Traditionally it is rather difficult to find a good pair of buddies for a buddy movie. This is because almost any actor worth their buddy salt wants to be the hero. Eventually Matt Damon and Ben Affleck must go their separate ways. Sooner or later Butch and Sundance have that longing to star in their very own westerns. This was John Huston’s problem when he decided to make a movie based on the Rudyard Kipling short story The Man Who Would be King.
Most of you may know John Huston as the director of such classic films as (hang on while I go look up his filmography) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Maltese Falcon and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean. Most of his major work was done in the 40s and 50s but he actually had quite the career. Sometimes he even pretended to be other people for money. He seems like a swell chap.
And fairly good at finding material, I might add. Somehow he got a hold of the Rudyard Kipling story and insisted on making a movie from it. This was back in the Fifties and he wanted to cast Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable. However it was the Fifties, and Humphrey Bogart would die soon. If John Huston had known that, he probably would not have cast him. Then the rumor was that he tried to cast Butch and Sundance, aka Paul Newman and Robert Redford. This did not work out because both Paul and Robert were deemed too Cockney. Thus he was left with James Bond and Alfie.
The plot is adventure to the extreme. It features battles and comedy in far off places such as Kafiristan, a remote part of Afghanistan. The people of Kafiristan are pagans not yet converted to Islam and they somehow know the secrets of freemasonry. And so when Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery) appears wearing a masonic symbol, they take him for a god. (That and the fact that he appears to be pierced by an arrow, yet is unharmed). Sometime later this would also happen to C-3PO, who is also played by a Brit. Wouldn’t you know it though? The SAT vocab words rear their ugly head and our heros are brought low by something called (spoiler alert) “hubris” which is defined as over-weaning pride.
Besides the mistaken-for-a-god part, The Man Who Would be King features many touchstones of extraordinary adventure fiction: Far away places, British People, Decapitation, pith helmets, British People, Rope Bridges, far away places, Alexander the Great, British people and Shakira Caine (Michael Caine’s wife, both then and now).
Next up … Ninety-two