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Welcome to the Museum of Western Film History

Explore, the museum's extensive collection of real movie costumes, movie cars, props, posters, and other memorabilia. This collection tells the story of filming in the area in and around Lone Pine from the early days of the Round Up to the modern blockbusters of today such as Iron Man. While you're here, don't forget to make the short trip up Whitney Portal Road and take the Self-Guided Tour of Movie Road and get a first hand look at real shooting locations of a great many motion pictures filmed in the beautiful Alabama Hills

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Gunga_Din_Lobby_CardGunga Din is a 1939 RKO adventure film directed by George Stevens and starring Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., loosely based on the poem of the same name by Rudyard Kipling combined with elements of his short story collection Soldiers Three. The film is about three British sergeants and Gunga Din, their native bhisti (water bearer), who fight the Thuggee, a cult of murderous Indians in colonial British India.

The supporting cast features Joan Fontaine, Eduardo Ciannelli, and, in the title role, Sam Jaffe. The epic film was written by Joel Sayre and Fred Guiol from a storyline by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, with uncredited contributions by Lester Cohen, John Colton, William Faulkner, Vincent Lawrence, Dudley Nichols and Anthony Veiller .


On the Northwest Frontier of India, circa 1880, contact has been lost with a British outpost at Tantrapur in the midst of a telegraph message. Colonel Weed (Montagu Love) dispatches a detachment of 25 British Indian Army troops to investigate, led by three sergeants of the Royal Engineers, MacChesney (Victor McLaglen), Cutter (Cary Grant), and Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), long-time friends and veteran campaigners. Although they are a disciplinary headache for their colonel, they are the right men to send on a dangerous mission. Accompanying the detail are six Indian camp workers, including regimental bhisti Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe), who longs to throw off his lowly status and become a soldier of the Queen.

They find Tantrapur apparently deserted and set about repairing the telegraph. However, they are soon surrounded by hostile natives. The troops fight their way out. Colonel Weed and Major Mitchell (Lumsden Hare) identify an enemy weapon brought back as belonging to the Thuggee, a murderous cult that had been suppressed for many years. Exhibit_Click_Here_2

Ballantine is due to leave the army in a few days to wed Emmy Stebbins (Joan Fontaine) and go into the tea business, a combined calamity that MacChesney and Cutter consider worse than death. Meanwhile, Gunga Din tells Cutter of a temple he has found, one made of gold. Cutter is determined to make his fortune, but MacChesney will have none of it and has Cutter put in the stockade to prevent his desertion. That night, Cutter escapes with Din's help and goes to the temple, which is all that Din had claimed. Unfortunately, they discover that it belongs to the Thugs when the owners return. Cutter creates a distraction and allows himself to be captured so that Din can slip away and sound the warning.

When Din gives MacChesney the news, he decides to go to the rescue. Ballantine wants to go too, but MacChesney points out that he cannot, as he is now a civilian. Ballantine reluctantly agrees to re-enlist, on the understanding that the enlistment paper will be torn up after the rescue. Emmy tries to dissuade him from going, but he refuses to desert his friends.

Due to miscommunication between Din and MacChesney, the trio foolishly enter the temple by themselves and are easily captured. They manage to free themselves and take the fanatical guru of the cultists (Eduardo Ciannelli) hostage on the roof of the temple. A standoff ensues.

When the regiment comes to the rescue, the guru boasts that they are marching into the trap he has set, with the three sergeants as bait. He orders his men to take their positions, but when he sees that they are unwilling to leave him in enemy hands, he leaps to his death in a pit full of cobras to remove that obstacle. Thugs then climb the temple and overwhelm the soldiers, shoot and bayonet Cutter. Gunga Din is also bayoneted, but manages with the last of his strength to climb to the top of the gold dome of the temple and sound the alarm with a bugle taken from a dead Thug. He is then shot dead, but the British force is alerted and defeats the Thuggee forces. At Din's funeral pyre, the colonel formally inducts Gunga Din as a British corporal and reads the last lines of the Kipling poem over the body. (Some edited versions of the film omit the four italicised lines which presumably offended against the American Hays code of censorship)… Wikipedia

Though the picture draws heavily on the Ballads for atmosphere and inspiration, and doesn't scruple to use Kipling himself, the brilliantly talented young war correspondent, as a minor character (it seems he dashed off the famous poem in time for the Commandant to read it over the water carrier's grave), the only historical or literary authority for it seems to have been an original story by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. In this case, "original" may be taken to signify that the story is quite unlike other predecessors in the same genre, except possibly The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, Beau Geste, The Lost Patrol, and Charge of the Light Brigade. The parallels—some of them doubtless unavoidable—may be charitably excused on the ground that two memories are better than one.

Gunga Din the Poem by Rupyard Kipling

When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
But when it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.

Listen to Gunga Din Poem by
Tom O'Brien and to the
musical equivilent of Rudyard
Kipling's classic poem
performed with panache
by Jim Croce
See bottom of this page 

Now in Injia's sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them blackfaced crew
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.
He was "Din! Din! Din!
You limpin' lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!
Hi! slippery hitherao!
Water, get it! Panee lao!
You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din."The uniform 'e wore
Was nothin' much before,
An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind,
For a piece o' twisty rag
An' a goatskin water-bag
Was all the field-equipment 'e could find.
When the sweatin' troop-train lay
In a sidin' through the day,
Where the 'eat would make your bloomin' eyebrows crawl,
We shouted "Harry By!"
Till our throats were bricky-dry,
Then we wopped 'im 'cause 'e couldn't serve us all.
It was "Din! Din! Din!
You 'eathen, where the mischief 'ave you been?
You put some juldee in it 
Or I'll marrow you this minute
If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!"'E would dot an' carry one
Till the longest day was done;
An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin' nut,
'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.
With 'is mussick on 'is back,
'E would skip with our attack,
An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire",
An' for all 'is dirty 'ide
'E was white, clear white, inside
When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!
It was "Din! Din! Din!"
With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.
When the cartridges ran out,
You could hear the front-files shout,
"Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"I shan't forgit the night
When I dropped be'ind the fight
With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been.
I was chokin' mad with thirst,
An' the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.
'E lifted up my 'ead,
An' he plugged me where I bled,
An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water-green:
It was crawlin' and it stunk,
But of all the drinks I've drunk,
I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
It was "Din! Din! Din!
'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen;
'E's chawin' up the ground,
An' 'e's kickin' all around:
For Gawd's sake git the water, Gunga Din!"'E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.
'E put me safe inside,
An' just before 'e died,
"I 'ope you liked your drink", sez Gunga Din.
So I'll meet 'im later on
At the place where 'e is gone --
Where it's always double drill and no canteen;
'E'll be squattin' on the coals
Givin' drink to poor damned souls,
An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
Yes, Din! Din! Din!
You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though I've belted you and flayed you,
By the livin' Gawd that made you,
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

The poem is a rhyming narrative from the point of view of an English soldier in India, about an Indian water-bearer (a "Bhishti") who saves the soldier's life but is soon shot and killed. In the final three lines, the soldier regrets the abuse he dealt to Din and admits that Din is the better man of the two for sacrificing his own life to save another. The poem was published as one of the set of martial poems called the Barrack-Room Ballads. In contrast to Kipling's later poem "The White Man's Burden," "Gunga Din" is named after the Indian, and portrays him as the hero while the English soldiers are portrayed as callous and shallow, and ultimately inferior to Gunga Din. Although "Din" is frequently pronounced to rhyme with "bin" /ˌɡʌŋɡə ˈdɪn/, the rhymes within the poem (as well as the pronunciation in the 1939 film) make it clear that it should be pronounced /ˈdin/ to rhyme with "green".

      Gunga Din by Rudyard Kipling - Read by Tom O'Brien

In Hindi, Gunga Din means "Spirit of the Ganges". British Tommies
are not noted for pronouncing foreign words correctly. In fact 
deliberate mispronunciation seems to amuse them more: they 
pronounced "Ypres" as "Wipers", and "India" as "Injia". Nevertheless 
I am grateful to those who have provided the correct native pronunciations
for the Hindi words. 

It seems superfluous these days for the poet to say that some of the 
people of India were brave and noble as any white man. This might 
seem condescending now but it was bold in its time. Gunga Din was
only a water carrier, but he played his part as bravely as any soldier,

      The Ballad of Gunga Din by Jim Croce


The musical equivilent of Rudyard Kipling's classic poem
performed with panache by Jim Croce. You can almost feel
bullets, the heat and the thirst. A great song by a great artist
with the theme from a great poet. This is a redo of a previous 
version to improve video and audio quality.

In the 70's, at the same time John Lennon was offering "Woman
is the
 Nigger of the World," Jim Croce decided to champion the
noble "heathen" named "Gunga Din," and put that poem to music.
Unable to perform in
  British dialect, Jim's version is slightly wan,
but at least he made the attempt. It's also rather softly sung
(no din in this Gunga). If Jim Croce, a minority
 group member
himself, didn't find "Gunga Din" offensive, maybe it's time to go
back and appreciate some Kipling. (It beats Twittering.) 
"Gunga Din" is one of the great story poems of all time, and
Kipling wrote some great things.



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