Sean Connery swaps the red nappy for brown face while Michael Caine indulges his penchant for yelling at and murdering foreigners in this 1975 Rudyard Kipling adaptation about a pair of British soldiers who seek to become kings of Kafiristan, AKA Lawrence of A-bloody-rabia.
Despite belonging in Quiz Call‘s ‘films with man in the title’ category, this could equally come under ‘films secretly about Donald Trump’ (alongside The Greatest Showman, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Super Size Me) as it reveals how easily a conman can fool people and even convince himself of the right to rule. This makes it a surprisingly relevant morality tale about the corruption of power and the avarice of empire.
At the same time, it finds sympathy in its opportunist protagonists, making for a fun adventure flick that finds Connery and Caine at the top of their game. The former brings an appropriate level of bluster to the deluded title character, perceived as a god by the people of Kafiristan (they obviously haven’t seen Diamonds Are Forever), while Christopher Plummer is exceedingly good as Mr. Kipling.
The production is equally impressive, boasting authentic sets, costumes and music from David Lean‘s composer Maurice Jarre. The picture is dramatically directed and smartly written by John Huston and Gladys Hill, knocking Rambo III out of its position as second-best movie set in Afghanistan and offering a glimpse into how Return of the Jedi might have progressed if C-3PO had gone along with the Ewoks’ belief that he was a god.
Through interesting themes, ambiguous characters and Oscar-nominated art direction, this is really too good a movie to be a Quiz Call answer, though given its imperial setting it could have been on The Mint.