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The Man Who Would Be King (1975)

PG  |   |  Adventure  |  17 December 1975 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 34,366 users  
Reviews: 158 user | 46 critic

Two British soldiers in India decide to resign from the Army and set themselves up as deities in Kafiristan--a land where no white man has set foot since Alexander.



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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Doghmi Larbi ...
Jack May ...
District Commissioner
Karroom Ben Bouih ...
Kafu Selim
Mohammad Shamsi ...
Paul Antrim ...
Graham Acres ...
The Blue Dancers of Goulamine ...
Shakira Caine ...


This adaptation of the famous short story by Rudyard Kipling tells the story of Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnahan, two ex-soldiers in India when it was under British rule. They decide that the country is too small for them, so they head off to Kafiristan in order to become Kings in their own right. Kipling is seen as a character that was there at the beginning, and at the end of this glorious tale. Written by Greg Bole <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

india | king | ex soldier | rifle | fall | See All (161) »


Long live adventure... and adventurers! See more »




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

17 December 1975 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The scene where Danny meets Roxanne is shot at the kasbah of Ait Benhaddou, just north of the southern Moroccan city of Ouarzazate. This site was used in Gladiator (2000) as the North-African arena where Maximus first fights. Ouarzazate is known as "Morocco's Hollywood" since many international productions - such as Kingdom of Heaven (2005) and The Hills Have Eyes (2006) - were shot in the area. See more »


When Daniel prevents Ootah from executing the leaders of the first battle, Daniel slaps Ootah's sword hand with his trophy arrow. The arrow snaps, yet is whole in the very next scene. See more »


[speaking to Billy Fish in Kafiri]
Billy Fish: Ootah say take your pick. He have twenty three daughters.
Danny: Those are his daughters? Why the dirty old beggar!
Peachy Carnehan: Now, now Danny. Different countries, different ways. He's only being hospitable according to his lights. Billy, tell him one's as pretty as the next and we cannot choose.
[Billy translates; Ootah replies in Kafiri]
Billy Fish: Ootah say he also have twenty sons if you be liking boys.
Peachy Carnehan: [angrily] Tell him he makes my gorge rise; tell him!
Danny: Now Peachy, different countries,...
See more »


Referenced in Supernatural: The Man Who Would Be King (2011) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Adventure! Excitement! Exotic Locales! You too can experience these in the Queen's Army!
29 November 2004 | by (somerville, ma) – See all my reviews

My friend threw this DVD at my head one night while we were arguing about film. I said all adventure movies left me feeling a little hollow

  • adventure movies tended to abandon story, really, in favor of plot

(important distinction: stories are interesting, plots boring; consequently a film with a story to tell is better than a movie with a plot to move forward). I think he hurled the disc at me out of pure frustration with my point of view. In doing so, he also won the argument.

The Man Who Would Be King is the single greatest adventure film I've ever seen. It's a story - It's a tale - It's not a series of plot developments (to me, to go further with this plot/story dichotomy, a plot is mechanical (and sometimes that machine is well-oiled) while a story is organic and feels less contrived (though the story, as organic matter sometimes is, can be rotten)). It's a very good story at that. The Man Who Would Be King (I believe as a result of its derivation from Kipling) has a depth and development of character that is foreign to most adventure tales. Few films are as rousing as this and few films that are this rousing have nearly as much to say about mankind.

John Huston, of course, is a master of instilling greatness into traditionally tedious genres. He transformed the mystery, the western, the swashbuckler. Why not the adventure story too? As evidenced in The Maltese Falcon and Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Huston can take what might wind up a plot and transform it into a story. He understands that characters - human, conflicted, devious characters - are essential to creating genre pictures that transcend their genre. Without Huston, this film would have undoubtedly faltered; his steady and determined hand guides this film from the hazards of superficiality without sacrificing entertainment and adventure.

He does not create a great film single-handedly though, as Connery and Caine, who both give tremendous performances, bestow upon Peachy and Daniel immense likability despite their scoundrel airs. Caine proves again why he may be the greatest living British actor and Connery reminds us that there's more to him than 007.

As I said, this is one of the greatest adventure tales brought to the screen. Though some may disagree, in particular my friend who threw the DVD at my head, it's better than any of the late 30s swashbucklers and better than most shoot-em-ups made since.

40 of 56 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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