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MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, The
(John Huston. 1975 )

 

“Let us seek safety on the battlefield.”

 THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING

 

 

 

Danny: Peachy, I'm heartily ashamed for gettin' you killed instead of going home rich like you deserved to, on account of me bein' so bleedin' high and bloody mighty. Can you forgive me?

Peachy:That I can and that I do, Danny, free and full and without let or hindrance.

Danny: Everything's all right then.

Indeed it is,even after takingsome 40 years to reach the screen...

John Huston fell inlove with the Rudyard Kiplingshort storyin the 1930s and finally wrote a script in the early 50 aimed at

 

Clark Gable & Humphrey Bogart

... as Daniel Dravot &Peachy Carneham.

"Bogie died and I put the thought away," said Huston. "During The Misfits, Gable said: 'Well, let's go with someone else.'We were in the process of doing that when Gabledied.And I put it away again."

Hehad actuallythought ofreviving it. in the 50s with

In the 50s: Burt Lancaster & Kirk Douglas.

In the60s:Paul Newman & Frank Sinatra.

In the UK: Peter O’Toole & Richard Burton.

Then, while shooting The Mackintosh Man, 1971, in his beloved Galway, withPaul Newman, their producer, JohnForeman,found some of Huston's scenesketches from the50s brought Paul Nedwman and Robert Redford together as Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, and they were due to make The Sting - why not, said Foreman, a third teaming?

Newman loved the scenarios, old and new, but was forcedto admit...it would be better if Danny and Peachy remained British.

“For Christ’s sake, John

- get Connery & Caine.

Perfect, said Huston.

And repeated it after the 1975filming..."I believe Connery and Caine gave better performancesthan either Bogart or Gable could have, because they are the real thing. They are those characters.... Occasionally, there's an actor who likes to talk about his role, so I'll talk with him. But that doesn't happen very often.In fact, with Sean Connery and Michael Caine, there was not one conversation between us. They just did it themselves."

“It was a great experience," reported Caine, "and it could’ve been dreadful if it had been done with two other men. But as it was, it was one of the happiest... most delightful films I’ve ever made - in some of the most uncomfortable conditions. One man was a very close friend - I’ve known Sean since I was 24 and he was 27. We used to hang out at The Salisbury, where they had cheap beer and cheap food. That place helped keep us alive. And the other became a very close friend, although I’d never met John before that film.? I said to him one day: ‘You don’t really tell us much, do you?’ He said: ‘You’re being paid a lot of money to do this, Michael. You should be able to get it right on your own’.”

And they did, blocking  their scenesbefore Huston arrived to shoot them. "If he said, I'm not going to cut onthis, I'm going to do six pages,we would arrange the movements so that we worked each other round so that eachtime yougot yourbest bit you'd be facing the camera.It's veryeasy with Sean. There's no sense of evil intent in his acting. A lot of actors spend a great deal of time working out how to screw the other actor - which, of course, screws the scenes, usually screws the picture but definitely screws them."

Even Mrs. Caine got into the movie when Huston realised thatthe fair-skinned Tessa Dahl(daughter of writer RoaldDahl and PatricaNeal), did not match her Berber tribesmen.Told to "move like a pantheress," Sharika Caine became the princessmarryingSean when he was declared a god byher villagers.

"Terrible forTessa," agreed Sharika, acting for the first and last time with her husband."I was hesitant about taking it over. But they told me someone would get it anyway."

Michael Caineand Sean ConnerycherishedtheirHuston experience. Visiting him in hospital some years later whenhe seemed close todeath, he opened an eye asthey sat by hisbed and said:

"Ah!Peachy and Danny

-you've come to see me!"






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