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Gunga Din (1939)

 -  Adventure | War  -  17 February 1939 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 7,632 users  
Reviews: 92 user | 39 critic

In 19th century India, three British soldiers and a native waterbearer must stop a secret mass revival of the murderous Thuggee cult before it can rampage across the land.

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(screen play), (screen play), 9 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Eduardo Ciannelli ...
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Montagu Love ...
Robert Coote ...
Abner Biberman ...
Lumsden Hare ...
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Storyline

Based loosely on the poem by Rudyard Kipling, this takes place in British India during the Thuggee uprising. Three fun loving sergeants are doing fine until one of them wants to get married and leave the service. The other two trick him into a final mission where they end up confronting the entire cult by themselves as the British Army is entering a trap. This is of the "War is fun" school of movie making. It has the flavour of watching Notre Dame play an inferior high school team. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

british | thuggee | india | sergeant | army | See more »

Taglines:

Tuned to the rolling boom of red drumfire in a land where elephants shoulder the artillery, and a man fights on water---or dies! See more »

Genres:

Adventure | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 February 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aufstand in Sidi Hakim  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,910,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (reissue)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Eight make-up artists were sent to the Lone Pine set, where they worked for the six weeks of location shooting. Over 600 extras were employed in the Mount Whitney scenes. See more »

Goofs

In every scene with the snake pit, the strings making them move are visible. See more »

Quotes

Sgt. Archibald Cutter: Is there no end to the torture that an Oriental mind can think of?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits appear on a gong. Standing next to the gong is a Hindu man, and every time he strikes the gong, the credits change. See more »

Connections

Featured in That's Action (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

Will Ye No Come Back Again?
(uncredited)
Written by Lady Carolina Nairne
See more »

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User Reviews

Politically incorrect only to the historically ignorant
12 May 2003 | by (Western Springs, Illinois) – See all my reviews

While it is fashionable in too many circles to condemn anything which portrays European colonialism generally, and the British Empire specifically, in a favorable light, a little historical knowledge will show that Kipling's story, as well as this superb film, are hardly the reactionary racist screed some would like to demote them to. Gunga Din is a regimental bhisti - a water carrier - and in 19th century India that meant that he had a job which guaranteed a place to sleep and food in a very brutal society. Considering that he was also an "untouchable" - a member of India's lowest caste - this was something. Colonel Weed is correct in saying "he had no official status as a soldier" - bhistis were non-military auxiliaries. As for his loyalty to the British, there were many Indians who clearly preferred British rule to that of their fellows - and not just the maharajas and princes.

If you read the story - and watch the movie with an objective eye - at the end, all the major characters have nothing but respect for Gunga Din. Sergeant MacChesney (Victor McLaglen) is clearly shamed by the fact that Din, in the end, was not only the better soldier but the better man - he sacrificed himself to prevent the ambush and massacre of the British column. The most telling example that the movie doesn't "put down" Gunga Din is at the end when Colonel Weed posthumously appoints the former regimental bhisti as a Corporal in the regiment. Corporal was a BRITISH rank - the equivalent Indian rank was Havildar. So, he was appointed as a BRITISH non-commissioned officer who could command British troops - hardly an example of political incorrectness.

Yes, this is "men-as-buddies" flick. However, this movie has a special appeal to anyone who has actually served in the military - those are the types of friendships you make (you'll share your last drop of water with your mess mate) and keep for the rest of your days. It acknowledges that. So enjoy it - it is a rousing tale - and keep the PC-nonsense out of it. The bad guys lose in the end while the best man is recognized for his virtues - you don't even get that it in real life.


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