1950 Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||Victor Saville|
|Produced by||Leon Gordon|
|Written by||Helen Deutsch |
by Rudyard Kipling
|Music by||André Previn|
|Cinematography||William V. Skall|
|Edited by||George Boemler|
Kim is a 1950 adventure film made in Technicolor by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed by Victor Saville and produced by Leon Gordon from a screenplay by Helen Deutsch, Leon Gordon and Richard Schayer, based on the classic novel of the same name by Rudyard Kipling.
The film starred Errol Flynn, Dean Stockwell, and Paul Lukas. The music score was by André Previn. The film was shot on location in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, India, as well as the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, California, due to its resemblance to the Khyber Pass. Of particular interest is the location filming at La Martiniere College in Lucknow.
Kim (Dean Stockwell), an orphan boy in 1885 India during the British Raj, works at times for his friend Mahbub Ali (Errol Flynn), a roguish horse trader who is also a secret agent for the British. Mahbub Ali becomes aware of a Russian-backed plot to instigate a rebellion.
Meanwhile, Kim encounters an elderly Buddhist lama (Paul Lukas) from Tibet, who is on a quest to find the "River of the Arrow", whose waters will cleanse him spiritually. Mahbub Ali has the young boy become the kindly priest's "chela" or disciple so that he can deliver a message to Colonel Creighton (Robert Douglas), Mahbub Ali's superior. On the journey along the Grand Trunk Road, the two travelers grow to love each other. Kim learns to beg passersby for coins.
One day, British soldiers set up camp. Kim notices that their regimental flag depicts a red bull on a green field, which matches a prophecy left him by his now-deceased father, so he sneaks into the encampment and is accosted by a sentry. During a scuffle, his captors discover documents Kim possesses which show that he is actually the son of Kimball O'Hara, an Irish soldier who had served in the regiment. The lama decides that Kim should live among his own kind to be educated (despite the boy's resistance) and pays for his tuition at the finest boarding school in India. The boy chafes at the school's many restrictions, but eventually settles down.
Mahbub Ali convinces Colonel Creighton, that the boy has the potential to become a wonderful spy; to that end, Kim receives extra training from the shopkeeper Lurgan (Arnold Moss) during the first part of his summer vacation in how to make careful observations and remember coded messages.
Later, Kim saves the life of Mahbub Ali. He is then reunited with his lama and sent to help Hurree Chunder (Cecil Kellaway) keep an eye on two Russian spies posing as surveyors. When he finds Chunder murdered, Kim continues the mission by persuading the Russians to hire him as their servant. He is eventually unmasked and the lama is beaten up. When news of Chunder's death reaches the British, Mahbub Ali is sent to take his place; he rescues Kim and takes charge of the interlopers' papers, but is forced to kill the Russians. In the end, the injured lama finds his river (at least in his own mind), stumbles to it, and dies contentedly.
- Errol Flynn as Mahbub Ali, the Red Beard
- Dean Stockwell as Kim
- Paul Lukas as Lama
- Robert Douglas as Colonel Creighton
- Thomas Gomez as Emissary
- Cecil Kellaway as Hurree Chunder
- Arnold Moss as Lurgan Sahib
- Reginald Owen as Father Victor
- Laurette Luez as Laluli
- Richard Hale as Hassan Bey
- Roman Toporow as The Russian
- Ivan Triesault as The other Russian
Earlier proposed versions
In 1942 it was reactivated to star Mickey Rooney, Conrad Veidt (as Red Lama) and Basil Rathbone, from a script by Leon Gordon and produced by Victor Saville. However this was postponed out of fear of offending Indians and also war-time allies the Russians, who were the villains.
In 1948 the Indian government approved the film and the Cold War meant it was permissible to have Russian villains. In January 1949 the project was reactivated as a vehicle for MGM's child star Dean Stockwell. Errol Flynn was signed in September.
Paul Lukas and Flynn went to India but all scenes involving Dean Stockwell were shot in Hollywood. Flynn left for India in November after attending a Royal screening of That Forsyte Woman in London.
Locations used in the film included La Martiniere Lucknow (depicted as St. Xavier's College) in Lucknow, the horse market at the Kashmir Gates, Sirala, and the Himalayan foothills and the Khyber Pass. Doubles were used for Dean Stockwell and the characters of Huree Babu, Creighton Sahib and Lurgan Sahib (these hadn't been cast at the time of filming).
The unit returned to MGM in January 1950 to shoot the rest of the movie on the backlot.
The movie was successful at the box office: according to MGM records the movie earned $2,896,000 in the US and Canada and $2,465,000 overseas, making it one of the studio's most popular films of the year. It was one of the most popular films at the French box office in 1951, with admissions of 2,514,860.
It made an overall profit of $1,064,000.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- Variety film review; December 6, 1950, page 15.
- Harrison's Reports film review; December 9, 1950, page 195.
- SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Remake of George M. Cohan's 'Little Johnny Jones' Is Scheduled by Metro MELODRAMA AT CRITERION ' Mayor of 44th Street' Opens Today -- True to the Army' Will Arrive Saturday By Telephone to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 10 June 1942: 25.
- 'KIM' IN INDIA: Metro's Cameras Turn on Kipling Story -- Summary of the Week in Hollywood By THOMAS F. BRADY HOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 11 Dec 1949: X5.
- Deal for James Stewart as 'Harvey' Star on Foot; Shearer Return Pending Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 19 Sep 1949: 31.
- Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer & Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 172-173
- Errol Flynn Flying Out To Delhi: New Indian Films Mendonca, Clare. The Times of India (1861-current) [New Delhi, India] 27 Nov 1949: 14.
- 1951 French box office information at Box Office Story
- Kirby, Walter (February 17, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 40. Retrieved June 1, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.