Gunga Din

Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen and Douglas Fairbanks Jr laughing

There’s a lot going on in Gunga Din, the high point of a certain kind of Hollywood film-making. Released in the golden era’s “annus mirabilis” of 1939, it’s an exotic, oriental white-man’s-burden kind of adventure adapted from a Rudyard Kipling story, but locked away in there something is grumbling away. All is not as it first appears. There are two main storylines, connected together by a familiar trio of bromantic soldiers – the lover (Douglas Fairbanks Jr), the joker (Cary Grant) and the fighter (Victor McLaglen) – three sergeants in Queen Victoria’s army in India sent out from their base to find out why the vital telegraph system keeps going down. It turns … Read more


Marlene Dietrich as Marie

Fritz Lang more or less invented the spy thriller with Spies (Spione in German) in 1928, but it didn’t take long before everyone wanted to be a secret agent. Here’s Marlene Dietrich’s tilt, in only her second US movie, playing a streetwalker recruited by the head of the Austrian Secret Service himself, set a little test, which she passes with full marks for pluck and patriotism, and is then put instantly to work rooting out a mole (as no one called them in those days) in the service. Dishonored’s plot is Le Carré-esque, or it would be if the doughty Marie hadn’t soon cracked the case and exposed the mole, using only her … Read more