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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Man Who Would Be King
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127 of 131 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 1999
This is, of course, a great film, with every aspect of what makes a great film fully exploited. But I did discover something strange on the DVD - there is an entire scene missing. After Sean Connery falls from the bridge, instead of the process shot that shows him falling in slow-motion and the crown falling from his head (which is in every version of the film I've ever seen) the scene dissolves to Christopher Plummer listening to the final words of Michael Caine's narration. What happened to the scene?? Why would it have been removed?? My only other quibble about the DVD is that the sound is not very full. It is an early release DVD so in subsequent releases they might address that issue, but PUT BACK THE MISSING SCENE!
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163 of 178 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2003
He began with 'The Maltese Falcon' which one must admit is not too bad for a first film, don't you think?
Then for years he wanted to bring this adventure story by Kipling to the screen. How many years? Well, originally he had Bogie and Gable in mind for the leads, you do the math.
Fortunately for us, he eventually got the green light for his project.
He then found Peachy and Danny in Michael Caine and Sean Connery, movie stars who are also great actors-- of which there ain't many, folks---and who are perfectly cast in the roles.
Moreover, Caine and Connery had been friends for a long time and this undoubtedly helped bring to life the camaraderie between the misfit heroes.
It is the late 19th century and Danny and Peachy, formerly sergeants in Her Majesty's Army, find themselves stranded and penniless in India. Their ungrateful country has no further use for them, although their officers once called them heroes "We fought our way up the pass yard by bloody yard."
Now, bureocrats are running the show "with long skinny noses for looking down on you" and Danny and Peachy are considered 'undesirables'.
So they are faced with three choices: Go back to England and take jobs as a porters or something equally lower class and menial, stay in India and continue to live more or less as petty criminals, or. . .
Well, let's not give the plot away. Suffice it to say that when a reasonable Kipling (wonderfully played by Christopher Plummer) tries to dissuade them from their insane scheme, on the grounds that the odds against them are truly suicidal, Peachy dismisses his concerns with "Well, if a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
--The Greek in question being Alexander the Great--
And yes, women as well as men will enjoy this great film. It's a not a "buddy movie", it's a classic.
Thank you, John Huston.
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128 of 144 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2006
This was one of my favorites, and a "must have" in my DVD library. The story is still great,and the dialog between "Peachy" and "Daniel" is still among my favorites still.

But the DVD was dissappointing. The movie is split on two sides, and has to be flipped to view the remainder of the film.The DVD only has Dolby 1.0 Sound (Digital but MONO)and apparently very weak in the mix. Overall a better picture than my old worn VHS, but very weak audio overall.

The menu's and commentary are hard to read, and there were points in the movie where the transfer to DVD looked "jumpy".

More than disappointing presentation overall.

This deserves a "director's cut", or an audio remix to serve those of us who will cherish whatever copy we have, forever.
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62 of 70 people found the following review helpful
This film has met all the prerequistes necessary for producing a profound and rewarding entertainment experience. One of the greatest directors of all-time (John Huston), an all-star cast: Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer and Saeed jaffrey, and an incredibly original storyline incorporating ancient Masonic mysteries, exotic locations and crisp, witty dialogue. This is a story I wish I had written! Even more delightful, it meets all expectations!

Rudyard Kipling (Plummer) finds an unexpected guest awaiting his presence in his darkened study one night. Without proper introductions the hooded intruder begins to share with Kipling a fantastic tale of adventure and discovery from a faraway land that many thought only existed in myth and legend. The study of the famous writer soon disappears as we are taken along with the mysterious narrator on a fantastic journey to a foreign land.

We are now introduced to Daniel Dravot (Connery) and Peachy Carnehan (Caine), two ex-British soldiers and Masonic brothers turn fortune hunters. Seeking fame and fortune they are about to undertake the adventure of a lifetime. Their destination, the Far East in search of the legendary lost treasure of Alexander the Great.

And what an adventure it is! As Daniel and Peachy work their way across the vast Indian landscape towards the remote region of Kafiristan they encounter the usual severe natural hardships and hostile inhabitants as you might expect. However it's the discovery of an archaic religious cult that happens to share many of the same symbols and beliefs found in their own Masonic brotherhood that really makes them begin to wonder. As they unravel the secret origin of this esoteric connection they are faced with the truth behind a two thousand year old secret concerning Alexander the Great and his mythical lost treasure.

Great film from '75. It may seem a little dated to young viewers, but give it a chance and you won't regret it! Great supporting performance from Saeed Jaffrey ( one of the greatest character actors of all time) the who plays their native guide Billy Fish, along with a brief and rare appearance by the lovely Shakira Caine as Roxanne.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2000
This movie is an unsurpassed, old-fashioned adventure tale about friendship, and tragic, over-reaching ambition. As an adventure, it far exceeds the wildly more popular but childish Indiana Jones series.
This movie follows the adventure of Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnahan, two rakish ne'er-do-wells in the British Army in India. They leave the service, and, alone, they pack guns and supplies and head north to Kafiristan, a distant and mysterious land they've only heard tales about, to become Kings, and plunder the kingdom.
When they arrive, they pit warring communities against each other. During battle, Connery's character is mistaken for a god when he is shot (in his leather bandolier), and doesn't bleed. As a result, he is made King. He is brought to the Holy City, where the holy men mistake him for "Son of Sekander," that is, the Son of Alexander The Great. They prostrate themselves before him, and give him access to Alexander's treasure, which they have guarded for centuries.
Instead of taking the money and running, however, Connery gets big-headed, gets to liking the role of King, and wants to stay and administer his kingdom, which he does, and does well, it seems.
As you would expect, that's not the end of the story...but I don't want to give any more away.
This movie is also humorous. It certainly isn't a comedy, but the heroes joke with one another, and the humor arises from their relationship, their fondness for one another, not from improbably comic situations.
This is a grand movie that treats grand themes, and it is worth seeing over and over again. I can't recommend it enough.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2000
This movie is head and shoulders above most movies in this genre. "The man who would be king" is dead on target with its ability to thrill while telling Kipling's story of two British soldiers seeking more than their fair share of fame and fortune in the remote country of Kafiristan in the late 1880's. Our two heroes Danny Dravot (Connery) and Peachy Carnehan (Caine), outline a bold and seemingly unthinkable plan. They are to travel, unguided, through more than a hundred miles of hostile, remote territories, and, after training the local inhabitants in modern warfare and making their leader king of all he surveys, will "...subvert that king, and loot the kingdom four ways from Sunday". There are many twists of fate along the way, yet one is struck at how both plausible, and bold, the twists are. There's a keen sense of satire, particularly in Kipling's story, which is preserved in the film as a whole.

John Houston does a remarkable job of telling so much of the story visually and with a fine sense of style. When seen in the videotape (pan and scan) version, it loses much of the film's scope and impact, and the otherwise fluid story-telling is hampered.

BLU-RAY UPDATE: twenty and six bucks?? Well, it maybe more expensive than a lot of blu-rays, but, apart from that...is this version even bloody well worth it? I think the answer has to be yes, and if you're looking for the best-looking and best-sounding edition of it in existence, then make it a resounding yes! And, it's OK, now you can finally ditch your flipper DVD's, everybody! Overall, this Blu-ray transfer is excellent - in fact, the spectacle, and therefore a lot of the depth of its storytelling, of it all has been restored as never before - colors pop, as do the vistas of the locales. Resolution and depth are quite good, excellent as well, I would say.

The 'missing scene' of Danny free-falling down the ravine (against a blue-screen, wearing his crown and which I saw in the theater) is indeed missing on this issue. Although some may be pained to learn this, I myself am left with no real objections - particularly, since it seems that Peachy's recounting of events in the narration was not interfered with and remains intact - at least everything of what I can recall of it. The scene works splendidly for me as it is. But, from everything I both saw and heard, this Blu-ray is now the version to get! Highly recommended!!
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2002
This is an exceptional treat with two great actors in Connery and Caine and a great director in Huston, who seems to have been born to make just such a film. Based on a short story by Rudyard Kipling (who is played exceptionally by Christopher Plummer in the film), The Man Who Would Be King tells the story of two former British soldiers in India who devise a scheme to go to neighboring Kafiristan, set themselves up as royalty and then loot the country for all they can carry back home. After running into bandits on the way, enduring freezing temperatures and with a little unintended help from an avalanche, the two meet Billy Fish who gets them set up where they would like to be in Kafiristan. Eventually, and you can see how and why for yourself, Connery comes to be regarded by the locals as a god. This will have its advantages for Connery and Caine, but in the end will be their downfall (no pun intended for those who have already seen the film).
... I saw nothing of poor quality myself. The picture seemed crisp and sound quality was acceptable as well. Here's the negative: unless anything has changed with the manufacturing of the disc itself, one has to flip the disc over about halfway through the film. That's right. A *and* B sides. While I would prefer that the film be continuous all the way through, the fact that it isn't is not enough to give the DVD a negative review.
Also, there are some good extras here. There's a lot of "on location" and extra info about things that went on during the making of the film as well as a "making of" featurette (only about ten or fifteen minutes long). The featurette is nothing exceptional but it does show you what Connery landed on and how the entire cast and crew agonized over the bridge scene at the end of the film. It's also fun to see Connery sitting around in a camouflage hat on the set with the blood on his face that was so important to the story at the end of the film. You also get theatrical trailers for eight of Huston's films. Overall, if you want to see a sweeping film that has Connery and Caine playing roles they were born to play, pick this one up.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2005
I first saw Huston's "The Man Who Would Be King" in a 2$-a-show movie theatre in Philadelphia in the summer of 1976 when, as a young actor, I was going to the movies (usually at this cheap theatre) almost every day. I was completely bowled over by it. Even in 1976, it was clear that this was the kind of movie we weren't likely to see again. Production costs were simply becoming too prohibitive.

Over the years, I've tried watching it again a few times on TV, but with the small screen, canned sound and frequent commercial breaks, I never finished it. Now, in these home theatre days, I bought this DVD release looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with this true epic from a great master of the movies.

How disappointing it was, that halfway through a slightly-over-two-hours-long movie and at a most inopportune moment, the movie stopped, the screen went black and I had to flip the disc to continue. In a longer movie with a planned intermission break this would not be a problem, but here it is simply unfathomable. It would seem that any intelligent production company would have put the complete movie on one side of the disc and then, if necessary, put the special features on the other, but no - here we have half the movie and all the special features on one side, and the other half of the movie (again with all the special features!) on the other. While this doesn't completely ruin the experience it does damage the continuity and lessen the viewing experience.

That warning having been given, this is a magnificent movie. (And a "movie" it is, rather than a "film" - exciting, entertaining, moving, but with no pretensions, nothing of the gritty artiness of the mid-seventies films that today can look so dated.)

The casting is as near to perfect as you could imagine. Huston uses both Connery and Caine brilliantly as a brace of thoroughly amoral yet endearing con men, getting the maximum advantage out of each actor's strengths. Plummer, in the smaller supporting role of Kipling, shines as an intelligent and compassionate man, if a little slow on the uptake.

But it is Huston who, to my mind, is the real star. A screenwriter-turned-director, he excelled at taught, intimate dramas like The Maltese Falcon and Treasure of the Sierra Madre. (TotSM, despite being virtually all exteriors, still feels as claustrophobic as Hitchcock's Rope.) However, often when he took on larger projects he seemed to lose focus. Not here! This movie is brilliantly paced, with its flashback narrative structure, building to its sweeping climax and then its heartbreaking, slightly chilling denouement. Even more reason to be disappointed with the unneeded interruption lessening the dramatic flow of the story.

Buy the DVD. Revel in this, one of the greatest movies of the action/adventure genre. But please forgive my anger at Warner Brothers for botching what should have been a great DVD release.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2004
As movies go, The Man Who Would Be King is one of the all time best. It has barely aged at all (perhaps Caine's hair do is a bit dated) and is an example of great filmmaking. Probably by today's standard's it lags a bit in places (it's called pacing kids) and has some great action sequences but not too many exploding things. And don't forget that this movie was made before CGI etc (although several scenes are clearly matte paintings, but even those are top notch).

In short a really good, entertaining action/historical adventure film that anyone should be able to enjoy.

The DVD itself is fairly amazing. Yes, the DVD is one of those "two sided" deals that you will have to flip over half way through the movie, and yes, the movie tends to just start. You have to press menu to get to the menu, but those are minor quibbles. The real joy here is the amazingly clear picture transfer that was done for this film. Trust me, I have seen worse (Fiddler on the Roof for one). There are no marks, drop out or defects during the movie. Someone has really gone through and done a first class clean up job. It looks like it was filmed yesterday on digital film.

The extras are interesting, so to speak. The 12 minute short "It Must Be Magic" is interesting in that is has dated very badly (it goes on about how Moroccans have never seen movies etc., in a very un PC way) but provides some insights. Warning: DO NOT watch it until you have seen the movie as it contains a fairly huge spoiler!

There are also several fairly useless text info screens about Kipling and Masons etc. The other previews are for other films (although an original trailer for The Man Who Would Be King is on there too).

In short, as good as you remember it and a pristine presentation make this a must have!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2003
John Huston's The Man Who Would Be King is a film that both celebrates the adventuresome spirit of the nineteenth-century and illustrates everything that was wrong with British colonialism. The film is based upon the famous Rudyard Kipling tale and follows the exploits of Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine) and Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery). The two men hatch a plan where they will travel to Kafiristan and employ their wits and battle knowledge to become kings of Kafiristan. Skirmish after skirmish ensues and after one particular battle, Dravot survives being shot by an arrow and is presumed to be a god. Peachy and Dravot exploit this misunderstanding to the fullest and use their new stature to plunder the riches of Kafiristan. However, Dravot soon falls victim to his own human frailties and both he and Peachy are exposed as the frauds that they are. The rise and fall of Peachy and Dravot mirrors in microcosm the actual rise and fall of the British Colonial Empire itself. The subjugation of the natives leads to a brutal reckoning once the con men's motives are revealed to be less than noble just like the brutal reckoning the Empire experienced when the rest of the world adopted a more enlightened stance toward colonies the world over. In this sense, The Man Who Would Be King functions as a cautionary tale on the dual evils of racism and exploitation. Don't get the sense that this film is a heavy-handed "message" film though. Much credit must be given to Huston for managing to keep this film an adventuresome piece of mainstream entertainment despite its darker elements. Caine and Connery give great star turns as the dishonest schemers and we're overjoyed to be accompanying them on their treacherous journey into Kafiristan. When the film is over, we're depressed that their endless enthusiasm couldn't have been directed to more noble pursuits, but we're still glad we took the journey with them.
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