Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
United Kingdom, 1938. London Film Productions. Scenario by adaptation by based on the story by Cinematography by Produced by Alexander Korda. Music by John Greenwood. Production Design by Vincent Korda. Costume Design by Rene Hubert. Film Editing by Henry Cornelius.
Passable adventure whose colour cinematography delights while its narrative is only mildly amusing. Sabu‘s natural charms are put to good use as the son of a murdered ruler who goes into hiding as a peasant while his evil usurping uncle (Raymond Massey in brownface) takes over the throne. Sabu befriends a Scottish drummer boy in the British regiment, wins the favour of an amiable officer (Roger Livesey) and incurs the delight of the officer’s kindly wife (Valerie Hobson). When Massey’s nefarious plans to massacre British officers begins to gain ground, Sabu joins the morally upright colonials in their effort to destroy his evil and put the rightful heir back on the throne. I won’t even begin to explore the sinister messages of a plot that equates Indian rebellion with terrorist evil, but I will say that it is not as fun a film as Elephant Boy was or Jungle Book would later be.
Venice Film Festival: In Competition