This rousing adventure, a remake of John Ford's THE BLACK WATCH, was given the full treatment by Fox, which made this early CinemaScope epic its major Christmas release. Power stars as Capt. Alan King, a half-caste who leads a supply column to the British outpost at Peshawar, India. On
the trail his unit is ambushed by rebellious Afridi tribesmen led by Karram Khan (Rolfe), a childhood friend of King's. The soldiers fend off the attack and make it to Peshawar where they are greeted by garrison commander Maitland (Rennie) and his daughter Susan (Moore). Alan and Susan are
mutually turned on, leading to a rivalry with Alan's roomie, Lt. Geoffrey Heath (Justin).
Heath's attempt to spread bigotry amidst the officers by revealing King as a half-caste doesn't cut much professional mustard with Maitland, but it does make him pull a Romeo and Juliet on Susan. Alan's helping to save Susan from kidnappers only increases their hormone flow, however, and, on an
endorphin high, King decides to infiltrate Khan's ranks and kill his former friend.
Ace director Henry King, once praised by Eisenstein himself and whose work resembles that of John Ford, has been sadly neglected by film historians obsessed by Ford. KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES is a marvelously entertaining film helmed with energy and flair. Power was getting a little long in the
tooth to be playing these roles, and he's not completely convincing as a half-caste, but he still performs with likable dash. Rolfe is properly menacing as the villainous Khan, and Rennie is properly proper as the British general. Largely shot on a California backlot, KING has good second-unit
Himalayan footage to enhance the film's look. The bigotry angle, though not really explored in depth, is one of the more interesting aspects of this enjoyable adventure yarn.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This rousing adventure, a remake of John Ford's THE BLACK WATCH, was given the full treatment by Fox, which made this early CinemaScope epic its major Christmas release. Power stars as Capt. Alan King, a half-caste who leads a supply column to the British… (more)