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June 1995, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
BRIAN TAVES <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 5 Jun 1995 13:23:13 EST
text/plain (48 lines)
          A footnote to some of the interesting contributions David Desser,
          Jeremy Butler, and others have made to  the thread on interracial
          romance ....
          One variation on the idea of  a romance between a white woman and
          a  man  "of color", earlier than  most mentioned, was depicted in
          the  1953 colonial adventure, KING  OF  THE KHYBER RIFLES. Tyrone
          Power  played  a half-caste officer (mother Indian, father white)
          in British India at  the time of  the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. White
          officers habitually refuse  to  share  their quarters  with  him,
          causing the commander's daughter (Terry Moore)  at  the  fort  to
          resent the unfairness and start to  fall  in  love with Power. He
          and  his native troops save  the  fort after the whites fail, and
          Power is finally accepted by the British as  an officer and as  a
          future son-in-law.
          Actually, the interracial element of the plot was urged by Zanuck
          (and,  on  the  issue  of casting such roles,  Power  was  almost
          certain to be the lead considering his status at 20th C-Fox). For
          three years, different versions of  the screenplay went back  and
          forth on whether the  man  or woman would  be native to India. In
          the original book by Talbot Mundy, which was only related to  the
          1954 movie by title, there was a strong heroine of Russian-Indian
          background, with  a white British hero. This had been retained in
          1924 and 1929 films of the story.
          KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES was a major box-office success. One  of
          the several pictures made in  the  next year imitating it, BENGAL
          BRIGADE, also contained an inter-racial romance, although  it  is
          between an Englishman and  a native woman, and  is depicted as  a
          And, as  may  be inferred from  the  four examples cited already,
          inter-racial romance is  a  major  motif  in historical adventure
          Interestingly, the director of KING  OF  THE KHYBER RIFLES, Henry
          King, told  me  in  an interview that  he  found  the romance the
          intriguing part  of  the movie. A  year later King  also directed
          LOVE  IS  A  MANY-SPLENDORED  THING,  this  time  with  a  tragic
          love-affair between a  white man  and  an  Asian woman (played by
          Jennifer Jones, just as Tyrone Power was supposed to be Indian).
          Brian Taves
          Motion Picture-Broadcasting-Recorded Sound Div.
          Library of Congress
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