King of the Khyber Rifles is a 1953 adventure film directed by Henry King and starring Tyrone Power and Terry Moore.
The film shares its title but little else with the novel King of the Khyber Rifles (1916) by Talbot Mundy. This novel was also the basis for John Ford’s The Black Watch (1929). The Khyber Pass scenes were shot in the Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California. Released by 20th Century Fox, the film was one of the first shot in Technicolor CinemaScope.
In 1857, freshly-arrived Sandhurst-trained Captain Alan King, survives an attack on his escort to his North-West Frontier Province garrison near the Khyber Pass because of Ahmed, a native Afridi deserter from the Muslim fanatic rebel Karram Khan’s forces. King was born locally and speaks Pashto. As soon as his fellow officers learn that his mother was a native Muslim (which got his parents disowned even by their own families), he encounters prejudiced discrimination, including Lieutenant Geoffrey Heath moving out of their quarters.
Brigadier General J. R. Maitland, whose policy is full equality among whites, learns that King knew Karram Khan as a boy and charges him with training and commanding the native cavalry. The general’s daughter, Susan Maitland, takes a fancy to Alan, and falls in love, but the general decides to send her home to England after a kidnap attempt which was foiled by King. King volunteers to engage Karram Khan, the only man who can bring the normally divided local tribes together in revolt, pretending to have deserted.
- Tyrone Power as Captain Alan King.
- Terry Moore as Susan Maitland.
- Michael Rennie as Brigadier General J. R. Maitland.
- John Justin as Lieutenant Geoffrey Heath.
- Guy Rolfe as Karram Khan.
- Richard Wyler as Lieutenant Ben Baird.
- Murray Matheson as Major Ian MacAllister.
- Frank DeKova as Ali Nur.
- Argentina Brunetti as Lali.
- Sujata as Native dancer.
- Frank Lacteen as Ahmed.
- Gavin Muir as Major Lee.
- John Farrow as Corporal Stuart.
Fox announced plans to remake the film in 1938. They were going to make it with Richard Greene or Victor McLaglen, but plans were pushed back because of the start of World War Two.
In 1951 the project was reactivated as a vehicle for Tyrone Power. Walter Doniger was to write the script and Frank Rosenberg was to produce. By December Henry Hathaway was listed as director.
In January 1953 Fox announced the film would be one of a series of “super specials” the studio would make in CinemaScope.
In April 1953 Henry King was given the job of directing and Power was confirmed as star. Guy Rolfe signed in June.
Filming started 14 July in Lone Pine, California. During filming, 22 people were injured when an explosion went off with more force than anticipated.
- Tyrone Power was widely considered too old for his character, as well as unconvincing as an officer in the British army.
- Average Shot Length (ASL) = 13.5 seconds.
Production & Filming Details
- Henry King.
- Frank P. Rosenberg … producer.
- Ivan Goff … (screenplay).
- Ben Roberts … (screenplay).
- Harry Kleiner … (story).
- Talbot Mundy … (novel).
- Bernard Herrmann.
- Leon Shamroy … director of photography.
- Barbara McLean.
- Twentieth Century Fox (presents) (as Twentieth Century-Fox).
- Twentieth Century Fox (1953) (USA) (theatrical) (released by).
- Twentieth Century Fox Film Company (1954) (UK) (theatrical).
- Twentieth Century Fox (1954) (Belgium) (theatrical).
- Twentieth Century Fox (1954) (France) (theatrical).
- Centfox (1954) (West Germany) (theatrical).
- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1955) (Austria) (theatrical).
- Pegasus Entertainment (2013) (UK) (video).
- SFM Entertainment (1982) (USA) (TV).
- Release Date: 22 December 1953 (New York City, US) (Premiere).
- Rating: U.
- Running Time: 100 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.