The Man Who Would Be King

1975 adventure

Rating: 18/20

Plot: Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnehan, two big-balled former British soldiers dicking around in India, decide to cross dangerous Afganistan (where the Taliban hide in caves) to reach Kafiristan, a heathen land where they plan on becoming kings. They teach villagers to use some guns they brought along, and after Daniel is struck with an arrow during battle but does not bleed, the Kafiritanians decide that he is the son of Alexander the Great.

God's holy trousers, what a fantastic film this is! Connery and Caine have great chemistry in what's essentially a buddy/road movie. The dialogue's fresh and witty and enriches the adventure yarn. This isn't exactly a comedy, but there are a lot of times where you get a whiff of a controlled Monty Python with the two leads like a mature Abbott and Costello type comedy team. The greatness with The Man Who Would Be King is that it spits in the eyes of tradition, genre-crossing like a She-Devil in plaid pants, unhinged and groovy and barely holding together with absurd poetics and half-assed histories. Snake charmers, dudes with insects on their faces, dope smokers, holy men, and filthy beggars line streets pre-credits, splashes of brown and more brown and crazy ethnic musics and an antsy camera helping them shiver on the screen. It paints an exotic picture right off the bat. John Huston found some nice places for this story to sit, and the shots of snow-covered mountains, desert battlefields, bottomless chasms, and towering temples help give it all a unique personality. And so many extras! There are very few times when the screen isn't stuffed corner to corner with stuff to look at. The Man Who Would Be King grabs your ears and eyes, tickles the pickle, mesmerizes. This is the type of movie you want to consume entirely, absorb. Costume design, a great score, cinematography. Yeah, you can chew and chew on this one. It's a lot of fun, but there's a poignancy just below the surface of the action and humor. Great stuff.

Note: Reportedly, this is Ass Masterson's second favorite movie. (Wikipedia)


l@rstonovich said...

I followed some friends to a revival screening of this over a decade ago knowing nothing about it and it blew my mind ... it was also around this time I realized a ton of my favorite old movies were John Huston's. Superb. Was this the first time you saw it? God, I hate to be on Ass Masterson's side, makes me feel greasier than usual.

cory said...

I need to see this again since I don't remember a lot beyond the mentioned chemistry and poignant ending. A 16 from memory, but I'll check it out again, soon.

Shane said...

Cory, you better watch it again and rate it a little higher or you'll wind up on Ass Masterson's list.

Larst, as long as you don't like Ass's favorite movie ('Glitter'), you probably won't reach maximum greasiness.