Kim (1951)

112-113 mins | Adventure | 26 January 1951

Director:

Victor Saville

Producer:

Leon Gordon

Cinematographer:

William Skall

Editor:

George Boemler

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Hans Peters

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The title card of this film reads: "Rudyard Kipling's Kim ." The screen credits contain the following written acknowledgment: "To the government of India and to His Highness, the Maharajah of Jaipur, and His Highness, the Maharajah of Bundi, we express our deep appreciation for the facilities afforded us in filming this picture in India." The picture opens with an onscreen narrator, or storyteller, speaking directly to the audience about the historical period and setting of the story. The same narrator speaks offscreen intermittently throughout the film.
       Kipling's novel was first published serially in McClure's magazine (Dec 1900--Oct 1901). According to a modern interview with director Victor Saville, M-G-M studio head Irving Thalberg purchased the screen rights to the novel in 1934, and some contemporary news items announced the studio's plan to film the story as early as 1935. An Apr 1937 The Washington Times article, however, reported that M-G-M had "recently" bought the screen rights from stage actress Maude Adams, and an Aug 1942 HR news item claimed that M-G-M had acquired the property "many years ago" from Cosmopolitan Productions.
       Various contemporary news items indicate that preparations to shoot Kim were begun and halted a number of times during the period between 1935 and 1949. Some of the delays and false starts were attributed to script difficulties. A Feb 1949 NYT article states that a total of eight scripts were written and rejected between 1935 and 1942. According to news items in 1935, M-G-M borrowed Howard Estabrook from Twentieth Century-Fox to write the first draft of the screenplay. Louis D. Lighton was ... More Less

The title card of this film reads: "Rudyard Kipling's Kim ." The screen credits contain the following written acknowledgment: "To the government of India and to His Highness, the Maharajah of Jaipur, and His Highness, the Maharajah of Bundi, we express our deep appreciation for the facilities afforded us in filming this picture in India." The picture opens with an onscreen narrator, or storyteller, speaking directly to the audience about the historical period and setting of the story. The same narrator speaks offscreen intermittently throughout the film.
       Kipling's novel was first published serially in McClure's magazine (Dec 1900--Oct 1901). According to a modern interview with director Victor Saville, M-G-M studio head Irving Thalberg purchased the screen rights to the novel in 1934, and some contemporary news items announced the studio's plan to film the story as early as 1935. An Apr 1937 The Washington Times article, however, reported that M-G-M had "recently" bought the screen rights from stage actress Maude Adams, and an Aug 1942 HR news item claimed that M-G-M had acquired the property "many years ago" from Cosmopolitan Productions.
       Various contemporary news items indicate that preparations to shoot Kim were begun and halted a number of times during the period between 1935 and 1949. Some of the delays and false starts were attributed to script difficulties. A Feb 1949 NYT article states that a total of eight scripts were written and rejected between 1935 and 1942. According to news items in 1935, M-G-M borrowed Howard Estabrook from Twentieth Century-Fox to write the first draft of the screenplay. Louis D. Lighton was the first producer assigned to the film, and Freddie Bartholomew and Lionel Barrymore were among the first stars cast.
       Preparations were suspended sometime before Sep 1936, when M-G-M began production on Captains Courageous , a film based on another Kipling novel. Captains Courageous was produced by Lighton, directed by Victor Fleming and starred Bartholomew, Barrymore and Spencer Tracy (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.0595). In Apr 1937, two months before Captains Courageous was released, M-G-M announced that Kim would be made with Lighton producing, Fleming directing, Bartholomew in the title role and Robert Taylor in the part initially announced for Barrymore. Lighton's production was subsequently shelved, however, and HR did not report on any further work on Kim until Jan 1942, when it was announced that Victor Saville would produce the film with a script by Leon Gordon.
       In Apr 1942, Mickey Rooney was announced for the title role, and later Akim Tamiroff, Laird Cregar, Conrad Veidt and Basil Rathbone were announced for parts. According to the modern interview with Saville, Cedric Hardwicke was set to play the "Lama" before the first screenplay had been approved. In mid-Jul 1942, a HR news item noted that filming would begin "within three weeks," with Richard Thorpe directing. Herbert Stothart was assigned to write the musical score, Harry Stradling was set as the cinematographer, and locations were being scouted in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A mid-Aug 1942 HR news items noted that John Carradine had been added to the cast of the production, which was to be shot in Technicolor, and that George Sanders was being sought for a role. However, one week later, on 21 Aug 1942, HR announced that Kim had been "postponed" due to script difficulties. The Feb 1949 NYT article notes that the project was shelved in 1942 "at the 'suggestion' of the Office of War Information because of its imperialistic and 'white supremacy' implications."
       Plans to film the novel were revived in Jan 1949, when M-G-M put the project back on its production schedule and announced that Dean Stockwell would play the title role. News items in NYT relate the following information about the production: Gordon used much of the scenario he had written in 1942, though some changes were made to play down the political aspects of the novel. Filming began on 5 Dec 1949 at the St. Xavier school in Luckinow, India. The M-G-M unit remained in India until mid-Jan 1950, shooting mostly exteriors. Only a few of the cast members traveled to India. According to a Jan 1951 article in HCN , M-G-M did not send Stockwell to India because of his young age and the possibility that the trip would endanger his health. Instead, a young Indian boy was used as a double for Stockwell. The double appeared at a distance or with his back to the camera, and his shots were later intercut with footage of Stockwell that was filmed in Hollywood. In addition to the Luckinow location, filming also took place at Lahore, Pakistan, and on the great trunk road in Rajputana, India. After a one-month break in production, shooting resumed in Hollywood on 16 Feb 1950.
       According to a 20 Oct 1949 HR news item, Errol Flynn was to receive $200,000 for his performance as "Red Beard." A Jan 1950 news item in DV lists Yvette Duguay in the cast, but her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Although Jeanette Nolan is credited in the CBCS with the role "Foster mother," she did not appear in the released film. In the modern interview, Saville recalled the following facts about the production: After meeting with the Indian ambassador in 1942, Saville advised M-G-M that it would be impossible to do the film in the political climate at the time. Flynn and Paul Lukas were the only stars flown to India for the shooting there. The Sierra Nevada Mountains were used for the mountain backgrounds instead of the Himalayas, which proved too large to capture on film. Saville estimated that the final cost of the exterior shooting was $130,000. Kim received mixed notices when it was released in 1950, but earned Box Office 's Blue Ribbon Award. Flynn and Dean Stockwell recreated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 18 Feb 1952. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 Dec 1950.
---
Daily Variety
20 Oct 49
p. 2.
Daily Variety
5 Dec 49
p. 3.
Daily Variety
9 Dec 49
p. 10.
Daily Variety
18 Jan 50
p. 8.
Daily Variety
19 Jan 50
p. 8.
Daily Variety
14 Feb 50
p. 4.
Daily Variety
5 Dec 50
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Sep 1935.
---
Film Daily
6 Dec 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Citizen-News
26 Jan 1951.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jan 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 42
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jul 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 42
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 42
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 49
p. 1, 11
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 49
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 50
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 50
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
25 Sep 1935.
---
Motion Picture Daily
30 Sep 1935.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Dec 50
pp. 605-06.
New York Times
6 Feb 1949.
---
New York Times
11 Dec 1949.
---
New York Times
8 Dec 50
p. 40.
The Washington Times
22 Apr 1937.
---
Variety
6 Dec 50
p. 15.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Rod Redwing
Movita Castañeda
Adeline deWalt Reynolds
William McCormick
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Assoc
Assoc
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Montage seq
MAKEUP
Hair styles des by
Hairstylist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Prod mgr
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Kim by Rudyard Kipling (New York, 1901).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Rudyard Kipling's Kim
Release Date:
26 January 1951
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 7 December 1950
Production Date:
5 December 1949--mid January 1950
16 February--late April 1950
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
29 November 1950
Copyright Number:
LP560
Duration(in mins):
112-113
Length(in feet):
10,130
Countries:
India, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14535
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In 1885, in Lahour, India, Kim, a young, white street orphan, survives by begging and stealing while dressed like a native. One night, Kim delivers a message to the beautiful Laluli from Mahbub Ali, or "Red Beard," a spy for the British Secret Service who is posing as a horse trader. Through Kim, the womanizing Red Beard asks Laluli to meet him the following evening and she gladly accepts. Unknown to Kim, Laluli is plotting with Hassan Bey and other Russian-backed rebels who have been trying to foment war with the British-run Indian government, and plans to steal a document from Red Beard, which shows the five points at which the rebels plan to attack the English Army. The next day, on the street, Kim notices an oddly dressed priest and, curious, asks him about his background. After the elderly man reveals that he is a lama from Tibet on a mission to find the "River of the Arrow," Kim offers to beg for him as his "chela," or disciple. Kim then admits that just before dying, his father predicted that Kim would find a "red bull on a green field." The lama suggests that Kim journey with him to Ambala to search for the red bull, and although Kim is intrigued by the holy man, he tells Red Beard that he would rather travel with him to Benares. Red Beard, however, convinces Kim to go with the lama and deliver the rebels' document to Colonel Creighton, the English leader of the Secret Service operation, which has been dubbed "The Great Game." That night, Red Beard, guessing Laluli's scheme, pretends to pass ... +


In 1885, in Lahour, India, Kim, a young, white street orphan, survives by begging and stealing while dressed like a native. One night, Kim delivers a message to the beautiful Laluli from Mahbub Ali, or "Red Beard," a spy for the British Secret Service who is posing as a horse trader. Through Kim, the womanizing Red Beard asks Laluli to meet him the following evening and she gladly accepts. Unknown to Kim, Laluli is plotting with Hassan Bey and other Russian-backed rebels who have been trying to foment war with the British-run Indian government, and plans to steal a document from Red Beard, which shows the five points at which the rebels plan to attack the English Army. The next day, on the street, Kim notices an oddly dressed priest and, curious, asks him about his background. After the elderly man reveals that he is a lama from Tibet on a mission to find the "River of the Arrow," Kim offers to beg for him as his "chela," or disciple. Kim then admits that just before dying, his father predicted that Kim would find a "red bull on a green field." The lama suggests that Kim journey with him to Ambala to search for the red bull, and although Kim is intrigued by the holy man, he tells Red Beard that he would rather travel with him to Benares. Red Beard, however, convinces Kim to go with the lama and deliver the rebels' document to Colonel Creighton, the English leader of the Secret Service operation, which has been dubbed "The Great Game." That night, Red Beard, guessing Laluli's scheme, pretends to pass out from drink and spies on her and Hassan Bey as they search his belongings for the document. The next day, after traveling with the lama by train to Ambala, Kim delivers the paper to Creighton, who has learned from English spies Huree Chunder and Lurgan Sahib that the rebels are about to attack. Kim then continues his journey with the gentle lama and becomes a genuine disciple. Eventually, the two come upon Creighton's troops, whose flag consists of a red bull painted against a green background. Realizing that his father's prediction has come true, Kim approaches Father Victor, a priest attached to the unit, and shows him his birth certificate, which he has carried with him since his father's death. Father Victor identifies Kim as the son of Kimball O'Hara, a soldier he once knew, and the lama is startled to learn that Kim is a "sahib," or white person. Although the lama insists that Kim must now be with "his own people," he pledges to pay Kim's way through St. Xavier, the best English military school in India. Creighton, however, sends Kim to an orphanage school in Ambala, where Kim quickly grows bored and escapes with the help of Red Beard. Red Beard then delivers Kim to Creighton, whose troops have scared off the rebels, and to the colonel's surprise, the promised tuition check arrives from the lama. After a brief reunion with the lama, Kim enrolls in St. Xavier, and there struggles to learn the strict rules of white military society. As soon as summer arrives, Kim sneaks off to Red Beard's camp and discovers Hassan Bey posing as a beggar. Kim then overhears the rebel plotting with Red Beard's head man, Abul, to assassinate Red Beard. Kim manages to warn Red Beard about the plot, and the rebels are executed. Now schooled in the brutality of Red Beard's world, Kim is sent to Lurgan, who instructs him in various spy techniques, including how to avoid being hypnotized. Soon, Kim is asked to deliver a message from Huree, who is being followed by three rebel spies, to Creighton. Eluding the spies, Kim safely delivers the message, in which Huree warns that two Russians posing as geologists are collecting military data in the Khyber Pass, and is entrusted with Creighton's reply. When Kim arrives at the rendezvous spot, however, he finds Huree dead and flees. Two weeks later, Red Beard, posing as a goat herder, shows up at Russians' camp in the Khyber Pass and is surprised to find Kim and the lama there. Kim has ingratiated himself with the Russians and encouraged them to believe that the lama, who is still searching for the River of the Arrow, is demented. After Kim surreptitiously informs Red Beard that he has located the Russians' maps and data, which Huree was to steal, an Indian emissary arrives at the camp. The emissary quickly becomes suspicious of Kim and attempts to hypnotize him. Recalling Lurgan's lessons, Kim resists, but his mental strength only serves to convince the emissary that he is indeed a spy. The emissary beats the lama and tries to torture information out of Kim, but Red Beard sneaks up on him and kills him. Red Beard then holds the Russians at gunpoint, but after Kim discovers that a group of rebels is nearby, the Russians overwhelm Red Beard and rush to warn their comrades. With Kim's help, Red Beard manages to stop the Russians and causes a rockslide, which wipes out the approaching rebels. Later, Kim tearfully apologizes to the wounded lama for using him, but the holy man assures his disciple that everything has happened for a reason. Then, after advising Kim to pursue a non-violent path, the lama takes a few stumbling steps and has a vision of a beautiful river. Declaring that he has found the River of the Arrow, the lama collapses in the dry mountain terrain and dies. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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