The Man Who Would Be King

  • Directors: John Huston
  • Producers: John Foreman
  • Writers: Rudyard Kipling, John Huston, Gladys Hill
  • Genres: Action, Adventure
  • Actors: Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer, Saeed Jaffrey

While working as a correspondent at the offices of the Northern Star newspaper, Kipling (Christopher Plummer) is approached by a ragged, seemingly crazed derelict, who reveals himself to be his old acquaintance Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine). Peachy tells Kipling the story of how he and his comrade-in-arms Danny Dravot (Sean Connery) traveled to remote Kafiristan (in modern-day Afghanistan), became gods, and ultimately lost everything.

A few years earlier, the pair of rogues had met Kipling at his office. After signing a contract pledging mutual loyalty and forswearing drink and women until they achieved their grandiose aims, Peachy and Danny set off on an epic overland journey north beyond the Khyber Pass, “travelling by night and avoiding villages”, fighting off bandits, blizzards and avalanches, into the unknown land of Kafiristan (literally “Land of the (Non-Muslim) Infidels”).

They chance upon a Gurkha soldier who goes by the name Billy Fish (Saeed Jaffrey), the sole survivor of a mapping expedition several years before. Billy speaks English as well as the local tongue, and it is he, acting as translator and interpreter of the customs and manners, who smooths the path of Peachy and Danny as they begin their rise, first offering their services as military advisors, trainers, and war leaders to the chief of a much-raided village.

The angry natives pursue him and Peachy. Billy tries to buy time by courageously charging the mob singlehandedly, but the pair are soon captured. Danny is forced to walk to the middle of a rope bridge over a deep gorge; he apologises to Peachy before the ropes are cut. Peachy is crucified between two pine trees, but is cut down the next day when he miraculously survives the ordeal. Eventually, he escapes, though his mind has become unhinged by his sufferings. As Peachy finishes his story, he presents Kipling with Danny’s head, still wearing its crown, thereby proving the tale is true.

Gunga Din

  • Directors: George Stevens
  • Producers: George Stevens
  • Writers: Rudyard Kipling, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Joel Sayre, Fred Guiol
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, War
  • Actors: Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Eduardo Ciannelli, Sam Jaffe, Joan Fontaine

On the Northwest Frontier of colonial India, circa 1880, contact has been lost with a British outpost at Tantrapur in the midst of a telegraph message. Colonel Weed (Montagu Love) dispatches a small detachment of British Indian Army troops to investigate, led by three sergeants of the Royal Engineers, MacChesney (Victor McLaglen), Cutter (Cary Grant), and Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), long-time friends and veteran campaigners. Although they are a disciplinary headache for their colonel, they are the right men to send on a dangerous mission. Accompanying the detail is a regimental bhisti (water-bearer), Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe), who longs to throw off his lowly status and become a soldier of the Queen.

They find Tantrapur apparently deserted and set about repairing the telegraph. However, they are soon surrounded by hostile natives. The troops fight their way out. Colonel Weed and Major Mitchell (Lumsden Hare) identify an enemy weapon brought back as belonging to the Thuggee, a murderous cult that had been suppressed for many years.

Ballantine is due to leave the army in a few days to wed Emmy Stebbins (Joan Fontaine) and go into the tea business, a combined calamity that MacChesney and Cutter consider worse than death. Meanwhile, Gunga Din tells Cutter of a temple he has found, one made of gold. Cutter is determined to make his fortune, but MacChesney will have none of it and has Cutter put in the stockade to prevent his desertion. That night, Cutter escapes with Din’s help and goes to the temple, which is all that Din had claimed. Unfortunately, they discover that it belongs to the Thugs when the owners return. Cutter creates a distraction and allows himself to be captured so that Din can slip away and sound the warning.

When the regiment comes to the rescue, the guru boasts that they are marching into the trap he has set, with the three sergeants as bait. He orders his men to take their positions, but when he sees that they are unwilling to leave him in enemy hands, he leaps to his death in a pit full of cobras to remove that obstacle. Thugs then climb the temple and overwhelm the soldiers, shoot and bayonet Cutter. Gunga Din is also bayoneted, but manages with the last of his strength to climb to the top of the gold dome of the temple and sounds the alarm with the bugle. He is then shot dead, but the British force is alerted and defeats the Thuggee forces. At Din’s funeral pyre, the colonel formally inducts Gunga Din as a British soldier and reads the last lines of the Kipling poem over the body:

The Jungle Book

  • Directors: Wolfgang Reitherman
  • Producers: Walt Disney
  • Writers: Rudyard Kipling, Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Ken Anderson, Vance Gerry, Bill Peet
  • Genres: Animation, Adventure, Family, Musical
  • Actors: Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, Bruce Reitherman, George Sanders, Sterling Holloway, Louis Prima

Mowgli (Bruce Reitherman) is found in a basket as a baby in the deep jungles of Madhya Pradesh, India. In the Disney movie, there is no mention of what happened to his parents or how he came to be there, but the basket was in half a boat in the middle of a river; so it is most likely that his parents were washed downstream and drowned. Bagheera (Sebastian Cabot), the panther who discovers the boy, promptly takes him to a wolf who has just had cubs. She raises him along with her own cubs and Mowgli soon becomes well acquainted to jungle life.

Mowgli is shown ten years later, visiting the wolves and getting his face licked eagerly when he arrives. That night, when the wolf tribe learns that Shere Khan (George Sanders), a man-eating tiger, has returned to the jungle, they realize that Mowgli must be taken to the man village, to protect him and those around him. Bagheera volunteers to escort him back. They leave that very night, but since Mowgli is determined to stay in the jungle things go a little astray. First Kaa (Sterling Holloway), the hungry Indian Python, hypnotizes Mowgli into a deep and peaceful sleep, traps him tightly in his coils and tries to devour him, but comically fails. The next morning, Mowgli tries to join the elephant patrol led by Hathi (J. Pat O’Malley). After that Mowgli and Bagheera get in an argument and then Mowgli runs away from Bagheera. Mowgli soon meets up with the fun-loving bear Baloo (Phil Harris), who shows Mowgli the fun of having a care-free life and promises not to take him to the man village.

After noticing the boy, she “accidentally” drops her water pot, and Mowgli retrieves it for her and follows her into the man village. After Mowgli chooses to stay in the man village, Baloo and Bagheera decide to head home while singing a reprise of “The Bare Necessities”.