King Solomon’s Mines (1950)

The Voyage Only

You need to compare this to “Out of Africa” and “African Queen”.

And it compares very poorly indeed. Four-fifths of this is the voyage across Africa with only two purposes: to show off the then novel footage of the place, and to portray the snotty, pretty woman loosening up and falling in love with the manly man. This part is dreary, without charm or rhythm. The only charm you might find is Deborah Kerr who to my mind is rather charming.

There is a certain constancy in women of this period and that really rankles today. All are drawn from the outside and portrayed from the inside. Annoying.

At the end, you’ll find two rather unrelated sequences. One involves the mine and is staged like a cheap serial from the 30’s. The other concerns a contested Watusi kingship. Except for the final spear throw, this is as fine as you get in terms of discovery photography of native people. Sure, it is staged and clean and exploitative, but rewarding non-the less.

Reminds me of a much better film of this native type: “Legong.”

Posted in 2005

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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