From a smash opening to quietly confident fade, North West Frontier is basically the ageless chase yarn, transferred from the prairie to the sun-baked plains of India and done with a spectacular flourish [adapted from a screenplay by Frank Nugent, based on an original story by Patrick Ford and Will Price].
Handled with tremendous assurance by J. Lee Thompson, the film is reminiscent of the same director’s Ice Cold in Alex, with an ancient locomotive replacing the ambulance in that desert war story and with hordes of be-turbaned tribesmen substituting for the Nazi patrols.
Time is the turn of the century when the English still held sway in India. Kenneth More plays an officer ordered to take a boy prince, sacred figurehead to the Hindus, to safety in the teeth of Moslems. In company with an assorted group, More makes his getaway from a besieged citadel in a makeshift coach drawn by a worn-out locomotive.
Throughout, the cast serves the job expertly, More coming through as solid and dependable if a shade too unemotional. Lauren Bacall scores with a keen delineation of the prince’s outspoken nurse. Herbert Lom is first-rate as a journalist. I.S. Johar is the hit of the picture as the Indian railroad man.