver Reed and Alan Bates in ROYAL FLASH
Malcolm McDowell and Alan Bates in ROYAL FLASH
Malcolm McDowell and Alan Bates in ROYAL FLASH
Florinda Bolkan and Malcolm McDowell in ROYAL FLASH
Florinda Bolkan and Malcolm McDowell in ROYAL FLASH
Oliver Reed in ROYAL FLASH
Oliver Reed in ROYAL FLASH vs British champ Henry Cooper
Oliver Reed in ROYAL FLASH vs British champ Henry Cooper with Malcolm McDowell
Oliver Reed in ROYAL FLASH vs British champ Henry Cooper
Alan Bates in ROYAL FLASH along with the novel's Harry Flashman
Malcolm McDowell being sized up for The Prisoner of Zenda in ROYAL FLASH
Villainous Tom bell in ROYAL FLASH
Malcolm McDowell in ROYAL FLASH
Oliver Reed and Malcolm McDowell in ROYAL FLASH with Tom Bell & Lionel Jeffries
Malcolm McDowell in ROYAL FLASH
Oliver Reed and Malcolm McDowell in ROYAL FLASH
Opening credits for ROYAL FLASH
Opening credits for ROYAL FLASH with Rula Lenska as Helga
Opening credits for ROYAL FLASH
Bob Hoskins as club raiding cop from ROYAL FLASH
Oliver Reed and Bob Hoskins in ROYAL FLASH
JURASSIC PARK Raptor Hunter BOB PECK to the right from ROYAL FLASH
Twilight Time Blu Ray for ROYAL FLASH
Malcolm McDowell and Alan Bates in ROYAL FLASH
Malcolm McDowell and Alan Bates in ROYAL FLASH
The peacock boat from ROYAL FLASH
Malcolm McDowell and the iron maiden from ROYAL FLASH
Malcolm McDowell and a homage to Orson Welles' The Stranger in Royal Flash
Malcolm McDowell and a homage to Orson Welles' The Stranger in Royal Flash

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