Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Man who would be King

John Huston, 1975, 145m
A lesser film than one would expect from Huston. It is set in India and based on Kipling. Only the rope trick is missing. The Indians are treated with scant respect, and made the butt of ridicule and scorn. Being filmed in Morocco and made by an American, the Indians resemble no segment past or present and often speak no recognizable dialect. The grandeur of locales is strictly monotonous. There is much plain stupidity, perhaps because Kipling's time was one in which the world was yet unexplored with room for mystery, magic and absurdity. If Huston is true to Kipling, it is clear Kipling had little interest in the country of his birth, if not domicile, except as a colorful literary background to the lives of the white man. Saeed Jaffrey provides a breeze of familiarity in this ill baked portrayal of India. However, the directorial command and narrative power is in evidence and this would come off as good escapist fare for a non-subcontinental viewer. As an American, it is unfair to fault Huston with colonialist malice of the nineteenth century European kind, and his caricature of India can be excused as an innocent historical hangover. Huston's forte is Hemingway style masculinity, including a mature posture towards death. Michael Caine and Sean Connery have given a memorable performance as the lead pair, and no less has Plummer as Kipling himself.
Vincent Canby:
".....It's a tall tale, a legend, of steadfastness, courage, camaraderie, gallantry and greed....and has just enough romantic nonsense in it to enchant the child in each of us."


Anonymous said...

Huston initially wanted Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart for his movie, but the production was postponed and both actors died. Caine and Connery are more suitable, and their chemistry on the screen is wonderful to watch.

By the way, the woman who bites Connery in the movie is Shakira Caine. who is Caine's wife.

S. M. Rana said...

British accent and personality was a must for this movie with colonialist setting.