Gunga Din

1939

Gunga Din

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

92%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 26

74%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,066
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Movie Info

Though Rudyard Kipling's poem Gunga Din makes a swell recital piece, it cannot be said to have much of a plot. It's simply a crude cockney soldier's tribute to a native Indian water boy who remains at his job even after being mortally wounded. Hardly the sort of material upon which to build 118 minutes' worth of screen time-at least, it wasn't until RKO producer Pandro S. Berman decided to convert Gunga Din into an A-budgeted feature film. Now it became the tale of three eternally brawling British sergeants stationed in colonial India: Cutter (Cary Grant), McChesney (Victor McLaglen) and Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.). Ballantine intends to break up the threesome by marrying lovely Emmy Stebbins (Joan Fontaine), while Cutter and McChesney begin hatching diabolical schemes to keep Ballantine in the army (if this plot element sounds a lot like something from the Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur play The Front Page, bear in mind that Hecht and McArthur shared writing credit on Gunga Din with Joel Sayre and Fred Guiol; also contributing to the screenplay, uncredited, was William Faulkner). All three sergeants are kept occupied with a native revolt fomented by the Thuggees, a fanatical religious cult headed by a Napoleonic Guru (Eduardo Ciannelli). Unexpectedly coming to the rescue of our three heroes-not to mention every white man, woman and child in the region-is humble water carrier Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe), who aspires to become the regimental trumpeter. Originally slated to be directed by Howard Hawks, Gunga Din was taken out of Hawks' hands when the director proved to be too slow during the filming of Bringing Up Baby. His replacement was George Stevens, who proved to be slower and more exacting than Hawks had ever been!

Cast

Cary Grant
as Sgt. Cutter
Victor McLaglen
as Sgt. MacChesney
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
as Sgt. Ballantine
Sam Jaffe
as Gunga Din
Joan Fontaine
as Emmy Stebbins
Montagu Love
as Col. Weed
Robert Coote
as Higganbotham
Lumsden Hare
as Maj. Mitchell
Cecil Kellaway
as Mr. Stebbins
Ann Evers
as Girl at Party
Audrey Manners
as Girl at Party
Fay McKenzie
as Girl at Party
Roland Varno
as Lt. Markham
Charles Bennett
as Telegraph Operator
Frank Levya
as Native Merchant
George Ducount
as Thug Chieftain
Jamiel Hasson
as Thug Chieftain
George Regas
as Thug Chieftain
Bryant Fryer
as Scotch Sergeant
Clive Morgan
as Lancer Captain
View All

Critic Reviews for Gunga Din

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for Gunga Din

  • Aug 31, 2011
    Cary Grant and company ruin a lot of brown peoples' days, 1800s-style. Loosely based on the poem by Rudyard Kipling, follows three british military officers as they party and fight their way through Indian deserts. When they're not getting drunk and beating up each other, the three army pals are taking on the thugee cult, fist-pummeling dozens upon dozens of angry thugs. Gunga Din is a fun movie, and it was apparently a huge inspiration to Steven Spielberg, as it was a source of major inspiration for "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom".
    Devon B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2011
    Poor Gunga Din. He was fighting on the wrong side.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 18, 2011
    Doesn't hold up very well but set the blueprint for the buddy adventure movie that still gets made today. This thing is so testosterone-fueled that watching it with your girlfriend might turn her into a hermaphrodite. The only woman in all of India is Joan Fontaine whose only function is to annoy and emasculate her fiancee Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Meanwhile his "friends" try to trick him into re-enlisting in the regimental army for another 9 years - great guys, huh? But it's all lighthearted stuff, Cary Grant is awesome as usual as the scoundrelly Sergeant Cutter who wants to find a legendary golden temple that happens to be the HQ of a burgeoning Thuggee cult. You know the Thuggees, the Kali-worshipping maniacs from <i>Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom</i>, Spielberg even ripped off the rope bridge scene from this movie! Good action scenes keep this afloat because some of the in-between moments, like the ballroom soiree, bring the movie to screeching halt.
    Doctor S Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    This movie was better than I expected, and I loved Cary Grant in the movie, it was the ending that I liked best. The movie has some boring scenes, and the story is a bit silly. I wasn't sure what to rate this movie, you'll have to see it for yourself.
    Aj V Super Reviewer

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