Only an audience can give validity to a film, and as a filmmaker you are constantly searching for this community of acceptance. There's nothing quite as unresponsive as a white sheet at the far end of an auditorium in front of an arrangement of chairs. The audience gives a film credence, they draw from their knowledge to determine whether what they're watching is valid. There is always that moment of truth when you've finally put the film together, and you're running it in a theater and being subjected to what could be the very unfriendly scrutiny of the audience. Sometimes you discover they're with you, and that's great pleasure. And also during that voyage of discovery you're finding where you're sailing a different course from the audience, a lesson that's not to be forgotten. ~Gunga Din Director George Stevens
Based loosely on the poem by Rudyard Kipling, this takes place in British India during the Thuggee uprising. Three fun loving sergeants are doing fine until one of them wants to get married and leave the service. The other two trick him into a final mission where they end up confronting the entire cult by themselves as the British Army is entering a trap. This is of the "War is fun" school of movie making. It has the flavour of watching Notre Dame play an inferior high school team.
Barbaric Splendor - Gasping Magnitude - Adventure !
Inspired by Rudyard Kipling's Heroic Lines
Out of the stirring glory of Kipling's seething world of battle they roar--red-blood and gunowder heroes all!...
Swaggering sons of battle!
The "bridge over the deep chasm" scene where Annie, the elephant, shakes a rope bridge trying to cross was actually filmed on a bridge 8 feet off the ground. The background was a realistic painting of a chasm.
The battle between the Thuggees and the British Indian army was added when RKO considered the ending too bland.
Originally, Grant and Fairbanks were assigned each other's role; Grant was to be the one leaving the army to marry Joan Fontaine's character, and Fairbanks the happy-go-lucky treasure hunter. Grant wanted to switch; the producers relented and the actors were more appropriately recast.
Howard Hawks was the original director, but was fired from the project after his previous film, Bringing Up Baby (1938), was a box office bomb.
When Sgt. Cutter (Cary Grant) receives an invitation for Sgt. Ballantine's wedding, Cutter expresses his dissatisfaction with his first name, Archibald - Grant's real first name.
Budgeted at $1.915 million, this was the most expensive film RKO had produced to date.
Sgt. Archibald Cutter: You're mad!
Guru: Mad? Mad. Hannibal was mad, Caesar was mad, and Napoleon surely was the maddest of the lot. Ever since time began, they've called mad all the great soldiers in this world. Mad? We shall see what wisdom lies within my madness. For this is but the spring that precedes the flood. From here we roll on. From village to town. From town to mighty city. Ever mounting, ever widening, until at last my wave engulfs all India!
Sgt. Archibald Cutter: Now get me some tools. Something to rip these blinking bars out.
Gunga Din: Already bring all tools could find. Is this satisfactory, sahib?
[holds up a fork]
Sgt. Archibald Cutter: Look... What do you think I want to break out of - a bloomin' pudding? Now go on, get something big.
[Din returns with an elephant]
Sgt. Archibald Cutter: What are you doing, Din?
Gunga Din: The large tool you asked for, sahib.
[Sgt. Cutter confronts the Thugs in their stronghold]
Sgt. Archibald Cutter: Well if it ain't young toadface. Fancy meeting you here.
Guru: Vile dog! For that insolence you shall grovel before my son. You shall grovel, I say!
Sgt. Archibald Cutter: Look here! I'm a soldier of her Majesty, the Queen. I don't grovel before any 'eathen.
Bonus-- The Quotable Cary Grant:
"Everyone wants to be Cary Grant; even I want to be Cary Grant."
Visiting his agent Grant intercepted a telegram from a journalist writing a profile asking "How Old Cary Grant?" Grant sent a reply saying "Old Cary Grant fine, how you?".
"I probably chose my profession because I was seeking approval, adulation, admiration and affection."
[Following his failed marriage to Barbara Hutton]: "She thought that she was marrying Cary Grant."
Cary Grant receives his only Oscar, an honorary Oscar (1970).