title: The Man Who Would Be King
year: 1975
cast: Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer
director: John Huston
rating: **1/2

What I assumed would be a "Lawrence of Arabia" meets "Wind and the Lion" turned out to be "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" meets "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels". I enjoyed the first half hour the most as Michael Caine and Sean Connery (as two con men) and Christopher Plummer (who plays writer Rudyard Kipling: literally vanishing into the role... I didn't even recognize him) are first introduced. Then when the adventure to seek a hidden city of gold where both men (Connery and Caine) could easily become wealthy kings begins (leaving Plummer behind), the movie hits a snag. They hike a formidable snow-covered mountain with four mules; then end up with one mule; then an avalanche falls; and then they find reach their destination. Sound easy? Well it was: MUCH TOO easy. (The scenery was gorgeous but looked, and seemed, like stock footage). When they reach the city... more of a wasteland... there's a few good scenes involving our daring-duo training the natives to fight (although many of the “foreign” actors are annoyingly hammy); then a fairly decent epic battle occurs where Sean Connery is shot in the chest with an arrow, which really hits his bandolier but the people think he's overcome death. And he becomes a god and then a king (or did I get that backwards?). Connery becomes enthralled in power and madness way too suddenly. This reminded me of Bogart going gold-loco in Huston’s masterpiece "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" but unlike that film, there's very little story arc from fortune-hunter to tyrant. After one argument about Connery's "new attitude", Connery quickly realizes he's gone a bit too far but still wants to remain in power –, the two make up, there's a "royal wedding", the people find out he's NOT a god when he bleeds, and, well, he basically becomes Wile E. Coyote without the help of ACME. Huston offers a beautiful film but I didn't feel INTO it. John Milius, who wrote and directed "The Wind and the Lion" (co-starring Huston), did a much better job with big sets, lots of sand, and Sean Connery. With that film I felt PART OF the adventure; here I was merely a witness.

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