THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
(director/writer: John Huston; screenwriters: based on a Rudyard Kipling story/Gladys Hill; cinematographer: Oswald Morris; editor: Russell Lloyd; music: Maurice Jarre; cast: Sean Connery (Daniel Dravot), Michael Caine (Peachy Carnehan), Christopher Plummer (Rudyard Kipling), Saeed Jaffrey (Billy Fish), Shakira Caine (Roxanne), Jack May (District Commissioner), Doghmi Larbi (Ootah), Mohammad Shamsi (Babu), Karroom Ben Bouih (Kafu Selim); Runtime: 129; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: John Foreman; Warner Brothers Pictures; 1975)
“A decent but hardly great adventure escapist film, that’s played for broad comedy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A decent but hardly great adventure escapist film, that’s played for broad comedy. John Huston (“Prizzi’s Honor”/”Under the Volcano”/”Fat City”) co-writes, with Gladys Hill, and directs by piling on the melodramatics. It’s based on a Rudyard Kipling story. The fable gets off to a good start but the rousing adventure tale grows increasingly tiresome as it becomes more predictable and absurd.
It opens in the 1880s, with author Rudyard Kipling (Christopher Plummer) working alone in his study, in India, when he is interrupted by a madman derelict, who mentions that he’s an old acquaintance, Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine), who met the writer on a train in India. With that, the almost unrecognizable Peachy tells of the incredible adventure that he had with his fellow opportunistic charlatan pal Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery) over the past few years. It’s a tall tale that tells us that the Brit soldiers, stationed in India, resigned from the army and fled to the remote eastern Afghanistan region of Kafiristan–a place where no white man has set foot since Alexander, but a place with lots of gold and riches in its mountains. Because of their fighting skills, the duo become overlords as they successfully lead one town against another. The conmen plan to take a fortune back to England but through a stroke of luck, the tribal head believes Danny is a god. He is prepared to crown him king and make him very wealthy. But instead of leaving while it was safe, the greedy Brits change their plans and try to take advantage of their situation to live as immortals. All’s well until Danny bleeds when scratched by the native woman he marries (Shakira Caine, Michael Caine’s real-life wife) and his posing as a god is exposed to the not too amused hostile natives.
It’s a colorful film, with perky dialogue and with rapturous visuals by cinematographer Oswald Morris. Connery and Caine have great chemistry together, plus there’s a catchy score by Maurice Jarre.
REVIEWED ON 2/23/2015 GRADE: B-