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
Errol Flynn ... Mahbub Ali, the Red Beard
Dean Stockwell ... Kim
Paul Lukas ... Lama
Robert Douglas ... Colonel Creighton
Thomas Gomez ... Emissary
Cecil Kellaway ... Hurree Chunder
Arnold Moss ... Lurgan Sahib
Reginald Owen ... Father Victor
Laurette Luez ... Laluli
Richard Hale ... Hassan Bey - Narrator
Roman Toporow ... Russian
Ivan Triesault ... Russian
Director: Victor Saville
Runtime: 113 min
Color: Color (Technicolor)
Many of Errol Flynn's bad career moves, particularly later in life, could be blamed on advice given by 'friends' who were far more comfortable on bar stools than making decisions, but in choosing to make KIM, Flynn had no one to point at but himself.
For the second of a two-film commitment to MGM (following THAT FORSYTE WOMAN), Flynn was given a choice between two films. One would entail a long 'shoot' in Africa, with his role the central character of the film; the other would involve shorter location work, in India, with his role a supporting character, although he'd be top-billed. He opted for India, thus passing on one of MGM's biggest hits, KING SOLOMON'S MINES, with Stewart Granger achieving superstardom in the role Flynn turned down. While KIM was a pleasant enough film, it wasn't nearly the 'hit' of the African adventure, and did little to stem the 41-year old actor's fading career.
The story of an English orphan, Kim (portrayed by 14-year old future "Quantum Leap" star Dean Stockwell), living on the streets of India and passing as native, while serving as a spy for the Empire, the production focuses on his 'education' by a holy Lama on a quest (portrayed by an oddly-cast Paul Lukas), and his covert activities, with his 'contact' being a woman-chasing, free-living Afghan horse trader/agent (Flynn, sporting a red beard and gray hair, but, as usual, simply portraying a caricature of himself). Evil is afoot in the Khyber Pass, stirred up by Czarist Russians, and Kim's knowledge and survival skills would be tested, even as his future is being decided.
While the production was certainly 'family friendly', Victor Saville's direction often dragged, and the cast could not overcome the stodgy pacing. The location scenes in India were, however, beautiful in Technicolor, although the film's lead, Stockwell, never left California (due to his age). Despite occasional flare-ups of malaria, Flynn enjoyed his visit to the Far East, financed by MGM, and, with little responsibility for the film's success, and usually inebriated, his performance was high spirited, to say the least!
With his MGM commitment complete, Flynn, after a brief stop in Italy to make a minor semi-documentary about soldiers (HELLO, GOD), would return to 'B' movies at Warner Brothers, as his career continued to free-fall.