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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 roar!...Three fighting, loving, swaggering sons of the British Battalions! 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)
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

"Star wars episode VIII: The last Jedi" was influenced by Gunga Din (1939),along with Sahara (1943),Bridge On The River Kwai (1957),Seven Samurai (1954),Twelve O'Clock High (1949),To Catch A Thief (1955),Three Outlaw Samurai (1964) and Letter Never Sent (1960), See more »

Goofs

When Din and Cutter first see the temple, it is in full sun. The next shot shows only the top of the temple in sun with dark shadows hiding the lower levels. See more »

Quotes

Guru: Oh Thugs lift up your faces to the light that shines from Kali's throne.
Thuggees: Kali.
Guru: Oh brothers of Thuggee we are defenders of this earth. An immense hand is against us. We have been kicked, spat upon and driven to the hills like wild pigs. My father was a thug and he was hanged. His father was blown from the cannon's mouth. And what of your kinsmen, your fathers and their fathers and their father's fathers before them? Oh my brothers a new day is at hand. I have read the omens and they are good. ...
[...]
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

German theatrical version was cut by approx. 12 minutes. This version was later shown on TV but never released on any home media format. Only in 2018 the film was released on DVD, with approx. 4 minutes restored. See more »

Connections

Referenced in M*A*S*H: A War for All Seasons (1980) 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

Politically incorrect only to the historically ignorant
12 May 2003 | by hundd44See 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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