Roanoke’s historic Grandin Theatre will screen the 1975 epic “The Man Who Would Be King” tomorrow morning. It is this month’s offering in their Classic Film Series presented by Friendship Retirement Community. Showtime is 10 a.m. in the main auditorium and admission is free. Simply ask for a ticket at the box office then settle in for a great kickoff to your weekend.
This classic tale of greed adapted from a Rudyard Kipling story begins in 1885 India. Ex-British soldiers turned soldiers of fortune Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery) and the delightfully named Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine) inform Kipling (Christopher Plummer) that they plan to literally live like kings in the land of Kafiristan (now Afghanistan). Their plan seems slightly less preposterous after a twist of fate sees them regarded as gods. However, attaining wealth and power is one thing while keeping it is something else altogether.
The legendary Academy Award winning director John Huston, who received nine other Oscar nominations over five decades, vividly brings this tale to life from his screenplay co-written with Gladys Hill. The movie garnered four Oscar nominations including Adapted Screenplay and for the equally legendary Edith Head’s lavish costumes. Best known for the Humphrey Bogart classics “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” “Key Largo” and “The African Queen,” Huston was a larger-than-life adventurer himself and a big Kipling fan. He sought to make this film for years and initially hoped to do so with Bogey and Clark Gable.
However, classic films have a way of happening when the time is just right and Connery and Caine make the perfect pairing. And they come from almost identical personal and career backgrounds. Both of their mothers were cleaning women, both worked a variety of odd jobs and they each joined the military. They were also each best known for playing literary British spies, Connery in six outings as James Bond and Caine as Harry Palmer in “The Ipcress File,” “Funeral in Berlin” and “Billion Dollar Brain.” Those similarities no doubt add to their on-screen chemistry in this classic adventure.