Classic Film Guide

Gunga Din (1939)

Based on a Rudyard Kipling poem, this is a very entertaining adventure film with an excellent cast including Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Victor McLaglen, Sam Jaffe (in the title role), Eduardo Ciannelli and Joan Fontaine. Directed by George Stevens, after Howard Hawks was removed when Bringing Up Baby (1938) bombed at the box office; it was added to the National Film Registry in 1999. Oscar nominated for its Cinematography (the first of two unrewarded Academy Award nominations for Joseph August). Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur's (The Scoundrel (1935)) story was adapted by Joel Sayre & Fred Guiol. #74 on AFI's 100 Most Inspiring Movies list.

Grant, Fairbanks Jr., and McLaglen play three Sergeants in the British Army that find themselves defending the Empire against an uprising in India. Jaffe plays a local who's befriended, primarily by Grant, that wants to join up and serve in the military unit he idolizes. Fairbanks Jr.'s character is engaged to Fontaine's and, since his service time is almost up, is replaced in the trio by another (played by Robert Coote) ... this is, until the action begins. Great set pieces (including a hanging bridge over a deep canyon), battle sequences, dialogue, and even an elephant, with humor mixed in, make this yet another of the many must-see films from that great classic movie year of 1939.

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