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The Long Duel

The Long Duel(1967)

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In India in the 1920's, British police officer Freddy Young strongly opposes his government's harsh treatment of local Bhantas, most recently reflected in his senior colleague Stafford's interment of the Bhantas following allegations of poaching made by a local landowner. Sultan, the Bhanta chief, engineers an escape from the fort, taking with him a small band of loyal followers and his pregnant wife. When she dies in labor on the long ride back to the hills, Sultan resolves to deliver his people from their bondage. Although the British officers regard Sultan as a dangerous criminal, Young recognizes him as a fellow idealist and an enemy to respect. Young's admiration for the chief conflicts with his assignment to capture the rebel; he even spares Sultan's life during a religious festival. While Stafford's daughter Jane is moved by Young's concern for the tribe and its leader, British authorities demand the immediate capture of Sultan. Young reluctantly agrees to bait the trap by putting Bhanta women and children on a train ostensibly bound for New Delhi. When Sultan intercepts the train, the British police are waiting for him. Many men, women, and children are killed in the ensuing battle, but Sultan and a few other survivors escape. Finally Young decides to plead with Sultan to give himself up, and the two antagonists meet for the first time. Both men begrudgingly respect each other, but Sultan refuses to surrender. Returning to the fort, Young learns that Champa, a captured Indian girl, has been tortured into betraying Sultan's location. While the British assemble to destroy the leader and his followers, Young seeks out Sultan to warn him. But he is too late; the chieftain is already mortally wounded. At their final meeting, Young agrees to raise the dying Sultan's young son as his own.