7.3/10
10,704
111 user 54 critic

Gunga Din (1939)

Approved | | Adventure, Comedy, War | 17 February 1939 (USA)
Trailer
2:12 | Trailer
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 »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

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
Learn more

More Like This 

Certificate: Passed Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

At a remote South American trading port, the manager of an air freight company is forced to risk his pilots' lives in order to win an important contract.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth
Topper (1937)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A fun-loving couple, finding that they died and are now ghosts, decide to shake up the stuffy lifestyle of a friend of theirs.

Director: Norman Z. McLeod
Stars: Cary Grant, Constance Bennett, Roland Young
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An escaped prisoner and a stuffy law professor vie for the hand of a spirited schoolteacher.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Ronald Colman
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Missing for seven years and presumed dead, a woman returns home on the day of her husband's second marriage.

Director: Garson Kanin
Stars: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Randolph Scott
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Unfounded suspicions lead a married couple to begin divorce proceedings, whereupon they start undermining each other's attempts to find new romance.

Director: Leo McCarey
Stars: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A couple's big dreams give way to a life full of unexpected sadness and unexpected joy.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Beulah Bondi
Adventure | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In order to provide information for the first air raid over Tokyo, a U.S. submarine sneaks into Tokyo Bay and places a spy team ashore.

Director: Delmer Daves
Stars: Cary Grant, John Garfield, Alan Hale
In Name Only (1939)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After a wealthy man finds out his wife is a gold digger, he meets and falls for a widowed mother, and complications ensue.

Director: John Cromwell
Stars: Cary Grant, Carole Lombard, Kay Francis
The Sea Hawk (1940)
Action | Adventure | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Geoffrey Thorpe, a buccaneer, is hired by Queen Elizabeth I to nag the Spanish Armada. The Armada is waiting for the attack on England and Thorpe surprises them with attacks on their galleons where he shows his skills on the sword.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Brenda Marshall, Claude Rains
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The Roth family leads a quiet life in a small village in the German Alps during the early 1930s. When the Nazis come to power, the family is divided and Martin Breitner, a family friend, is caught up in the turmoil.

Director: Frank Borzage
Stars: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Robert Young
Mr. Lucky (1943)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A gambler has plans to swindle money from a charity program, but starts to have second thoughts when he falls for a rich society girl.

Director: H.C. Potter
Stars: Cary Grant, Laraine Day, Charles Bickford
High Sierra (1941)
Certificate: Passed Action | Adventure | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

After being released from prison, notorious thief Roy Earle is hired by his old boss to help a group of inexperienced criminals plan and carry out the robbery of a California resort.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Ida Lupino, Humphrey Bogart, Alan Curtis
Edit

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:

ROMANCE AND THRILLS FOR A THOUSAND MOVIES PLUNDERED FOR ONE MIGHTY SHOW! (original ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Comedy | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Inspired a comedy recording, "The Last Blast of the Blasted Bugler", by Sonny Giannotta, released on ABC Records in 1962. See more »

Goofs

During the rooftop combat at Tantrapur, as the troops run to hide behind a short structure, McChesney's revolver falls from his holster, and McLaglen evidently hears it fall, and goes back for it. There's a cut, and we next see McLaglen behind the structure with revolver in hand. In some prints, this mistake is minimized and does not show McLaglen going back to retrieve the gun. See more »

Quotes

Sgt. 'Mac' MacChesney: It just goes to show you what a piece of dry goods will do.
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 Lotsa Luck!: The Shrink (1973) See more »

Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

 
The White Man's Burden
27 June 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

For years I thought this knockabout service comedy was a product of John Ford, especially with Victor McLaglen as one of the leads. It certainly has the same rough house humor that Ford laces his films with.

To my surprise I learned it was George Stevens who actually directed it. Still I refuse to believe that this film wasn't offered to John Ford, but he was probably off in Monument Valley making Stagecoach.

Victor McLaglen along with Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., play three sergeants in the Indian Army who have a nice buddy/buddy/buddy camaraderie going. But the old gang is breaking up because Fairbanks is engaged to marry Joan Fontaine. Not if his two pals can help it, aided and abetted by regimental beastie Gunga Din as played by Sam Jaffe.

The Rudyard Kipling poem served as the inspiration for this RKO film about barracks life in the British Raj. The comic playing of the leads is so good that it does overshadow the incredibly racist message of the film. Not that the makers were racist, but this was the assumption of the British there at the time, including our leads and Gunga Din shows this most effectively.

The British took India by increments, making deals here and there with local rulers under a weak Mogul emperor who was done away with in the middle of the 19th century. They ruled very little of India outright, that would have been impossible. Their rule depended on the native troops you see here. Note that the soldiers cannot rise above the rank of corporal and Gunga Din is considerably lower in status than that.

Note here that the rebels in fact are Hindu, not Moslem. There are as many strains of that religion as there are Christian sects and this strangling cult was quite real. Of course to those being strangled they might not have the same view of them as liberators. But until India organized its independence movement, until the Congress Party came into being, these people were the voice of a free India.

But however you slice it, strangling people isn't a nice thing to do and the British had their point here also. When I watch Gunga Din, I think of Star Trek and the reason the prime directive came into being.

Cary Grant got to play his real cockney self here instead of the urbane Cary we're used to seeing. Fairbanks and McLaglen do very well with roles completely suited to their personalities.

Best acting role in the film however is Eduard Ciannelli as the guru, the head of the strangler cult. Note the fire and passion in his performance, he blows everyone else off the screen when he's on.

Favorite scene in Gunga Din is Ciannelli exhorting his troops in their mountain temple. Note how Stevens progressively darkens the background around Ciannelli until all you see are eyes and teeth like a ghoulish Halloween mask. Haunting, frightening and very effective.

It was right after the action of this film in the late nineteenth century that more and more of the British public started to question the underlying assumptions justifying the Raj. But that's the subject of Gandhi.

Gunga Din is still a great film, entertaining and funny. It should be shown with A Passage to India and Gandhi and you can chart how the Indian independence movement evolved.


16 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 111 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 February 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Gunga Din See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$1,910,000 (estimated)
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 »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.



Recently Viewed