Cast & Crew
Roy Kenner, an American seafarer whose partner was murdered in Singapore, arrives in Bombay to search for the killer, dope smuggler Tom Jordan. While combing the city, Kenner is befriended by 9-year-old Saji, a native boy desperate to find his American father, unaware that the man abandoned his mother without ever marrying her. When Kenner is drugged by Jordan's associate, Henderson, and is being led to two waiting killers, Saji inadvertently causes a distraction that diverts Kenner. As a result, the narcotic has become ineffective by the time Kenner reaches his boat; and he is able to outwit Jordan, Henderson, and the two henchmen by diving overboard and remaining underwater until his would-be assassins are convinced that he has drowned. As Kenner surfaces, Saji and his mother, Anasuya, a Hindu entertainer, arrive and bring him to their house to recuperate. There, love develops between Anasuya and Kenner, while Saji gradually begins to look upon Kenner as his father. But tragedy strikes: Kenner chases Jordan through a railroad yard, and Anasuya, who has been following them, is killed by an oncoming train. After the funeral, Kenner learns that Jordan is a lover of cricket fights, and he uses Saji's pet insect to gain admittance to the secret place where the matches are held. Once they are inside, Saji is compelled to enter his cricket in a contest and then cannot bring himself to leave his pet when Kenner chases Jordan out of the place and engages him in a death struggle atop a building. When Saji's cricket is victorious, the boy runs out and discovers that Kenner has also won his battle with Jordan. At last Saji finds a father; Kenner takes the boy back to the United States with him.
R. P. Wright
G. S. Aasie
Government Of India
Mary Phillips Murray
Mary Phillips Murray
Ruediger Von Sperle
The story has its heartstring-tugging elements, namely Brown's relationship with a fatherless child and his beautiful Hindu mother, but the film is mostly an excuse for chases and fight scenes, some of them well staged in the exotic Indian locations. But director Steve Sekely's effective handling of the action does not disguise the threadbare quality of the production.
Sekely was a Hungarian-born journalist and writer who made his directorial debut in 1930 in Germany, where he worked for much of the following decade until he moved to the U.S., releasing his first Hollywood film in 1939. His career was limited to low-budget pictures mostly for Poverty Row studios, but just prior to this film he made what has become a classic of the sci-fi genre, The Day of the Triffids (1963) in England. Approaching 70, he next completed Kenner before returning to Hungary for one last project.
Despite being rather overexposed at the time (seven pictures released between June 1967 and March 1969), Brown emerged from this disappointing effort to become a sought-after star, becoming a leading player in the "Blaxploitation" genre of the early 1970s in ...tick...tick...tick... (1970), Slaughter (1972) and Black Gunn (1972), among others.
Hollywood may have been breaking down some racial divisions by casting Brown in leading roles and, controversially, having him romance actresses like Raquel Welch and Jacqueline Bisset, but not far enough ahead of the curve in Kenner, when they cast American actress Madlyn Rhue as Brown's Indian love interest, in skin-darkening make-up, no less.
Behind the scenes, however, race was not an issue. Indian-born Ram Yedekar handled the art direction, as he did later for the India-set films Gandhi (1982), Heat and Dust (1983) and A Passage to India (1984). Prem Dhawan, who studied under musician Ravi Shankar, shared music composing credits with award-winning Italian composer Piero Piccioni.
The original on-screen writing credit listed Harold Clemins and John Loring, a pseudonym for Robert L. Richards, a Writer's Guild nominee for the screenplay of Anthony Mann's Winchester '73 (1950), the classic Western starring James Stewart. Richards was blacklisted in the early 1950s for his leftist views but he kept writing under various false names for television and film before eventually becoming a carpenter. He retired to Mexico before he had the chance to see his real name restored to his numerous credits. Kenner was his last picture.
Director: Steve Sekely
Producer: Mary P. Murray
Screenplay: Harold Clemins, Robert L. Richards; story by Mary P. Murray
Cinematography: Dieter Liphardt
Editing: Richard Haermance
Art Direction: Ram Yedekar
Music: Prem Dhawan, Piero Piccioni
Cast: Jim Brown (Roy Kenner), Madlyn Rhue (Anasuya), Robert Coote (Henderson), Ricky Cordell (Saji), Charles Horvath (Tom Jordan)
By Rob Nixon
The working title for the film was Year of the Cricket. Although John Loring was given co-credit for the screenplay when the film was initially released, according to official WGA records, Loring was a pseudonym for writer Robert L. Richards. The WGA changed the screenplay credit to read: "Screenplay by Robert L. Richards and Harold Clemins. Story by Mary P. Murray." Kenner was filmed on location in Bombay, India.