Gunga Din (1939) (DVD)
Oscar-winner Cary Grant leads the way in this action-packed adventure about three rowdy British soldiers who defeat a murderous cult in India with help from native water boy, Gunga Din. Based on a Rudyard Kipling poem, this Hollywood classic stars Grant ("The Awful Truth," "Suspicion," "North by Northwest"), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. ("The Prisoner of Zenda," "Sinbad the Sailor"), Academy Award-winner Victor McLaglen ("She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," "Fort Apache"), Oscar-nominee Sam Jaffe ("The Asphalt Jungle") and Oscar-winner Joan Fontaine ("Rebecca," "Suspicion"). Produced and directed by 12-time Oscar-nominee George Stevens ("Shane," "Giant"). Nominated for its outstanding cinematography, "Gunga Din" features some of the greatest action scenes ever filmed. Recently selected by the prestigious American Film Institute as one of the 400 greatest American films of all time. Inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry.
This big, boisterous adventure is more inspired by than based on Rudyard Kipling's famous poem. Legendary screenwriters Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur have fashioned a rousing Hollywood movie full of high adventure, knockabout comedy, and old-fashioned male bonding. And old-fashioned it is: the trio of British officers and best friends who form the core of the film are a 19th-century three musketeers in India, threatened by the interventions of a woman who means to marry the dashing Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.). Blustery commander MacChesney (Victor McLaglen) schemes to keep Ballantine in the army while his second in command, the treasure-hunting Cutter (Cary Grant in a hopelessly mugging comic performance), continues searching for his elusive mother lode, but all their plans are thrown into chaos when the rise of the bloodthirsty Thugs threaten Britannia's soldiers. Sam Jaffe takes up the rear guard in turban, loin, and full-body make-up as the titular Gunga Din, the loyal water carrier who dreams of becoming a soldier. Bombastically chauvinist and naively imperialist, the film is bound to rub some people wrong, but Stevens creates a thrilling spectacle in the grand Hollywood mold, a handsome, exciting classic comic adventure that helped make 1939 Hollywood's grandest year. --Sean Axmaker