And Sean Connery became the man who wanted to be king

A collector’s box set, limited to 2000 copies, allows you to rediscover John Huston’s masterpiece. A pinnacle of adventure cinema.

It is arguably one of the founding films that redefined modern adventure cinema. Released in 1976, The Man Who Would Be King), by John Huston, with Sean Connery and Michael Caine, based on the work of Rudyard Kipling, is one of those nuggets that shine in the firmament of the seventh art.It comes out in a collector’s box set limited to 2000 copies, including a blu -ray, a DVD and a large format book with photos and archives, written by Samuel Blumenfeld. The man who wanted to be king showed the way and will enable films such as The Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mission, The Emerald Forest or, more recently, The Lost City of Z, to follow in his footsteps.

I’m crazy about the news from Kipling!

John huston

At the origins of the project, we find a passion that goes back to childhood. That of the American director for Rudyard Kipling, and his Jungle Book. In 1952, screenwriter Peter Viertel (with whom he wrote The African Queen) introduces Huston to the news The Man Who Would Be King. The shock is great. The story of these two former sergeants of the British Empire, half idealists, half crooks, who want to make their fortune in Kafiristan, a lost land where no Westerner has entered since Alexander the Great, has a strong flavor of adventure. and reverie. “I’m crazy about the news from Kipling!”, wrote Huston at the time. However, it will be almost twenty-three years before the filmmaker achieves his goals.

Initially, Huston wants “Bogart and Gable for the main roles”. In the fascinating book telling the behind the scenes of the shooting, signed by Samuel Blumenfeld, we see that the distribution fluctuates over the decades. The roles of Peachy Carnehan and Daniel Dravot are in turn devolved to Robert Mitchum and Clark Gable. In 1963, after The Night of the Iguana, Richard Burton enters the dance. Three years later, it’s the turn of Sean Connery, who shows his desire to put away his James Bond tuxedo.

Financial ups and downs

However, the project falls back into limbo. In 1973, rummaging through Huston’s library, producer John Foreman unearthed three adaptations of The man who wanted to be king. After the success of Butch Cassidy and the Kid, Foreman dreams of a new Paul Newman-Robert Redford ticket. But when Newman reads the script, it seems obvious to him that only British actors can play these characters. Grand prince, he suggests Michael Caine and Sean Connery. “I could only agree with Newman”, Huston would later estimate.

After a thousand and one financial adventures concerning the filming locations, India, Turkey and Afghanistan, Huston chooses Morocco and the Atlas Mountains for the sequences of the sacred city of Sikandergul. Alexandre Trauner, the decorator of Marcel Carné, works wonders by blithely exceeding the budget. Sean Connery is dazzling in Daniel Dravot, with that pinch of madness that we do not know him so far. With his friend Caine, they are totally involved. Both know that this film will change their careers, even if it will constantly oscillate between extreme preparation and total improvisation.

Perhaps it is this miracle of balance achieved by a Huston already suffering from emphysema (which required him to spend time in an oxygen tent from which he stuck out his cigar in his mouth) that gives The man who wanted to be king its underground strength, its penetrating charm and its mystery never really cleared up. The breath of adventure is delivered there raw, more powerful than ever, absolutely unrefined. The film will go down in legend as the last flagship of true adventure cinema. It remains to this day the most fabulous invitation to travel … The stuff of which dreams are made.

“The Man Who Wished To Be King”, by John Huston, with Sean Connery and Michael Caine, restored version, collector’s edition Blu-ray + DVD + book, Wild Side, € 69.99. 1975, renewed 2003 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved


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