The Stalking Moon and Phantom Empires. Be sure to check out the many interesting links at the Day One Roundup and additional roundups throughout the next few days.
KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES is set at a British outpost in India in 1857, "the one hundredth year of British rule," as noted in an opening narrative card. A ball held in honor of Queen Victoria's birthday figures prominently in the plotline.
Captain Alan King (Tyrone Power) arrives to serve under Brigadier General Maitland (Michael Rennie), but soon finds himself ostracized by some of his fellow officers due to his half-caste status; King's father was a British officer who had also served in India, while his mother was a local Indian woman.
King must ultimately lead a regiment of Indians, the Khyber Rifles, into battle against his foster brother Karram Khan (the enjoyably wicked Guy Rolfe), who has been fomenting unrest among the natives and killing British soldiers.
The movie's chief attribute is Tyrone Power, who is terrific in just about anything, and he's backed by solid talents including the great cinematographer Leon Shamroy, who shot the film in CinemaScope, and composer Bernard Herrmann. Herrmann contributes a stirring opening credits theme which sounds very Herrmann-esque indeed. The director was Power's frequent collaborator, Henry King.
Unfortunately Moore, making no attempt at a British accent, is miscast as a British commanding officer's daughter; she's charming in the right material (see SHACK OUT ON 101) but as one reviewer wrote at IMDb, she plays the role with "the sunny demeanor of a USC cheerleader."
As was the case with GUNGA DIN (1939) over a decade previously, the Alabama Hills outside Lone Pine, California, stand in for India.
BRIGHAM YOUNG (1940) and RAWHIDE (1951), and is said to have been a popular visitor in the little Sierra town, where he mingled with the local citizens and was generally perceived as an all-around nice guy. The Tyrone Power website features a reprint of a publicity article with Power commenting on Lone Pine.
One of the film's problems is that it seems to have been very windy during much of the film's location shooting, resulting in the need to loop in dialogue later. The voices at times noticeably seem to be speaking from an echo chamber, which is a bit distracting, particularly when the dubbed lines are intermingled with "live" dialogue. It's rare for something like this to be such a noticeable issue.
This 100-minute film was written by Ben Goff and Ivan Roberts, inspired by a novel by Talbot Mundy and a story by Harry Kleiner.
KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES is not available on VHS, DVD, or Blu-ray. Perhaps at some point it will follow Power's PONY SOLDIER (1952) and be released on Blu-ray by Twilight Time. I was able to see it thanks to Fox Movie Channel, but I would enjoy seeing a better print one day. At this writing the movie is also available on YouTube.
Thanks to Jeff and Clayton for hosting this blogathon and inspiring me to finally catch up with another Tyrone Power movie!