Of course, I am referring to Danny Dravot and Peachy Carnehan, the two former Sergeants of Her Majesty’s Fore and Fit, who set out to rule Kafiristan, and in the process become the richest men in the Empire.
Among the treasure trove of goodies from Moe Delaun that I referred to in a previous post was the magnificent epic film The Man Who Would be King, the John Huston-directed adaptation of the Kipling tale. The spectacular cinematography and beautiful (and authentic!) Edith Head costumes add to a brilliant performance by Michael Caine (Peachy) and Sean Connery (Danny), and an equally brilliant portrayal of Kipling himself by Christopher Plummer. Saeed Jaffrey plays a long-lost Gurkha trooper, the lone survivor of a survey expedition killed in an avalanche some years before.
The Man Who Would be King was the first offering last evening in the new DVD player. I last saw this movie some 35 years ago on network television, when, as a callow youth I knew Kipling only for Just So Stories, and The Jungle Book, and Rikki Tikki Tavi. But the film stayed with me, and very much was a factor in my adult appreciation of the brilliant work of that man. And last evening, I enjoyed the movie immensely, once again.
While very much faithful to the original Kipling short story, The Man Who Would Be King has a few minor changes from the written tale. All in all, though, I imagine Brother Kipling would be most pleased at the results of Huston’s direction and the performances of the cast.
If you have never seen it, or it has been a number of years, The Man Who Would Be King is must viewing. A poignant epic, with touches of charm and humor, and a revealing vision of the Empire of Victorian Britain.
The Son of God goes forth to war,
a kingly crown to gain;
his blood red banner streams afar:
who follows in his train?
Who best can drink his cup of woe,
triumphant over pain,
who patient bears his cross below,
he follows in his train.
Thanks again, Moe!!
And a wonderful insight from Billy Fish!