During the 1880s in India, a young orphan named Kim (Dean Stockwell) is employed by Mahbub Ali (Errol Flynn), an English spy who masquerades as a horse trader. Kim meets a Tibetan lama (Paul Lukas) and agrees to help him find a sacred river. When it is discovered that Kim has British ancestry in his blood, from his father, he is sent to school. Ali, however, is convinced that the boy has the makings of a great spy. Now educated and trained, Kim has a lot of responsibility thrust upon him.
Kim is a 1950 adventure film made in Technicolor by MGM. It was directed by Victor Saville and produced by Leon Gordon from a screenplay by Helen Deutsch, Leon Gordon and Richard Schayer, based on the classic novel of the same name by Rudyard Kipling.
The film starred Errol Flynn, Dean Stockwell, and Paul Lukas. The music score was by Andre Previn. The film was shot on location in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, India, as well as the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, California, due to its resemblance to the Khyber Pass. Of particular interest is the location filming at La Martiniere College in Lucknow.
Kim, a young boy living on his own on the streets of India, is actually the son of a British officer. He meets a lama, a holy man, and devotes himself to his tending. But when British administrators discover his birthright, he is placed in a British school. His nature, however, is opposed to the regimentation expected for the son of a British soldier, and he rebels. His familiarity with Indian life and his ability to pass as an Indian child allows him to function as a spy for the British as they attempt to thwart revolution and invasion of India. Rejoining his holy man, Kim (with the help of daring adventurer Mahbub Ali) takes on a dangerous mission.
Kim (Dean Stockwell), an orphan boy in 1885 India during the British Raj, works at times for his friend Mahbub Ali (Errol Flynn), a roguish horse trader who is also a secret agent for the British. Mahbub Ali becomes aware of a Russian-backed plot to instigate a rebellion.
Meanwhile, Kim encounters an elderly Buddhist lama (Paul Lukas) from Tibet, who is on a quest to find the "River of the Arrow", whose waters will cleanse him spiritually. Mahbub Ali has the young boy become the kindly priests "chela" or disciple so that he can deliver a message to Colonel Creighton (Robert Douglas), Mahbub Alis superior. On the journey along the Grand Trunk Road, the two travelers grow to love each other.
One day, British soldiers set up camp. Kim notices that their regimental flag depicts a red bull on a green field, which matches a prophecy left him by his now-deceased father, so he sneaks into the encampment and is accosted by a sentry. During a scuffle, his captors discover documents Kim possesses which show that he is actually the son of Kimball OHara, an Irish soldier who served in the regiment. The lama decides that Kim should go among his own kind to be educated (despite the boys resistance) and pays for his tuition at the finest school in India. The boy chafes at the many restrictions, but eventually settles down.
Mahbub Ali convinces Colonel Creighton, that the boy has the potential to become a wonderful spy; to that end, Kim receives extra training from Lurgan (Arnold Moss) during the first part of his summer vacation.
Later, Kim saves the life of Mahbub Ali. He is then reunited with his lama and sent to help Hurree Chunder (Cecil Kellaway) keep an eye on two Russian spies posing as surveyors. When he finds Chunder murdered, Kim continues the mission by persuading the Russians to hire him as their servant. He is eventually unmasked and the lama is beaten up. When news of Chunders death reaches the British, Mahbub Ali is sent to take his place; he rescues Kim and takes charge of the interlopers papers, but is forced to kill the Russians. In the end, the injured lama finds his river (at least in his own mind), stumbles to it, and dies contentedly.Errol Flynn as Mahbub Ali, the Red Beard
Dean Stockwell as Kim
Paul Lukas as Lama
Robert Douglas as Colonel Creighton
Thomas Gomez as Emissary
Cecil Kellaway as Hurree Chunder
Arnold Moss as Lurgan Sahib
Reginald Owen as Father Victor
Laurette Luez as Laluli
Richard Hale as Hassan Bey
Roman Toporow as The Russian
Ivan Triesault as The Russian
MGM originally announced the film in 1938 as a vehicle for Freddie Bartholomew and Robert Taylor but World War Two saw this put on hold.
In 1942 it was reactivated to star Mickey Rooney, Conrad Veidt (as Red Lama) and Basil Rathbone, from a script by Leon Gordon and produced by Victor Saville. However this was postponed out of fear of offending Indians and also war-time allies the Russians, who were the villains.
In 1948 the Indian government approved the film and the Cold War meant it was permissible to have Russian villains. In January 1949 the project was reactivated as a vehicle for MGMs child star Dean Stockwell. Errol Flynn was signed in September.
Paul Lukas and Flynn went to India but all scenes involving Dean Stockwell were shot in Hollywood. Flynn left for India in November after attending a Royal screening of That Forsythe Woman in London.
Locations used in the film included St Xaviers School in Lucknow, the horse market at the Kashmir Gates, Sirala, and the Himalayan foothills and the Khyber Pass. Doubles were used for Dean Stockwell and the characters of Huree Babu, Creighton Sahib and Lurgan Sahib (these hadnt been cast at the time of filming).
The unit returned to MGM in January 1950 to shoot the rest of the movie on the backlot.
The movie was successful at the box office: according to MGM records the movie earned $2,896,000 in the US and Canada and $2,465,000 overseas, making it one of the studios most popular films of the year. It was one of the most popular films at the French box office in 1951, with admissions of 2,514,860.
It made an overall profit of $1,064,000.
Rudyard Kipling wrote the story for Kim and Gunga Din. Rudyard Kipling wrote the story for Kim and Soldiers Three. Rudyard Kipling wrote the story for Kim and The Man Who Would Be King. The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935). Errol Flynn appears in Kim and Captain Blood.
Kim was presented on Lux Radio Theatre February 18, 1952. The one-hour adaptation featured Erroll Flynn and Dean Stockwell in their roles from the film.