The posters for Gunga Din promised much: 'Thrills for a thousand movies, plundered for one mighty show'. That show was a valentine to the British Raj, in which three sergeants (engagingly played by Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) defeat marauding hoards of 'natives' with the aid of their 'Uncle Tom' water bearer, Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe)[Plate VII]. Audiences loved it. Its racism notwithstanding, even an astute viewer like Bertolt Brecht confessed: 'My heart was touched ... f felt like applauding and laughed in all the right places'. 1 Outwardly the film had little to do with the United States. Most of the cast were British-born and its screenplay claimed to be 'from the poem by Rudyard Kipling' .2 Yet the film was neither British or faithful to Kipling, but solidly American: directed by George Stevens for RKO, with a screenplay by Oxford-educated Joel Sayre and Stevens's regular collaborator Fred Guiol.3
Cull, Nicholas J., America's Raj: Kipling, Masculinity and Empire, Kunapipi, 18(1), 1996.