AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Gunga Din
Director: George Stevens (Dir)
Release Date:   17 Feb 1939
Duration (in mins):  107, 115, 117 or 119
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Cast: Cary Grant  ([ Sergeant Archibald] Cutter)
  Victor McLaglen  ([Sergeant] MacChesney)
  Douglas Fairbanks Jr.  ([Sergeant Thomas] Ballantine)
 

Summary: At a British army post in India, native water carrier Gunga Din dreams of becoming a soldier. When the regiment learns that the telegraph wires to one of their outposts have been cut, Sergeants Cutter, MacChesney and Ballantine are sent to investigate. The three sergeants find the compound in the hands of a fiendish band of killers known as the Thugges, members of a fanatic religious order that worships the goddess Kali and has sworn to annihilate the British in India. The sergeants fend off the fanatics' attack, and upon their triumphant return to the post, Ballantine announces that he is foresaking the army to marry Emmy Stebbins and take a job in a tea company. His announcement is met with consternation by his pals, who immediately begin to scheme to keep their buddy in the service. Meanwhile, Gunga Din leads Cutter, who is obsessed with discovering hidden treasure, to a temple of gold, which, they discover, is the holy shrine of the Thugges. As he decoys the Thugges, Cutter sends Gunga Din to the post for reinforcements. MacChesney uses Cutter's dangerous position to trick Ballantine into reenlisting in the rescue mission, and the two ride out, leaving Ballantine's sweetheart behind. The sergeants have misunderstood Gunga Din however, and believing that Cutter is being held captive by priests, arrive with no reinforcements. Captured by the Thugges, the three sergeants watch helplessly as the Scottish troops march in to the fanatics' ambush. Then Gunga Din, imbued with the soldier's spirit, realizes his dream by sounding the bugle to warn the troops, heroically sacrificing his life for his sense of duty. Saved by Gunga Din's warning, the British defeat the Thugges. Later, Ballantine decides that his place is in the army, and Gunga Din is appointed a corporal in the British army and is buried with military honors. 

Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Director: George Stevens (Dir)
  Edward Killy (Asst dir)
  Dewey Starkey (Asst dir)
Producer: George Stevens (Prod)
Writer: Joel Sayre (Scr)
  Fred Guiol (Scr)
  Ben Hecht (Story)
  Charles MacArthur (Story)
  Anthony Veiller (Contr wrt)
  William Faulkner (Contr wrt)
  Lester Cohen (Contr wrt)
  John Cotton (Contr wrt)
  Vincent Lawrence (Contr wrt)
  Dudley Nichols (Contr wrt)

Subject Major: English in foreign countries
  Great Britain. Army
  India
  Religious cults
  Rescues
  Self-sacrifice
  Soldiers
 
Subject Minor: Bugles
  Burial
  Engagements
  Friendship
  Gold
  Massacres
  Sabotage
  Telegraph
  Temples
  Treasure

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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