Mostly available for viewing by way of a chopped-up print that was dumped onto home video in the ’80s, The Kashmiri Run, also known as Tibetana, was part of Pernell Roberts’ unsuccessful run at movie stardom following his departure from the huge TV hit Bonanza in 1965. Although The Kashmiri Run is shoddy, with a murky script and questionable supporting performances, the film provides Roberts with a good showcase as an international rogue somewhat in the Humphrey Bogart mold. A sarcastic American stranded in Tibet, Gregory Nelson (Roberts) makes a deal to escort another foreigner to the Indian border following China’s invasion of Tibet. Over the course of various misadventures, Gregory reveals the heroism beneath his gruff exterior, and just as predictably, he falls in love with the beautiful woman he’s agreed to rescue. The feeblest moments of The Kashmiri Run include dopey physical comedy accentuated by cringe-inducing music, but the strongest scenes put Roberts’ he-man charm front and center.
Near the beginning of the turgid plot, Gregory consorts with a corrupt local mayor, learning that a British geologist resides in the mayor’s village. Gregory convinces the mayor that the geologist’s patrons will seek revenge if anything befalls their man—thus Gregory contrives to escort James Fleming to safety. Alas, James, who has fallen ill, dies soon after Gregory arrives. His pretty widow, whom Gregory nicknames “Hank” (Alexandra Bastedo), refuses to believe there’s impending trouble with the Chinese, so Gregory gets her drunk and slips her out of town, beginning an odyssey through bandit territory. Accompanying them are Tibetan helpers including Gregory’s common-law wife, who also has several Tibetan husbands. “Hank” is suitably aghast at the primitivism, but Gregory’s bravery and masculinity wear down her resistance. (Feminists beware—it’s that kind of picture.)
Tracking the plot of The Kashmiri Run isn’t the easiest task, and hardly worth the trouble. After all, the film is derivative, sexist, periodically stupid, and unattractive, with flat photography and grungy locations. (The picture was shot in Spain.) Nonetheless, it’s possible to watch The Kashmiri Run and imagine how Roberts might have excelled with better material in the same vein. He’s quite watchable, even when the movie isn’t—so those willing to search for fragments of acceptable movie embedded within the sludge of The Kashmiri Run might find some enjoyment.
The Kashmiri Run: FUNKY