Retiring British General Brunswick (Walter Pidgeon) reminisces about how he rose to his rank ...
Private Archibald Ackroyd (Stewart Granger), Private Dennis Malloy (Cyril Cusack), and Private Jock "Bill" Sykes (Robert Newton)--"three of the most undisciplined rascals who ever soldiered for the crown"--have served together in his regiment in India through thick and thin for 18 years. Known as "The Queen's Hard Bargain," the trio are "not worth a lead coin as private citizens, but each of them worth five men in a fight. They'd lie and cheat and steal among themselves, but woe to the outsider who tried." When not engaged in battle, they drink, gamble, pick fights, flirt with the ladies, scheme, and generally get into mischief together, to the chagrin of their persnickety captain, Pindenny (David Niven), who is fiercely loyal to then-Colonel Brunswick. Brunswick's authority is being challenged by the recently-arrived commander of the cavalry, Colonel Groat (Frank Allenby), and the "three-headed monster of the Rutlands" threaten to make a fool of him. The soldiers' latest escapade has resulted in an unusual punishment: Brunswick forces them to choose one among themselves to advance to the rank of sergeant. The promotion results in squabbles and hard feelings, and jeopardizes their friendship, until they and their commander are put to the test in putting down a rebellion by Indian leader Manik Rao (Michael Ansara).
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