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The Man Who Would Be King Movie Review

huston peachy danny john

1975 – John Huston –

Director John Huston is as much fascinated by the friendship and camaraderie of his two heroes, Peachy and Danny (Michael Caine and Sean Connery), as he is by their cunning and human frailty. One of the great accomplishments of this adventure epic is the way Huston shares that fascination with the audience. Danny and Peachy are two former sergeants in Victoria's army, circa 1880, still in India where they had been posted. They meet newspaperman and fellow Mason Rudyard Kipling (Christopher Plummer) and confide in him their plans to cross the nearly impassable stretches to Kafiristan. They intend to use their superior weapons and military training to take over one of the kingdoms and set themselves up as rulers. They even call on Kipling to witness their signed oath.

The easy blend of humor and drama gives the film its warmth. As Peachy and Danny trek across mountains into unchartered areas, a snowy passage collapses, leaving them stranded in the freezing cold. They stoically prepare to die, reminiscing about their adventures and lack of regrets when the echo of their hearty laughter starts an avalanche that creates another passage leading them to safety. It is a perfect piece of plotting, the heroes simultaneously exercising their love of life and friendship and being nearly killed and then saved by these indefatigable traits. Their success in battle with their neophyte tribesmen leads to power, riches, and, of course, temptation. Neither of these blokes is as smart as he thinks he is. It is enjoyable to watch them gain power and then to like them all the more for their rascality and growing pride. The dialogue wonderfully captures both the grandiose and ordinary sides of the heroes, as when Danny, acting kingly and full of himself, tells Peachy, “You have our permission to bugger off!”

Huston wanted to film Kipling's short story in 1956 with Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable, but the death of Bogart delayed the project. He was again returning to the story, this time with Gable and Robert Mitchum, when Gable died. Richard Burton and Marlon Brando (some sources say it was Burton and Peter O'Toole) were then considered for the leads, but Burton's schedule did not give him the necessary time. Paul Newman read and liked Huston's script when it was intended as a vehicle for Newman and Robert Redford, but Newman reportedly suggested casting Caine and Connery in the parts.

Cast: Sean Connery (Daniel Dravot), Michael Caine (Peachy Carnehan), Christopher Plummer (Rudyard Kipling), Saeed Jaffrey (Billy Fish), Doghmi Larbi (Ootah), Jack May (District Commissioner), Karroom Ben Bouih (Kafu-Selim), Mohammad Shamsi (Babu), Albert Moses (Ghulam), Paul Antrim (Mulvaney), Graham Acres (Officer), Shakira Caine (Roxanne) Screenwriter: Gladys Hill, John Huston Cinematographer: Oswald Morris Composer: Maurice Jarre Producer: John Foreman for Columbia Pictures MPAA Rating: PG Running Time: 129 minutes Format: VHS, LV, DVD Awards: Academy Awards, 1975: Nominations: Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction/Set Decoration, Costume Design, Editing.

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