7.8/10
44,805
199 user 42 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.

Director:

John Huston

Writers:

John Huston (screenplay), Gladys Hill (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
2,442 ( 1,187)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Sean Connery ... Daniel Dravot
Michael Caine ... Peachy Carnehan
Christopher Plummer ... Rudyard Kipling
Saeed Jaffrey ... Billy Fish
Larbi Doghmi Larbi Doghmi ... Ootah (as Doghmi Larbi)
Jack May Jack May ... District Commissioner
Karroom Ben Bouih Karroom Ben Bouih ... Kafu Selim
Mohammad Shamsi Mohammad Shamsi ... Babu
Albert Moses ... Ghulam
Paul Antrim Paul Antrim ... Mulvaney
Graham Acres Graham Acres ... Officer
The Blue Dancers of Goulamine The Blue Dancers of Goulamine ... Dancers
Shakira Caine ... 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:

Long live adventure... and adventurers! See more »

Genres:

Adventure | History | War

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The words which Kipling pens in the opening scene are the opening lines to an actual Rudyard Kipling poem, "The Ballad of Boh da Thone". The poem contains several elements which feature in the movie. See more »

Goofs

When Peachy and Danny travel with the caravan into the Khyber Pass, all of the camels are Arabian (aka dromedaries), rather than Asian (Bactrian) beasts. This is not an error. Despite their names, both species are present and available in their domestic form in eastern Afghanistan, where the Khyber Pass is, and have been for centuries before the events of the movie take place. See more »

Quotes

Peachy Carnehan: I've come back. Give me a drink, Brother Kipling. Don't you know me?
Rudyard Kipling: No. I don't know you. Who are you? What can I do for you?
Peachy Carnehan: I told you; give me a drink. It was all settled right here in this office. Remember? Danny and Me signed a contract, and you witnessed it. You stood over there. I stood there, and Daniel stood here. Remember?
Rudyard Kipling: Carnehan!
Peachy Carnehan: Peachy Toliver Carnehan.
Peachy Carnehan: Of course.
Peachy Carnehan: Keep looking at me. It helps to keep my soul from flying off.
Rudyard Kipling: Carnehan.
Peachy Carnehan: The same - and not the same, who sat besides you in ...
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Connections

Referenced in Three Kings (1999) See more »

User Reviews

A work of genius
7 June 2003 | by j_loomeSee all my reviews

Outside of the obvious reflections on the immoral and absurdly hypocritical nature of early British colonialism, it's just a damn entertaining movie.

But you have to think that Rudyard Kipling, who grew up under British rule in India, was certainly trying to shake some sensibilities when he first wrote the story as part of an 1890 package called The Man Who Would Be King and Other Stories, nearly a century before it was made into a film and during an era when the British Empire was still very much a reality.

From the perceptive realization that even the staunchly important Masonic Lodge -- which had infilitrated every aspect of Britain's upper classes -- could be easily corrupted; to the arrogance as Sean Connery's character Daniel Dravot, who elevates what he sees as mere social superiority into a god-like status; to the inevitable humbling of both men at the hands of the 'savages' they profess to rule, the film is ultimately about the humility all men should exhude, particularly in the face of the unfamiliar.

Kipling's tale also preached tolerance, though you might not consider that to be the case based on the film's climax: consider that if Daniel and Peachy had shown an iota of respect for the religion that they instead decided to fleece, how differently the tale might have played out.

The film owes much of its success to the chemistry between Caine and Connery, who regardless of later plaudits, gave the finest performances of their careers. Connery is particularly nuanced, with Daniel Dravot starting the tale as a somewhat lackwitted second fiddle to the scheming Peachy but later seeing his limited vision help him surpass his friend in terms of villainy with an equally heavy price. Caine plays, to some degree or another, the same charming British sheyster/teddy boy he popularized in the Harry Palmer films. But without a backdrop of similarly disaffected cockney bad guys, it's stunningly effective.

John Huston's direction is among the best of his career, and in terms of his ability to use both sprawling vistas and tight, almost claustrophobic photography, owes a nod to his earlier work, including The African Queen, Night of the Iguana and the Treasure of the Sierra Madre. As examples, witness the zenith of Peachy and Daniel's hazardous trek through the mountains played out in full panoramic detail, only to be followed 90 minutes later by the tight shot of Kipling's face, the revulsion fairly etched into every crease as we reach the climax.

But perhaps the true hero of this film was Boaty Boatright, who also cast Connery's classic "The Wind and The Lion." He managed to take some of the most strident, forceful personalities in the film industries, threw them together and came up with a film about humility. Magic.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Arabic | Urdu

Release Date:

19 December 1975 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King See more »

Filming Locations:

Todgha Gorge, Morocco See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$12,678
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo

Color:

Color (Technicolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39:1
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