The Man Who Would Be King

The Man Who Would Be King (John Huston, 1975)

Entering in a John Huston film is always a challenge for because I tend to not like his films very much: The Maltese Falcon was ok but take Bogart apart and it's never the same movie. The Asphalt Jungle is in my opinion a better Noir than Maltese... As for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The African Queen, they are adventure movies that tend too much of crowd pleasers to my tastes. Moby Dick is probably my favorite of his films I've seen so far! Well, you would say I need to see The Misfits, Beat the Devil, The Dead, Wise Blood, Key Largo, Under the Volcano, etc. Probably, but for now I catched The Man Who Would Be King on a specialised movie channel and I surprisingly liked it.

India and those Arabian countries were gold mines to directors of the old generation(s), Fritz Lang, Jean Renoir, Louis Malle, Roberto Rossellini, and others I surely forgot. The Man Who... is the story of two adventurers British soldiers (Sean Connery and Michael Caine) who would be (Kings) rich, free, and on their own. They decide to travel to an almost inhospitable country to fight for a land and become kings. They learn that no white men have returned alive from that land. We they arrive there they form an army and decide to conquer to learn that they are on the path of the Greek almost god Alexander The Great. One of them is then considered as his son.

This epic story about the will to become great men, kings shows how the power can lead to greatness but also to excesses in every aspect. The presence of Connery is extraordinary and his character's evolution is well mastered with his ever growing taste for power.

The cinematography is interesting and the vast landscapes are filming really well as the close-ups of the stars and the natives actors. Without knowing the year the movie was made, 1975, I couldn't have guessed if it was in the 1960's 1970's or in the 1980's. It has an unperishable glow on it and some interiors reminded me of the firsts Indiana Jones in their lighting and presentation.

The two leads, Sean Connery and Michael Caine did an excellent job. Their pairing is interesting and also really British comedic. This is maybe one of the aspects I was the more surprised about, how the dialogues included lots of jokes between the two main characters and how it felt right in this genre that is wildly and boldly over serious.

With The Man Who Would Be King John Huston gain some points in my personnal Director rating. I probably have this negative approach to his films mainly because of François Truffaut who used to constantly bash Huston's films... After all, we all have our opinions on films and whether they are great or dull.

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