7.9/10
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179 user 49 critic

The Man Who Would Be King (1975)

Two British former soldiers decide to set themselves up as kings in Kafiristan, a land where no white man has set foot since Alexander the Great.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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ON DISC
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
... Daniel Dravot
... Peachy Carnehan
... Rudyard Kipling
... Billy Fish
Doghmi Larbi ... Ootah
Jack May ... District Commissioner
Karroom Ben Bouih ... Kafu Selim
Mohammad Shamsi ... Babu
... Ghulam
Paul Antrim ... Mulvaney
Graham Acres ... Officer
The Blue Dancers of Goulamine ... Dancers
... Roxanne
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Storyline

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 <bole@life.bio.sunysb.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Adventure in all its glory! See more »

Genres:

Adventure

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

18 December 1975 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$13,200,000, 31 December 1975
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer both played Sherlock Holmes; Caine for Without a Clue (1988) and Plummer for Murder by Decree (1979). See more »

Goofs

The Kafiristanis worship idols and yet the prayers/religious chants they utter are standard Muslim prayers/religious chants. They clearly mention the name of Allah several times. Islam is a strictly monotheistic religion, being against the worship of idols. See more »

Quotes

Billy Fish: I oft times tell Ootah about Englishmens. How they give names to dogs and take off hats to womans, and march into battle, left - right, left -right with rifles on their shoulders.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Adventure! Excitement! Exotic Locales! You too can experience these in the Queen's Army!
29 November 2004 | by 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.


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