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British District Officer in Nigeria in the 1930's rules his area strictly but justly, and struggles with gun-runners and slavers with the aid of a loyal native chief. Written by
Michael Crew <email@example.com>
Some of the wonderful looking shots of African river scenes were in fact filmed on the River Thames at Shepperton. See more »
Although the film is nominally set in Nigeria (as shown on the map in Sanders' office), the aerial wildlife shots seem to have been taken in East Africa (e.g. Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika). Given the presence of Jomo Kenyatta as an extra in the cast, it is likely that the African scenes were shot on the eastern coast of Africa rather than in Nigeria. See more »
"Sandi the Brave, Sandi the Wise, Righter of Wrongs, Hater of Lies!"
Although a source of much embarrassment (and biographical revisionism) to Paul Robeson in later years, by the standards of its day Sanders of the River isn't quite as obnoxiously racist as you might think. Unlike American films of the period, it's more patronising than openly defamatory and while he's hardly a role model, Robeson's convict-turned-king plays a more central role in the plot than Leslie Banks condescendingly paternalistic British commissioner ("Sandi the Brave, Sandi the Wise/Righter of Wrongs, Hater of Lies!"). But then, you don't expect subtlety from a story by Edgar Wallace, who many blamed for the collapse of peace talks during the Boer War because of his salacious invented newspaper stories of Boer atrocities.
As a film it holds together fairly well, with the extensive and often spectacular location footage of Africa and Shepperton riverside (all too obviously shot with stand-ins for the two stars) compensating for the Victor Herbert operetta style songs given to Robeson ("Let the rivers rattle/Onwards into battle/Make them flee like cattle").
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