LITR 5831 World / Multicultural Literature

Film / Video Highlights

22 September 2015

Video highlights: The Man Who Would be King (1975)

Presenter: Jeanette Smith

The Man Who Would be King - Film highlights

Presented by Jeanette Smith

The Man Who Would be King. Dir. John Huston. Perf. Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer. 1975. Filmed in England, France, and Morocco.

Question: Who has seen the film?

Cast Trivia: First casting picks for Daniel and Peachey were Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable, then Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster, and finally Robert Redford and Paul Newman. It was Newman who suggested to Huston that the starring roles needed to go to Brits. 

(Director John Huston, 1906-87, started his career in the 1940s with classics like The Maltese Falcon starring Bogart along with many other Hollywood Golden Era classics. Huston was also an important screenwriter and appeared as an actor in Roman Polanski's Chinatown and about 20 other films. Three generations of his family won Academy Awards, including his father, actor Walter Huston, and his daughter, Anjelica Houston, b. 1951, who is best known as Morticia in The Addams Family, 1991)

Sean Connery – Daniel Dravot (Connery said this was his favorite role).

Michael Caine – Peachey Carnehan

Christopher Plummer – Rudyard Kipling

Sayeed Jaffrey - Billy Fish (born in Punjab, British India)

 (Priest Kafu Selim)- Karroom Ben Bouih (old olive grove guardian).  



Shakira Caine – Roxanne (wife of Michael Caine who fell in love with her when he saw her in a Maxwell House commercial – married for over 30 years)



Objective 2b. To extend genre studies to poetry and film (Hats On scene)

Dialogue with Robinson Crusoe and A Small Place

Crusoe 14.2: “the general plague of mankind, whence, for aught I know, one half of their miseries flow: I mean that of not being satisfied with the station wherein God and Nature hath placed them.”

A Small Place:  The reason they [the English] are so miserable now is that they have no place else to go and nobody else to feel better than.”

Significance of clothing?



Scenes 1- 6

1: On the March (The King and his Subjects)

Questions: What is the significance of the way Daniel and Peachey are dressed? Notice the mise en scène (put into the scene).

2: Roxanne (Offerings for the King)

Objective 4. To observe representations or repressions of gender in male-dominant fields of cross-cultural contact

Dr. White’s discussion question 8: As ever, gender becomes entangled with racism in cross-cultural studies. How are women regarded in this and other colonial texts?

Question: How does Daniel regard Roxanne?  Listen to what he says about how he would like her to be dressed. Any connection seen with Friday?

Objective 2. Self and other: Identifying the other as us or them, you might defend, nurture, befriend, intermarry or attack, undermine

Consider the character of Billy Fish as the “interracial buddy.” Compare to Robinson Crusoe’s Friday.

4. Marked Men – 8:15 - 14:44 (Saved by the symbol)

Objective 7. To register the persistence of millennial or apocalyptic narratives, symbols, and themes as a means of describing the colonial-postcolonial encounter.

Messianism: Idea of a messiah or savior who saves or changes everything for the better. 

5: The Investiture – (Crowning of the King/Lawgiver 16:40-17:17 and 24:57- )

Crusoe 16.42: I thought myself very rich in subjects; and it was a merry reflection, which I frequently made, how like a king I looked. First of all, the whole country was my own property, so that I had an undoubted right of dominion. Secondly, my people were perfectly subjected—I was absolutely lord and lawgiver—they all owed their lives to me, and were ready to lay down their lives… for me. 

Scenes 7-12

8 – Danny’s Destiny (to 33:39)

Crusoe: 14. 4:  How infinitely good that Providence is, which has provided, in its government of mankind, such narrow bounds to his sight and knowledge of things; and though he walks in the midst of so many thousand dangers, the sight of which, if discovered to him, would distract his mind and sink his spirits, he is kept serene and calm, by having the events of things hid from his eyes, and knowing nothing of the dangers which surround him

11 Royal Choice (to 39:33)

How does Peachey describe the “others”?

12 – The Jig Is Up (Wedding Scene to 45:35)

Consider Dr. White’s discussion question: What mistakes does Daniel make following from his assumptions about whiteness?

2nd wave – independence from colonialism - Native peoples of colonized territories challenge colonialism

Scenes 13-14

13 – Fall of a King

When watching Billy Fish’s final scene consider Kincaid’s words in A Small Place:  “What happened to me, what I became after I met you.”

Question:  Is Billy better off after being ‘colonized”?

Billy Fish’s sacrifice in dialog with Robinson Crusoe 16:32: “Friday, being now left to his liberty, pursued the flying wretches, with no weapon in his hand but his hatchet.”

How are guns portrayed in this scene in comparison with earlier portrayals in the book/film?

14 – Never Let Go - (Final scene with Kipling and Peachey)

Objective 2a: Self & other: Can Colonizers be understood as other than villains? Who are the villains in The Man Who Would Be King? Who are the victims?

Final thought (from Dr. White’s site): Instead of one entity being pure, clean, and righteous and the other being impure, dirty, evil, you have the human condition in which all characters, actions, motives are aspiring but ironically, even tragically compromised.