The recent Warner Archive DVD release of the 1951 comedy "Soldiers' Three," which is based on a Rudyard Kipling story, nicely proves that a classic story never gets old. The theme this time is that man can never permanently change the course of a river.
The following YouTube clip of the "Soldiers" trailer shows how the combination of literary and screen star power makes for an exciting and amusing action-adventure film. It also shows the basis for calling the titular British GIs the Queen's Hard Bargain.
Our story begins in the present of the film; a group of young Turks is listening to an old war horse of a general cynically discuss how he achieves that high rank. The action then shits to 19th-century Indai, where we meet our central rogues.
Privates Ackroyd ( Stewart Granger), Sykes (Robert Newton), and Malloy (Cyril Cusack) are up to their usual exploits. These escapades continue in a manner that shows that these three actors make the Three Stooges look like Adam Sandler or James Franco and their respective posses.
Our excitable boys soon take things too far. They not only make an unauthorized trip into a not-so-nearby town but make a grand return in a manner and at a time that maximizes embarrassment to commanding officer Colonel Brunswick (Walter Pidgeon).
The real fun begins with Brunswick trying a tactic that it is believed also is used in an episode of the '60s militarycom "Gomer Pyle," Brunswick calls the guys in to announce that he is using a divide-and-conquer approach in the form of promoting one of them to sergeant regardless of whether that private wants that rank. The rest of that story is that the group is ordered to select the unlucky man among themselves. The manner in which this is worked out is a prime example of the aforementioned wonderful comedic chemistry among the actors.
Things take a expected turn as the reluctantly assumed responsibilities that are thrust on Ackroyd due to his enhanced rank causes the predicted dissension among the ranks. This largely is in the form of resentment by those left behind.
The game-changer comes in the form of Ackroyd being the odd man out when the rest of his comrades find themselves in a very sticky wicket. This situation also reflects some of the tensions related to the British presence in India.
The manner in which thing work out nicely reflect modern military thinking.
The bigger picture is that "Soldiers" shows the potential for an Army buddy comedy.