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Gunga Din (1939)

Approved | | Adventure, Comedy, War | 17 February 1939 (USA)
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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.

Director:

George Stevens

Writers:

Joel Sayre (screen play), Fred Guiol (screen play) | 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Cary Grant ... Cutter
Victor McLaglen ... MacChesney
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ... Ballantine
Sam Jaffe ... Gunga Din
Eduardo Ciannelli ... Guru
Joan Fontaine ... Emmy
Montagu Love ... Colonel Weed
Robert Coote ... Higginbotham
Abner Biberman ... Chota
Lumsden Hare ... Major Mitchell
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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

Taglines:

Out of the stirring glory of Kipling's India they come!...Three red-blood and gunpowder heroes...roaring for battle or ready for love! See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Comedy | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 February 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Aufstand in Sidi Hakim See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,910,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,807,000, 31 December 1939
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (reissue)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mention is made of Chandragupta Maurya as a significant Indian soldier. He founded the Maurya empire, unifying much of India and becoming its first emperor. See more »

Goofs

In the end, when they're taking Gunga Din's body away, Colonel Weed does the salute the American way (palm down). The British salute with the palm up (Sam Jeffe demonstrates it perfectly a few seconds later). See more »

Quotes

Sgt. Archibald Cutter: Now get me some tools. Something to rip these blinking bars out.
Gunga Din: Already bring all tools could find. Is this satisfactory, sahib?
[holds up a fork]
Sgt. Archibald Cutter: Look... What do you think I want to break out of - a bloomin' pudding? Now go on, get something big.
[Din returns with an elephant]
Sgt. Archibald Cutter: What are you doing, Din?
Gunga Din: The large tool you asked for, sahib.
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 »

Alternate Versions

Also shown in a computer-colorized version See more »

Connections

Referenced in Californication: Hell Bent for Leather (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Auld Lang Syne
(1788) (uncredited)
Traditional
Lyrics by Scottish poet Robert Burns
Played as part of the score at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

I'm appalled at the lack of movie history (and history in general) knowledge shown by some users of this board!!
26 December 2003 | by prudhocjSee all my reviews

Although I'm usually only mildly appalled reading through user comments on movies on imdb.com some of the comments made here about this classic movie exhibit a true nadir of ignorance of history in general and movies in particular. E.g.;

1 - I'm particularly struck by the comment - "This movie is shot on location in California because shooting in India would have been too expensive." Prior to the 1950's Hollywood movies were rarely (and I mean rarely) shot on the original location sites. The problem was not expense (although the moguls certainly were pinching the pennies), the problem was transportation! Transporting a movie production company halfway around the world would have been nearly impossible to accomplish (let alone how long it would have taken and then they would have been shooting under impossible conditions in India anyway) not to mention that WWII was on the verge of breaking out! The biggest movie of that year was shot on a set in Culver City, CA where they could easily manipulate the filming. Even if they had sent the production company to Atlanta they couldn't very well burn down Atlanta for authenticity' sake now could they? They would have had to have built a set(s) in Atlanta - why would they go all the way across the country to do that when they could do it Culver City?

2 - Several people lament that Gunga Din was not shot in color. A little movie history context here - first of all, the first full length feature film shot in color had only been done 4 years earlier, secondly three-strip technicolor was outrageously expensive in 1939 (only one other movie was shot that year in technicolor and it didn't start making back its costs until the late 1960's) and the few features shot prior to that year in color had failed miserably to make back their production costs. And finally, the studios had no faith in color (just as they had resisted "talkies" a decade earlier) - they were in business to make money, not experiment with an innovation that had not yet been accepted and proven to bring in a bigger audience. Also, there was a comment about the graininess of the B&W cinematography of GD - that's because 99% of the present day viewers are seeing multi-generation copies that have been played to death! Get a fresh, first generation copy to see the B&W shading in its true brightness, focus and clarity and that objection will go away. BTW - the colorized version of GD is abysmal - faded coloring effects and indistinct edges make it look like a sloppy water color painting!

3 - Labelling anything from the past as not being PC only shows the lack of historical context knowledge so rampant in the present day. First of all this movie was loosely based on a poem that was already 47 years old when this movie was released. If you change the politics to match the present day conception of "correctness" then you really don't have the original concept do you? Not to mention that America was a far different place racially (and socially) in 1939. There are movies being released in 2003 that will catch hell 50 years from now for their "politics" - just chalk it up to the ignorance of future generations to not recognize what the history of the times were. I do like the analysis by one writer though that far from being a reactionary screed the movie went further than the poem in emphasizing that Gunga Din was far better off in his position than he would have been otherwise. After all, he was an "untouchable", a social postion that was abused, exploited and terrorized by their fellow Indians for thousands of years. Whatever one might think of his treatment by the British it was a high step up from what he would have endured out in his own society! Which brings me to.........

4 - ..........the ridiculously misguided (and just plain wrong) observations about the Thuggees of India being "freedom fighters", this couldn't be more wrong. Several of the commentators really need to read up on Indian history - the Thuggees had been ritualistic murderers and thieves for thousands of years in India before the British ever arrived! If they had any support from various rulers of parts of India it was because those rulers either feared for their own positions or they could get the Thuggees to do their dirty work for them - for a high price of course. The Thuggees reputation for brutality, unabated crimes of the worst kind and general, overall lack of human attributes make most other singlemindedly evil groups throughout history (even in the present day) look like amateurs! The reason they fought the British so vociferously was that the British recognized this and fought to suppress them - I seriously doubt that many Indians lamented that suppression. And to the person who equated the Thuggees with French Resistance fighters killing "collaborators" - where did you get such a preposterous idea? Do you know anything at all about the history of the Indian sub-continent?

Let me also point out here that it is the British who are the infidels not the "natives", just another example of how mixed up one can be about who is who and understanding what history and meaning really are.

I especially love the reviewers who spend their time comparing this to another movie that they like better in order to dis this one - so they review the other movie instead. Why bother, movies stand on their own, you either like them or you don't, go watch the other one you like instead.

5 - Now, everyone is entitled to their opinion, which I certainly support, as to whether this is a "good" or a "bad" movie (opinions are like.......well, you know) but fergawdsakes base that opinion on an informed knowledge of the times, the historical context of the work and the realization that movies are just movies - they aren't "real" and they certainly make up whatever "truth" and "facts" they see fit!

My opinion? This is one of the great "entertainment" movies ever made - the reason to go to the movies I thought? It has everything - a good script, a good story, epic sweep, fantastic acting, inter-character chemistry, charisma, pacing and coherency. How many movies can you say that about? And kudos to those who see this movie for what it is, not what they want it to be!


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