Stockwell is Little Kim
Knowing that they send white boys to school, Kim (Dean Stockwell), a young British orphan in India, masquerades as an Indian so that he can enjoy the freedom of living on the streets. That is until having joined up with a holy man (Paul Lukas) he is discovered and spotted as being the son of a British officer. Sent to a military orphanage and a private school Kim is unable to fit in and dislikes the rules he is forced to live by. Having managed to run away Kim returns to the streets where his ability to blend in makes him perfect to run messages for Mahbub Ali (Errol Flynn), a spy, as the British aim to prevent a revolution.
Oh to be a child in 1950 when I would have headed down the picture house on a Saturday morning and been enthralled by the adventures of little Kim in India. But sadly I wasn't born until the 70s and whilst I have a love of old cinema I feel that "Kim" whilst probably holding warm memories for those who watched it in 1950 as a child doesn't quite pack the same punch for those coming to it much later on in life. "Kim" is still for the most well made and features another good performance from the then young Dean Stockwell but it is slow and lacks energy to make it consistently attention grabbing.
Now I have never read Rudyard Kipling's original story from which "Kim" is adapted but I get the sense that the writers have drawn the story out in order to make a movie close to the 2 hour mark. If that is the case what they have done is slowed the story down so that whilst it is still entertaining some scenes end up adding little to the story. Then again there are plenty of amusing scenes which establish the character of young Kim such as when he uses a burr to cause a baby to cry as part of a scam to score himself and the holy man a feast. It is one of many amusing scenes which appeal to the young at heart because of its mischievous creativity. Yet there is just as much charm in the scenes where Kim seems protective and caring towards the holy man which makes him a more rounded character.
Aside from what is in truth a great performance from Dean Stockwell it is a case that I can understand and appreciate why for many "Kim" is a much loved movie. The colourful visuals especially of busy streets are still kind of impressive and the escapades of young Kim, especially when he sneaks around from building to building. But for me it is just lacking something, maybe energy to make it still an enthralling movie even if seeing Errol Flynn with red hair is quite a sight.
What this all boils down to is that "Kim" is one of those movies which didn't really do it for me but I can appreciate why those who watched it as children in 1950 might love it. But it does feature a fantastic performance from a young Dean Stockwell who actually brings some depth to the character of Kim.