Thunder in the East (1951)

I’ve been on an Alan Ladd kick lately.  When I was still in college, I watched a number of Alan Ladd films one summer.  I’ve been watching them over again the last few weeks on Amazon Prime.  I’ll share some of these films over the next few months.

The first film I watched was Thunder in the East (1951) starring Ladd, Deborah Kerr and Charles Boyer.  Thunder in the East is a feature film set in India right after independence in 1947.  A warlord is trying to take advantage of the transition from English to Indian rule by overthrowing the legitimate government.

Alan Ladd plays Steve Gibbs, a gun runner, who flew into the province of Gandahar hoping to sell guns to the local maharaja.  However, Prime Minister Singh, played by Charles Boyer, is a follower of Gandhi’s non-violence.  Singh seizes the weapons to keep them out of the hands of both the soldiers and the warlord.


Photo of Alan Ladd from a publicity still in the Public Domain

Steve Gibbs practices mercenary business tactics and is not a hero when the film begins.  However, Gibbs finds himself softening due to the influence of Joan Willoughby, played by Deborah Kerr, and his friendship with a young Indian boy Moti Lal.

When the party finds themselves surrounded by the warlords forces, Gibbs offers to fly the British expatriates out but for a hefty price.  His actions turn both Joan and Moti Lal against him.  As the warlord’s forces surround the maharaja’s palace, Gibbs will be forced to make some tough decisions.  I let the viewer decide on the message at the end of the film.

The film was originally released in New York in 1951 but pulled from theaters until 1953.  Ladd had decided to leave Paramount Studios, so the company wanted to spread out the release of one of their biggest star’s films.

The film runs about 97 minutes.  It is available on Amazon Prime.  Let me know what you think of Thunder in the East.

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