The Man Who Would Be King might not have struck the right chord with me as it has with others, but thanks to Huston’s tight direction, at least an interesting story based on story by Rudyard Kipling and a brilliant looking and breathtaking cinematography by Morris makes this a worthwhile venture.
Genre(s): Drama, Adventure
Warner | PG – 129 min. – $34.99 | June 7, 2011
Directed by: John Huston
Writer(s): Rudyard Kipling (story), John Huston and Gladys Hill (screenplay)
Cast: Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer
Theatrical Release Date: December 17, 1975
Features: Featurette, Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD 1.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
Based on the story by Rudyard Kipling, The Man Who Would Be King stars Sean Connery and Michael Caine as Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnehan respectively. The two Brits meet a journalist, basically Rudyard Kipling (CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER), as they tell their plans to travel to Kafiristan, a land that had not set foot on since Alexander the Great centuries earlier. The plan is to find and befriend the king or chief, take on and defeat their enemies and then take over the land for themselves.
So the two men set off for this land braving the elements from miles upon miles of desert to dangerous snow-covered mountains, sticking together in thick and thin before reaching the land they’ve only dreamt of. They take on the villagers’ enemies, make friends of the chief and believing Dravot is a god, a descendent of Alexander the Great, they proclaim him king with Peachy serving as his advisor. They become settled in their new roles but soon their own friendship becomes strained as Dravot is consumed by his power and greed.
The Man Who Would Be King was well received back in 1975 and today probably even further appreciated by fans of Kipling, director John Huston and the two veteran actors. Being this was my first viewing of the film, I wasn’t as enamored with the story as it never quite connected for me on an emotional level which is necessary towards the end, but I can still appreciate the top notch performances by Sean Connery and Michael Caine and also the absolutely beautiful direction from Huston along with the cinematography by Oswald Morris who won the Oscar for Fiddler on the Roof in 1971.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.25/5
This digibook release comes with a nice 32-page booklet with info on the players and on the production. However, that’s where the interesting aspects end. There’s a vintage featurette entitled Call It Magic: The Making of The Man Who Would Be King (12:00; SD) and the theatrical trailer (1:06; SD).
VIDEO – 4/5
The Man Who Would Be King is presented in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and now in 1080p high-definition. I was rather impressed with this transfer. Given the movie is over 35 years old, the picture has a fair amount of detail level throughout, the color array is also good while there’s a fine amount of natural film grain. I didn’t notice any sort of dust and/or scratches so obviously some work has been done on this release and fans of the film will no doubt be happy with it.
AUDIO – 3/5
The disc provides a simple DTS-HD MA 1.0 track which is serviceable and obviously how the audio was originally recorded and processed. All of the action, from Maurice Jarre’s score to dialogue to gunfire, takes place in the center channel.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, The Man Who Would Be King might not have struck the right chord with me as it has with others, but thanks to Huston’s tight direction, at least an interesting story based on story by Rudyard Kipling and a brilliant looking and breathtaking cinematography by Morris makes this a worthwhile venture. The Blu-ray also has a good video transfer, an adequate audio track but lacks in the special features arena having only a vintage featurette and trailer. I know studios are cutting back on costs but a retrospective featurette would’ve been great.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman