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The Black Watch (1929)

Passed | | Adventure, Drama | 22 May 1929 (USA)
Captain Donald King of the British Army goes to India just as World War I breaks out, convincing his comrades that he is a coward. In reality, he is on a secret mission to rescue British ... See full summary »


John Ford


James Kevin McGuinness (dialogue), Talbot Mundy (novel) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Victor McLaglen ... Capt. Donald Gordon King
Myrna Loy ... Yasmani
David Torrence ... Field Marshal
David Rollins ... Lt. Malcolm King
Cyril Chadwick Cyril Chadwick ... Maj. Twynes
Lumsden Hare ... Colonel of the Black Watch
Roy D'Arcy ... Rewa Ghunga
David Percy David Percy ... Soloist - Black Watch Officer
Mitchell Lewis ... Mohammed Khan
Claude King ... General in India (as Claud King)
Walter Long ... Harrim Bey


Captain Donald King of the British Army goes to India just as World War I breaks out, convincing his comrades that he is a coward. In reality, he is on a secret mission to rescue British soldiers held prisoner there. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Adventure and Mystery amid the tinkle of temple bells and the perfumes of Asiatic nights...and the love duel that went on when she gambled for an empress' tiara and only lost when a man of iron in her arms. (Print Ad- Daily News, ((St. Thomas, V.I.)) 1 November 1930) See more »


Adventure | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

22 May 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

King of the Khyber Rifles See more »


Box Office


$400,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Fox Film Corporation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Movietone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Assuming its copyright has not lapsed already, this film and all others produced in 1929 enter the U.S. public domain in 2025. See more »


Featured in Hollywood (1980) See more »


Auld Lang Syne
Lyrics by Robert Burns
Music : Scots traditional
Performed by David Percy
See more »

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User Reviews

Ford's first sound feature, underrated
18 December 2007 | by wadetaylorSee all my reviews

John Ford is in my opinion the greatest director that ever lived, and he rarely ever made a misstep. Many people have listed The Black Watch as a misstep, but in context I do not think that it is. It is true that it is dated in the way that the dialogue is spoken, but find me one sound picture from 1929 that is not.

The problem was with sound pictures themselves, the movies had developed into near perfection in 1927-1928. But then sound became all the rage, and it wasn't profitable anymore for the studios to invest in silent movies. So the masterpieces of the late silent era were put on the back burner for stagy dramas with too much dialog or musicals even more stagy than the dramas.

The Black Watch has Ford's German expressionism influenced photography that he started in the late twenties after meeting F.W. Murnau. It also has the Ford themes of Integration into a society, self sacrifice, and the bond between men.

The one major drawback is the extremely stilted dialogue. No one really understood at the time how sound should be recorded live, which led to really irregular ways of saying lines. With long pauses between each others lines, since they did not want to step on each others' lines, so as to overwork the early microphones.

Victor McLaughlin's acting wasn't his best, but he was much better than Myrna Loy who honestly seemed as though she had been hypnotized before going on the set. I thought the guy who asked forforgiveness for his violence towards his fellow man, who would then do something violent was funny.

Compared to all of John Ford's other films this is near the bottom, but compared to everything else made in sound in 1929 this is at the top of the heap.

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