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|Character||Status||Event||Real person involved||Real date|
|Lord Cardigan||Riding down Quaker meeting||fictitious|
|Clarissa Codrington||fictitious||Marriage to William Morris||Amelia Taylor||1852|
|Mrs Duberly||Adultery with Lord Cardigan||Lady Frances Paget||1841|
|Maria, Marchioness of Ailesbury||?|
|Captain Nolan||Black bottle incident||Captain J.W. Reynolds||18 May 1840|
|Spied upon||Captain Augustus Wathen||Sept 1833|
|Takes Corbett's breakfast||Fictitious|
|Summons infantry||Captain Ewart|
|Reports taking of guns|
|Captain Morris||Restrained by Lord Cardigan||Captain White|
|Lt Col Douglas||Told to give best support||Lord George Paget|
|Sir George Brown||Summoned to the field of battle||General Cathcart|
how the great duke . . .
|Sir George Brown||at Varna|
|'forfeited the sympathy '||General Sleigh||9 Jun 1840|
|Admonition of 11th. Hussars||Sir John Macdonald, Adjutant-General||22 Oct 1840|
|Riding Master Mogg||fictitious||Cigar in charge||Lord George Paget|
|Cornet Codrington||fictitious||see note below|
|Captain Featherstonehaugh||fictitious||Mess President at 'black bottle' dinner||Captain Inigo Jones||18 May 1840|
|TSM Corbett||fictitious||Spying||Two sergeants||Sept 1833|
|Flogging||Private WilliamRogers||11 Apr 1841|
|Captain Charteris||Ordering tents re-dressed||fictitious|
There was a real General Codrington in the Crimea, commanding the 1st Brigade of the Light Division. He was in command of the army in the Crimea when the war ended. He does not appear in the film, and it does not seem that we are meant to assume that he was the father of Clarissa and Cornet Codrington. The latter tells Raglan,
You knew my father, to which Raglan replies,
Yes, I did, and I didn't like him. It would have avoided confusion if Clarissa and her brother had been given a different surname.
Appendix 2. Real events which might have been used effectively, but were overlooked.▲
1. Cardigan's malice against particular officers. The 'dismount' story from 1843 would have been a good example to use, as the anonymous officer involved had an Indian groom, so assigning the role to Nolan would have been appropriate. It is briefly referred to by W-S (p.98 in paper-back edition).
2. Romaine relates that on the night after the flank march, he, Estcourt, and Cardigan were together. Estcourt had a bottle of champagne, of which Cardigan drank his share. Cardigan then retired into his spacious tent, leaving the other two to sleep on the ground outside. In the morning, when Estcourt was breaking his fast on a piece of dry biscuit, Cardigan emerged and told them that he had had a pair of good mutton chops for breakfast, but had not had the appetite to enjoy them.
3. Lucan's aide Charteris was on the causeway heights after Lucan had received the order to advance, and returned to Lucan before the start of the advance, during which he was killed at Lucan's side. This is relevant in considering Lucan's understanding of the situation vis-à-vis Raglan's, but is ignored by every account as far as I know.
4. The sending of Maxse by Cardigan to Lucan is of importance in considering the circumstances immediately preceding the charge.
5. Lucan's redeployment of the 11th Hussars should surely not be omitted from any film portraying the conflicts between the two earls.
6. The charge of the Chasseurs d'Afrique should not be missing from any film of the charge with a pretension to authenticity.
7. The efforts of I Troop to get their guns into the action would make good cinema, as would the encounter between Captain Shakespear and Cardigan as the latter returned up the valley.
Appendix 3. Examples of juvenile dialogue.▲
1. Nolan knocks Featherstonehaugh off his chair:
You are a madman, Sir!
And you are on your arse, Sir!
2. Exchange between Cardigan and Lucan at the landing:
I receive orders from Lord Raglan.
You do not receive orders from Lord Raglan.
In which case, who do I receive orders from, the Tsar's left tit?
3. At the Alma, Cardigan and Lucan exchange insults (whereas in fact they would have maintained icy silence - it is recorded that they communicated via their aides even when within yards of each other):
Draw your horse from round your ears and bring your head out of his arse!
4. Lord Cardigan objecting to the dressing of the tents:
If that line's straight, I'm a Turk's arse.
5. Cardigan complaining, after the charge, of Nolan's behaviour:
Shrieking like some tight girl, like a woman fetching off, damn him.
 ▲The principal source for this section is The British Film Guide 5 - The Charge of the Light Brigade by Mark Connelly.
As the 1960s beckoned, a new mood swept through Britain. With anger mounting at an out-of-touch establishment, the era was reflected on screen by the rise of Woodfall Films.
Founded in 1958 by director Tony Richardson, writer John Osborne and producer Harry Saltzman, the company pioneered the British New Wave, defining an incendiary brand of social realism.
I duly produced three hundred or so pages of it, wildly surreal, anachronistic, savage, over-written, pornographic, crammed with art student polemic, optimistically ironic, bitter about class and privilege; everything I felt about the British Empire, the British army, England under Queen Victoria and the first of the modern wars inspired by and based on Stephen Vincent Benet's John Brown's Body, Eisenstein's published screenplay of Ivan the Terrible and John Osborne's Tom Jones.
 ▲ Harold Wilson wrote in his biography:
When deadlock becomes total, a telephone call is put through to Lord Goodman.
 ▲ In Past and Present:National Identity and the British Historical Film at p.236 author James Chapman quotes Richardson as saying,
Originally John was to have played the role, but replacing him seemed a small price to pay to avoid the threatened prosecution. Not to John. He accused me of betrayal, and it led to a total breach between us.
It [the film] also managed to offend the cavalry regiments concerned, and military purists in general, because of Tony's insistence that all the regiments of the Light Brigade should wear cherry-coloured facings and overalls, this in spite of fierce opposition from Charles Wood, who wrote the screenplay (and who had been a regular soldier in the 17th/21st Lancers) and myself as Historical Adviser. Richardson felt that he had good visual reasons for making this decision; but, in hindsight, it undoubtedly spoiled what had been a gigantic research effort lasting no less than three years.
. . . we decided to produce a book dealing with the uniforms and equipment of the Light Brigade, . . .; this was undertaken partly for profit, and partly to prove that we did know what we were about, and were not to blame for the dreaded cherry overalls.
 ▲ Veterans, Or, Hairs in the Gates of the Hellespont. The play revolves around two veteran actors, strongly reminiscent of John Guilgud and Trevor Howard, taking part in an historical epic being filmed in Turkey. In the preface to the published version, Wood wrote:
Assumptions have been made that Veterans is based on the making of the film The Charge of the Light Brigade. I was never conscious of using anything but general experiences; the sun, the soldiers of the Turkish cavalry earning a few bob for their country, plastic cups for future archaeologists in Hittite debris, Hilton-type hotels, stones centuries old forming theatres, the soft pop of generators, miles of tripe strewn through re-shaped valleys, old and young men dressed in uniforms from England's colonial past giving cigarette to the natives, and Sir John Gielgud sat in a canvas chair day after day reading an Orwell paperback, the Sunday papers, doing the crossword, waiting, doing his job, waiting some more . . .
All the films I have worked on have contributed to Veterans and more interestingly than gossip I hope the play is concerned with deceit, exploitation, and treachery within an empire/industry run by gangsters, funny in their pretensions, vicious in their actions, showing a pathetic regard for skills and talent, and how these gangsters can be used by talented people who have acquired other talents like deceit, treachery, and the ability to be totally selfish yet remain on the best of terms with everyone, but for what?.
Curiously, the film supposedly being made in the play appears to feature the siege of Cawnpore, which was clearly the inspiration behind scenes in the 1936 Charge movie.
In Wood's 1977 comedy TV series Don't Forget to Write, one episode takes a humorous look at the experiences of a scriptwriter visiting the location shooting of his equestrian epic, Thundering Hooves, with the director and writer congratulating each other face to face, but privately blaming each other for the film's shortcomings.
 ▲ The title of Woodham-Smith's book, The Reason Why, leads the reader to suppose that what follows, namely a description of episodes in the careers of Lord Lucan and Lord Cardigan, and the ill-will between them, was somehow the cause of the disaster that befell the Light Brigade. However, her conclusion that Nolan
did believe the attack was to be down the North Valley belies that. If Nolan instructed Lord Lucan (and thus indirectly Lord Cardigan) to that effect, then the Light Brigade would still have made its ill-fated charge even had their lordships been bosom friends of impeccable reputation.
Woodham-Smith may have been the inadvertent cause of another misapprehension about the charge. She wrote that Nolan asked Morris for permission to ride with the 17th Lancers, but did she have a reliable source for that statement? If she was merely rephrasing Kinglake, then we should note that what he wrote was that Nolan told Morris he intended to ride with the brigade, which could mean with Cardigan's group ahead of the first line. In that case, Nolan's movement as the brigade started to advance takes on a different interpretation.
(In any case, by portraying Nolan as an officer of the 11th Hussars, the film makes nonsense of his request to ride with the 17th, when his own regiment was in the line.)
 ▲ Edison's 1912 movie of the Charge showed a cosy domestic familiarity between Morris and Nolan, so this may be where both the 1936 and 1968 versions got the idea.
The romantic sub-plot of the 1968 film is similar to that in the 1936 version: one woman, two men, the men bonded to each other as brother officers. This plot was already acknowledged as hackneyed in 1936, but Richardson adopts it, and is so taken with it that he gives it far more screen time than Warner Brothers would have tolerated. At Warner Brothers this plot was known as the Tiger Shark plot, after the 1932 movie with Edward G. Robinson. Any screenwriter without a current assignment was likely to be handed the script of Tiger Shark and told,
Here, rewrite that. It cropped up in various forms many times - Slim (1937), Kid Galahad (1937), Another Dawn (1937), Manpower (1941), Wagons Roll at Night (1941), etc. In the 20s and early 30s, whenever the outside of a cinema appeared in a Warner Brothers movie, and they wanted a nondescript title to show on the marquee, they used
Another Dawn, so that this title stood, in effect, for
any old movie. The fact that they used it for real in 1937 showed what they thought of this well worn plot only a year after The Charge. I doubt if they would have believed that 31 years on, a film director would still use it.
 ▲ Morris was on the staff in the Crimea, as Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General of the Cavalry Division. He had contracted cholera at Varna, and had not long returned to the front. When the commander of the 17th Lancers, Lieutenant-Colonel John Lawrenson, was sent home sick, Major Willett had assumed command. He died of exposure on 22 October, and Captain Morris was the next senior officer. Within three days he found himself commanding the lead regiment of the front line for what was obviously going to be a desperate assault. It would have been monumentally inconsiderate of Nolan to have distracted him from his immediate duties.