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Gunga Din (1939)

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


George Stevens


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





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


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


RKO RADIO'S TOWERING SHOW OF SHOWS! (original print ad - all caps) See more »


Adventure | Comedy | War


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017) was influenced by Gunga Din (1939), along with Sahara (1943), The 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 »


Singing and playing music loudly while marching into an ambush might 'boost morale'--but it's tactically arrogant and stupid to alert your enemy early of your approach. The column would have been wiped out, except for Din's last-second warning to go into 'battle formation'. See more »


Sgt. Thomas 'Tommy' Ballantine: The trouble is you don't want a man for a husband! You want a coward who will run out on his friends! Well, thats not me, never was, and never will be. I don't care how much I love you! And I do very much. I'm a soldi... I mean I'm a man first!
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

Cut to 96 minutes for a theatrical re-issue; for years this was the only version available for viewing until the film was archivally restored. See more »


Referenced in Lotsa Luck!: The Shrink (1973) See more »


Blue Bonnets Over the Border
See more »

User Reviews

Rudyard Kipling's poem brought to life in a powerful, strikingly meaningful way...
28 August 1999 | by polygeneSee all my reviews

This old film just has some important elements the bulk of current films seem to lack: strength of character, genuine heroism and an understanding of what true altruism and sacrifice mean. And Sam Jaffe, a terrific (now-unfortunately-deceased) character actor breaks the viewer's heart as the "regimental bhisti, Gunga Din," who takes constant abuse and gives his all, including his life, to carry water to the men of the Queen's regiment even in the thick of battle.

Funny, I don't remember it as a comedy, though I think there may have been some spots of humor in it, but then, I was rather young the last time I saw it on the Late, Late Show... too many years ago to even want to think about.

It's a wonderful movie and I hope the animated version, coming out next year, does the poem and story the same good service the 1939 film managed to do.

Highly recommended.

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Release Date:

17 February 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Gunga Din See more »


Box Office


$1,910,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


| (reissue)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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