I am working my way through a huge Cary Grant dvd boxset, sort of one or two movies a month. I have come onto this film in the collection, I thought oh its from 1939 one of the greatest years in Hollywood history so why not make this one the first Cary Grant review.
Based roughly on the great Rudyard Kipling's poem of the same name this film is set in 19th century India. It follows the misadventures of three British soldiers (Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Victor McLaglen) who on their travels are joined by a local water-bearer, called Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe). They have the task of stopping a secret mass revival of the murderous Thuggee cult.
This film is greatly cast the three leads are just spot on, the friendship and mischief between all three is a wonder to watch. Douglas Fairbanks Jr proves he is not just the son of the silent eras biggest action star, but a decent actor too. This was released just as Cary Grant was finally making a name for himself, so he is very strong in front of the camera, compared to his earlier films where he starred with the legendary Mae West (who also got him in the movies). He is already developing his comedic ability in this film which is for me one of my favorite things about Cary, he could act straight but also pull off comedy, which brings in nicely to nice film..... and for me its problems.
The Cinematography is brilliant for the era, various shots perfectly placed never too far or too close from the action just right. Especially in the interior sets its nicely done, chasing up and down stairs the camera just stays static and lets the action happen in front of it, nowadays the camera moves with the action, maybe its the simplicity in it but I like the static camera of yesteryear. Now here is the sad thing for this film, if it hadn't of been released in 1939 it would of been regarded as one of the best unfortunately... 1939 was an amazing year for cinema, Gone With the Wind, Wizard of Oz, Mr Smith Goes to Washington and Goodbye Mr Chips just to name a few, so as you can probably tell the competition is not in its favor!.
Saying all that tho I did enjoy the movie, not one of the best early Grant movies but its worth a watch.