The Black Watch (1929)


The Black Watch is a 1929 American Pre-Code adventure epic film directed by John Ford and starring Victor McLaglen, Myrna Loy, and David Torrence.

Written by James Kevin McGuinness based on the 1916 novel King of the Khyber Rifles by Talbot Mundy, the film is about a captain in the British Army’s Black Watch regiment assigned to a secret mission in India just as his company is called to France at the outbreak of World War I. His covert assignment results in his being considered a coward by his fellows, a suspicion confirmed when he becomes involved in a drunken brawl in India that results in the apparent death of another officer. The film features an uncredited 21-year-old John Wayne working as an extra; he also worked in the arts and costume department for the film. This was director John Ford’s first sound film.

Refer to King of the Khyber Rifles (1953). Also known as King of the Khyber Rifles (working title, US; new title, UK).


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.


  • Victor McLaglen as Captain Donald Gordon King.
  • Myrna Loy as Yasmani.
  • David Torrence as Field Marshal.
  • David Rollins as Lieutenant Malcolm King.
  • Cyril Chadwick as Major Twynes.
  • Lumsden Hare as Colonel of the Black Watch.
  • Roy D’Arcy as Rewa Ghunga.
  • David Percy as Soloist, Black Watch Officer.
  • Mitchell Lewis as Mohammed Khan.
  • Claude King as General in India.
  • Walter Long as Harrim Bey.
  • Francis Ford as Maj. MacGregor.
  • Frederick Sullivan as General’s Aide.
  • Richard Travers as Adjutant.
  • Pat Somerset as O’Connor, Black Watch Officer.
  • Joseph Diskay as Muezzin.
  • Joyzelle Joyner as Dancer.
  • Gregory Gaye as a 42nd Highlander (uncredited).
  • Mary Gordon as Sandy’s Wife (uncredited).
  • Bob Kortman as a 42nd Highlander (uncredited).
  • Tom London as a 42nd Highlander (uncredited).
  • Jack Pennick as a 42nd Highlander (uncredited).
  • Randolph Scott as a 42nd Highlander (uncredited).
  • Phillips Smalley as the Doctor (uncredited).
  • Lupita Tovar in a Bit Part (uncredited).
  • John Wayne as a 42nd Highlander (uncredited).


  • This was the first sound feature that John Ford directed.
    • Unable to shout orders to the actors, he had his brother, First Assistant Edward O’Fearna dress up as a rifleman and mingle with the crowd whispering Ford’s instructions to the principal actors.
  • John Wayne, then known as Marion “Duke” Morrison worked as a prop boy on this film.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • John Ford.
  • Producer(s):
    • Winfield R. Sheehan … producer (uncredited).
  • Writer(s):
    • James Kevin McGuinness … (dialogue).
    • Talbot Mundy … (novel).
    • John Stone … (writer).
  • Music:
  • Cinematography:
    • Joseph H. August … (as Joseph A. August).
  • Editor(s):
    • Alex Troffey.
  • Production:
    • Fox Film Corporation.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Fox Film Corporation (1929) (USA) (theatrical).
    • Fox Film Company (1929) (Canada) (theatrical) (as Fox FIlm Company, Ltd.).
    • Fox Film Company (1929) (UK) (theatrical) (re-titled).
    • Fox Film Corporation (1929) (Australia) (theatrical).
    • Fox Film Corporation (1929) (Australia) (theatrical) (as Fox Film Company, Ltd.).
    • Oy Films (1931) (France) (theatrical).
  • Release Date: 08 May 1929 (Premiere, US).
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Running Time: 93 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link(s)

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