Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Man Who Would Be King (1975)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Man Who Would Be King (1975, UK)

In John Huston's revered and rollicking adventure film based upon the short story by Rudyard Kipling, with realistic site locations used for remote Kafiristan (in Afghanistan) - set at the turn of the century:

  • the tale regarding the camaraderie of two British adventurers seeking wealth: Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery) and Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine) who set out from Raj-ruled India
  • the battle scene in which Daniel pulled an arrow from his chest (without bleeding) because the arrow had struck his bandolier (his leather ammunition belt, under his clothing, stopped the arrow), giving the impression that he was immortal and a god - a direct descendant of Alexander the Great; he was convinced by Peachy that he should keep up the deception that he was a god, even though it was blasphemous: ("Supposing you was an ignorant Kafiri. Who would you rather follow, a god or a man? Now, we're here to conquer this country, ain't we? Well, with you as a god, it would take half the time and half the trouble.... Blaspheming is when you take his name in vain, God Almighty's"); after Daniel asked: ("What if they found out we was having them on?"), Peachy replied confidently: ("Why should they? We won't tell them")
  • the ritualistic wedding scene revealing Dravot's humanity and mortality when he received a bloody bite on the cheek from his bride-to-be Roxanne (Shakira Caine): ("The slut bit me") - causing an angry reaction and pursuit from the natives ("Not god, not devil, but man!") and Peachy's assessment: "The jig's up"; Dravot apologized to Peachy and asked for his forgiveness: ("Peachy, I'm heartily ashamed for gettin' you killed instead of goin' home rich like you deserve to, on account of me bein' so bleedin' high and bloody mighty! Can you forgive me?"); Peachy responded positively: ("That I can, and that I do, Danny. Free and full and without let or hindrance"), satisfying Dravot: ("Everything's all right, then")
Disastrous Wedding Scene
  • although they made a run for it, the two were caught and surrounded - and the courageous and resolute Daniel (wearing his crown) was forced to walk to the center of a rope bridge high above a canyon gorge; when the ropes were cut - he suffered a spectacular death scene, falling deep into the gorge while singing a few bars of the inspirational and stirring 1812 Irish hymn by Reginald Heber: "The Son of God Goes Forth to War": ("...A glorious band, the chosen few, On whom the spirit came. While valiant saints that hope they knew, And mocked the cross and flame. He met the tyrant's brandished steel, The lion's gory mane. He bowed his head, his death to feel, (the rope bridge was cut through, sending Daniel plummeting down) -- Who followed in his train?")
Daniel's Death Above Gorge
  • the final image of Daniel's severed head, still wearing the crown - presented by Peachy Carnehan to the Narrator/Kipling (Christopher Plummer) as confirmation of his tall tale - and revealing his identity as Peachy: ("And Peachy never let go of Daniel's head...You knew Danny, sir?...(Peachy reached in his bag) You knew most worshipful Brother, Daniel Dravot, Esquire. Well, he became the king of Kafiristan with a crown on his head. And that's all there is to tell. I'll be on my way now, sir. I've got urgent business in the South. I have to meet a man at Marwar Junction")

Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine)

Delusional and Arrogant Daniel Pronounced King

Last Scene - Daniel's Severed Head with Crown Presented to Kipling by Peachy


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z