November 25, 2004

If a Great could do it...


While it seems more and more likely that the sole redeeming value of Oliver Stone's Alexander will be unintended ones, either comic relief or silent nostalgia (even worse, Slate reviewer David Edelstein says the film makes him pity Stone), perhaps it's worth recalling a movie now nearly 30 years old, The Man Who Would Be King, which, though only peripherally about Alexander, provoked (in me at least) more of a sense of wonder about the Macedonian than anything I've encountered before or since (even more than Plutarch's Life). Yes, there's crackpottery in the film -- the bit about the Masonic symbol is pure poppycock -- but the film is primarily a fiction, with no pretense to any kind of historical reality -- a ripping good yarn that through its sham history touches on a truth or two in its 120 odd minutes.

Posted by Ideofact at November 25, 2004 11:50 PM

Also one of my favorite films of all time. The Carnegie Hall Cinema in NYC, back in the Seventies, like to run it as a double feature with The Wind and The Lion, and I saw it that way on more than one occasion; I venture to say it is the Best Sean Connery Double Feature Ever. (Do you know all this trivia?)

And some fine dialogue: "Detriments you call us? Detriments? Well I want to remind you that it was detriments like us that built this bloody Empire AND the Izzat of the bloody Raj. Hats on."

"Billy Fish: He wants to know if you are gods.
Peachy Carnehan: Not gods - Englishmen. The next best thing."

There are quite a few articles on the web, by the way.

Posted by: Gary Farber at November 26, 2004 08:09 PM

That sounds like a great double feature.

I remember reading somewhere that Huston originally envisioned Gary Cooper and Humphrey Bogart in the roles of Dravot and Carnahan (or maybe it was the other way around?) -- an idea of how long he had to wait before he could finally make the film.

Posted by: Bill at November 29, 2004 12:06 PM