While on safari in an unexplored area of Africa, Trader Horn and Peru find missionary Edith Trent killed by natives. They decide to carry on her quest for her lost daughter Nina. They find ... See full summary »
While on safari in an unexplored area of Africa, Trader Horn and Peru find missionary Edith Trent killed by natives. They decide to carry on her quest for her lost daughter Nina. They find her as the queen of a particularly savage tribe, and try to bring her back to civilization. Written by
Aloysius 'Trader' Horn:
They have a telegraph, though - drums. There's a sound that'll crawl up your spine and down to your gizzard. Maybe you'll hear it one of these days.
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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is indebted to the governmental officials of The Territory of Tanganyika, The Protectorate of Uganda, The Colony of Kenya, The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, The Belgian Congo, whose co-operation made this picture possible - and to White Hunters Maj. W.V.D. Dickinson, A.S. Waller, Esq., J.H. Barnes, Esq., H.R. Stanton, Esq., for their courageous services through 14,000 miles of African veldt and jungle. See more »
'Trader Horn' is screen history. It influenced the evolution of the adventure epic immensely and was a direct inspiration for director W.S. Van Dyke's own effort from the year after, the first Tarzan movie with Johnny Weissmuller. 'Tarzan the Ape Man' is not among the best of the Weissmuller Tarzans, nor can I say of 'Trader Horn' that in itself it is a great movie by any standards.
Trader Horn is an experienced trader on the African savannas, and takes his young sidekick Peru on an extended journey to show him the wildlife and the fauna of his home in the wild. After being caught by a hostile tribe they escape with a white young girl who was abducted when she was a baby, and both Trader Horn and Peru fall in love with her.
Yes, it is very simplistic, no more than a pitch for a cartoon really. Trader's education of his young protegé is much too didactic to bring any kind of life into any work of fiction, but we do get to see a lot of exotic animals, which in 1931 would have been more than enough point. The film overall is brought down by Harry Carey's strangely unsympathetic portrayal of Trader. It is not so much his racism, that was a given in Western movies at the time, no escaping it, but Carey's Trader is sullen and mean-spirited and condescending to each and everybody, you tire of him quickly. And I got very severely fed up with his way of always addressing Peru as 'lad' or 'boy' in this fake Irish accent. Peru, played by dazzling young Spanish actor Duncan Renaldo, is nothing if not sweet, transcending matiné-idol cuteness, and you forgive him his delighted outburst, "They are not savages, they are just happy, ignorant children!" So watch it and appreciate its historical impact. Just don't expect a serious contender to any of the later and infinitely better adventure yarns.
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