I remember finding a copy of the novel Kim in my home when I was a kid. Not knowing much about colonial India at the time some of the references were obscure to me. But the story was engaging. Many years later I saw the motion picture and enjoyed the story all over again. Errol Flynn and Dean Stockwell carry most of this movie on their shoulders with Stockwell as the title character, an orphan son of a British soldier living as a native boy in the streets of India and Flynn as a spy for the British Intelligence Office known as Mahbub Ali, The Red Beard. And in the Flynn’s affable relationship with the boy, it reminds me of his performance in the 1937 movie “The Prince and the Pauper” where his character befriends and ultimately saves the Prince of Wales from his misadventures.
This story is a cloak and dagger spy story of the “The Great Game” between England and Russia in Asia and also a coming-of-age story for the boy. He discovers his roots and makes some valuable friends. He learns different lessons about himself from sources as different as a Tibetan Lama and a British Intelligence Officer.
And along the way he shows himself to be brave, resourceful and reliable to all those he befriends. The story is one of Kipling’s best and has a fantasy feel to it that belies the 19th century time frame it exists in. Stockwell and Flynn and the supporting cast are excellent in this tale and it is a throwback to the 1930s and 40s when movies of this sort were more common. And the portrayal of life in colonial India with Europeans enjoying their white privilege would be completely unacceptable to woke viewers so of course knowing it would outrage those losers makes it that much more amusing to watch.
Read the book if you haven’t and then watch the movie. Both are highly recommended.