Over the years, there have been numerous stories published or otherwise repeated about the production of Warner Bros, action film THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (1936).
These anecdotal accounts received additional heft in 1975 with the publication of David Niven’s memoir BRING ON THE EMPTY HORSES.
Among other recollections, Niven wrote about director Michael Curtiz’s “carnage” of injured and dead horses caused by his ordering the use of a “Running W” or trip wire during action scenes that were supposedly filmed in Mexico.
Other versions included a fight between Errol Flynn and Curtiz that never occurred (There was a physical confrontation between both men that occurred six years later during DIVE BOMBER) reportedly caused by Flynn’s rage over the director’s alleged indifference to the welfare of animals with the number of horses crippled or killed during the making of the picture ranging from 20 to 100 or many more.
My research, based on studio production records, correspondence and legal files( including sworn affidavits and photographs) and other sources, revealed an accurate and less fabulist account of what occurred during production of the film.
“In a superbly researched, highly compelling account of one of cinema’s most gifted and underrated directors, Rode provides a vivid description of Curtiz’s personality and work- ing methods. It is di cult if not impossible to imagine a more complete account of his life.” —Steven C. Smith, author of A Heart at Fire’s Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann