Thursday, December 31, 2015

“The Man Who Would be King” Could Have Been a 50s’ Classic

It is surprising how many times “The Man Who Would Be King”, a 1975 movie classic, “almost” did NOT get made. It is a late career classic for director, John Huston, who had been trying since the 50s' to get it done, but things like his hand picked stars, Bogart and Gable, dying before the project could get going. Then other complications including the challenge of financing kept it on the shelf.  It is fortunate for moviegoers that he persisted, because it is a great movie, with a strong story line and wonderful cast of actors. “The Man Who Would be King” will be Shown by Jack Nachbar at The Edge Center in Bigfork on January 14th at 6:30PM free of charge. The movie will be accompanied by Jack’s presentation providing a better understanding of the film at the time period of the picture.

The movie, based on Rudyard Kipling's 1888 novella, is about two adventurous British soldiers who left military service to find adventure, and eventually ended up in Kafiristan a remote part Afghanistan. For John Houston to work so many years to get this film done, it must have been very special to him. He knew a good story and this is exactly what the movie gives you. It is a "rip roaring" adventure in a part of the world, at that time, never having seen a white man since Alexander the Great. Starring Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Saeed Jaffrey, and Christopher Plummer who acts as Kipling the anonymous narrator of the movie. The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards, won a Golden Globe for best original score, and a BAFTA Award. Reference:

Born John Marcellus Huston (1906 – 1987) John was an actor and screen writer. Huston, however, is best known as a film director. He actually wrote the screenplays for some 37 films and many are considered as classics. With an artist’s touch and sense of beauty based on his early work as a painter, he was able to “sense” the greatness of a film before it was made. He had a 46-year career during which he received 15 Oscar nominations winning twice. Often his movies depicted the hero on a quest towards greatness, and often those stories came from classic literature. Reference: 

Sir Thomas Sean Connery  (August 1930) will forever be known for his James Bond Roles, but he did many other wonderful works that will remain an important part of film history. His part in “The Man Who Would Be King” is the primary starring role. Both he and Caine may be English Knights, but in this movie, Connery takes the lead. During Sean’s career he won an academy award, two BAFTA Awards and three Golden Globe Awards. He was Knighted by Elizabeth II in 2000 and received the Kennedy Center Honors in the US. None of this has anything to do with this film, but you need to keep mind the quality of this actor’s work and professional reputation as background. Sean has played so many epic characters and made so many common ones look epic it is hard to find ones in between. Reference:

After some time shooting this movie, both Micheal and Sean were concerned that there was no feedback from Houston about their performance, so “…Caine approached Huston and asked if anything was wrong and if he was happy with their performances? Huston replied: " You're getting paid a lot of money to do this Micheal, I think you should do it by yourself". Reference:

Sir Michael Caine, born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite; (March 1933), is the other Knighted actor in this movie. He is a British film superstar with a pronounced English accent. He has appeared in over 115 films. Like Connery, you can list the dozens of great movies films that Caine has been in. So why this movie? I think he got the role because of his credentials and English accent. The two actors played their parts wonderfully. There were other actors considered for the role, of course, but the team of Connery and Caine really fit well with the story. In his career, he was nominated for six Oscars and won two (not for this movie). He earned two BAFTA awards and a Golden Globe Award for best actor in his career. Caine is one of only two actors nominated for an Academy Award for acting in every decade from the 1960s to 2000s. His Knighthood came in 2000 from Elizabeth II.

One character in the movie was his first ever acting role. It was Karroom Ben Bouih, who played the high priest Kafu-Selim. He was 103 years old. It is said that when he saw some of the footage, he declared that now he would live on forever. Housten found hm guarding an Olive grove at night one evening and thought he would be perfect for the part. After a few days of work, Houston noticed that Karroom was falling asleep during work. It turned out Karrom was still working the night job. Houston told him he no longer needed a second job and his pay would be enough for his needs. Reference:

Rotten Tomatoes gives this movie a very high rating of 96%. A review of the movie in the New York York Times by Vincent Canby says…"The Man Who Would Be King" manages to be great fun in itself while being most faithful to Kipling, whose story, written in the 1890's, is a kind of raffish metaphor for the British colonial experience that did not end for another half century.” Reference: and

Come and see what this reviewer is praising so highly on the “Big Screen ” of the Edge Center in Bigfork. You can see this movie free of charge.  Some appropriate snacks will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist, Lynn.  Place: The Edge Center for the Arts, Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday January 14th at 6:30PM. It will be worth going out in the cold to a nice warm theater.

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