|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Index||11 reviews in total|
In darkest Africa, so legends say, lies the secret location
KING SOLOMON'S MINES, a great mountain full of heaps of
diamonds. Surrounded by a seemingly impassable desert, it
said no white man has ever set foot there. Africa's greatest
hunter & guide, Allan Quartermain, does not believe the
exist, but he is forced against his better judgment to lead
small party over the desert ... and right into a fierce tribal
This is a very fine adventure film, with much to recommend it. Plenty of excitement, a little romance, and a few well-sung songs help push the plot along. Footage shot in Africa enhance the atmosphere of this Gaumont-British film.
Sir Cedric Hardwicke is a sturdy, stoic Quartermain, just the sort of no-nonsense fellow you would want guiding your expedition. American opera star Paul Robeson has marvelous presence as a mysterious native who seems to know a bit too much about the lands they are seeking. Arthur Sinclair & Anna Lee are the two Irish treasure seekers who spark much of the action. John Loder & Roland Young (very droll) nicely play the two English chaps who finance the trek. Robert Adams is the nasty tribal usurper who gets in their way.
Strangely receiving no screen credit, stage actress Sydney Fairbrother is nothing short of terrific as the ancient, filthy witch doctor Gagool, `older than the memory of the oldest man.' The scene in which she stalks about, calmly choosing those to instantly die, is a classic of mounting terror.
Mr. Robeson uses his magnificent voice in three songs: `Walk! Walk!', `Climbin' Up' & `Kukuwana'.
This first version of H. Rider Haggard's 1884 novel has a wonderful cast (Paul Robeson, Cedric Hardwicke, Anna Lee, Roland Young and John Loder), excellent production values which includes a bubbling volcano pit, and good special effects when the lava starts eroding the walls of the crater. Even with black and white photography, it is very comparable to the 1950 Technicolor version (with Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr) and better than the 1985 version (with Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone). Because I am partial to Paul Robeson, I didn't mind the intrusion into the narrative of his singing three songs with his magnificent voice. (Who can make a film with Robeson without having him sing?) The movie is full of suspense, action (when the tribes battle each other) and some comedy provided mostly by Roland Young. Overall a stirring addition to the genre that should please its fans.
I have just seen this adventure movie for the first time and found it
A hunter and his guide set out across the desert to search for King Solomon's Mines so he can get hold of the treasure. A party, including his daughter who is worried about him follows him and after confronting a dust storm and running out of water, they reach there. Natives find them and after a battle for the throne, the mines are eventually reached and the young woman is reunited with her dad. A volcano erupts and they manage to escape and set off for home, accompanied by 100 natives for the journey across the desert as a thank you for helping the native leader get his throne back.
The movie features an excellent performance by Paul Robeson, whose songs help the movie along nicely. This also stars Cedric Hardwicke, Roland Young and Anna Lee. The special effects were good for their time, especially the cave scenes with the volcano.
This movie has since been remade several times and the best version is the 1950 one with Stuart Granger, which I also have in my movie collection.
This movie is worth checking out. Great fun.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Respectable early entry in the King Solomon's Mines sweepstakes. (No
need to recap the plot.) Except for a few scenic shots of the overland
trek, the movie doesn't really come alive until the last half-hour, but
from then on it's near-brilliant. The sweeping shots of warrior armies
advancing across the veldt, the close-in shots of the defenders with
their magnificent shields, the pageantry and tomfoolery of the royal
court, but most of all, the ghastly assassination squad led by the
whims of a hump-back hag who moves like a creeping disease. I've seen
nothing like her (Sydney Fairbrother) before or since, but her
crab-like crawl over the gateway rock may make you rethink the pace of
evolution. Also, the white-hot caldera with the clinging ledge above
amounts to a spine-tingling effect for any movie period. I'm not even
sure Technicolor could have improved on the staging of these remarkable
Now, there are no seams that I can spot during this stellar last half-hour. I couldn't tell whether the scenes were done on location in Africa or maybe even Great Britain. However the earlier scenes of the trek are marred by obvious inter-cutting between long-shot locations and close-in exterior sets poorly done. For me, this breaks the spell and indicates a curious lapse in an otherwise well produced adventure film. Lee and Robeson are spirited and commanding as central figures. However, I agree with a reviewer's observation that Loder would have made a more convincing Quartermain than the stiff-backed Hardwicke. Also, Hardwicke and Young behave more like they belong in a gentleman's smoking club than footloose in the wilds of Africa, while Young's wry asides are strictly a matter of taste and, in my view, a lame attempt at comic relief.
Nonetheless, this 1937 production is definitely worth catching up with, especially for those who have never seen or heard the great Paul Robeson.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a rousing adventure story that has only a few flaws that keep
it from an even higher score--amazingly good for a film that has
somehow been allowed to slip into the public domain! The film begins
with a really dumb girl (Anna Lee) and her even dumber father (Arthur
Sinclair) hitching a ride along with the famous Allan Quartermain
(Cedric Hardwicke) as he goes to meet a client. It seems that
Quartermain's exploits as a great white hunter are legendary, though he
seems a pretty likable guy who really is so unlike the two Irish idiots
he happened upon. By the way, I have absolutely nothing against the
Irish--it's just that the characters really overdo the 'I'm Irish' bit
through the first part of the film.
Along the way, they happen upon a dying man and his co-traveler (Paul Robson) and they learn about some sort of treasure of King Solomon's mines. Almost instantly, the father takes off in search of the treasure--even though it's blinking insane to travel through unknown African territory and through deserts to do this---alone!!! And, it turns out his daughter is also an idiot, as soon she steals one of Quartermain's wagons and sets off in search of her father and the treasure. Oddly, Quartermain's client who has hired him for a safari (Roland Young) decides that he and Quartermain should follow her and try to save her from herself. I say they should have just let her die and then celebrated with some pie...but that wouldn't make a very interesting movie, would it?! Eventually, their insanely difficult journey brings them to a strange land where there really is an honest-to-goodness treasure. But, they have to battle the tribesmen AND nature to get the treasure and, hopefully, find the idiots and save them from themselves.
Overall, this is a really good African adventures story because the natives really do appear to be Africans, the scenery sure looks like Africa and there is no trace of the usual stock shots of animals from Asia or South America like you'd usually see in the countless low-budget films set in Africa that were the rage from the 1930s-50s. And, the story and acting are quite good, though I was a bit surprised to see Hardwicke as an action-hero--he's got a lovely voice and was a good actor, but 'macho' is not normally a word I'd associate with him! About the only problem with the film is all of Paul Robeson's gratuitous singing. Yes, he has a wonderful voice in the film, but the songs seemed irrelevant to the plot and were simply tossed in because he had a great voice. Also, oddly, his first song sure sounded a lot like a re-working of "Old Man River"--a song he made famous on Broadway and film in "Showboat" (1936).
There have been five attempts at putting H. Rider Haggard's novel on the silver screen. Some are good, others better, a few in Black and white with new ones in color, but having seen them all, I conclude, this offering called " King Solomon's Mines " with Paul Robeson is the best. The early cinematic film is stark, grainy and vastly lacking in panoramic scenery. In addition, it's cast members are a bit cardboard in nature and the story lacks coherent structure. However, for all it's shortcomings, Paul Robeson carries the film and more than makes up for it's early novelty. The simple story is bare bones and tells of an Irishman, Patrick O'Brian (Patrick Sinclair) who learns of a fabulous treasure in the African Mountains and sets out for it, leaving his daughter Anna Lee (Kathleen O'Brian) to chase after him. The famous adventurer Allan Quatermain as played by Sir Cedric Hardwicke reluctantly joins her, Cmdr. John Good (Roland Young), Sir Henry Curtis (John Loder) and returning warrior Umbopa who seeks his rightful place as tribal Chief. The movie is a bit slow but expected for early Hollywood. Some dry humor accompanies the interesting tribal conflict and traditional formula. Despite its failings, the story becomes secondary when privileged to hear the impressive, beautiful bass voice of Paul Robeson. That alone makes this film a Classic. Wonderfully preserved for all audiences. Recommended. ****
First of the Many Versions, this British Production is Somewhat Dated
but not without Charm and Adventure. Once things get going it is Truly
an Adventure Filled with Dangers and Diabolical Natives.
This wasn't the Best of Prints and some of the Images looked Very Dark and Blurry but Enough Remained to be Watchable. The Final Act is Undoubtedly the Best with Standout Scenery and some really Scary Natives. Their Attire and Demeanor is Striking and Unsettling.
Paul Robeson is Often Touted as Enhancing the Story with His Three Songs but they seem out of Place and Pretty Corny. "Mountain, you mountain, mountain, you mountain." But Even if You don't find that kind of Stuff Appealing there is Much to Like in this Rousing Adventure that has an Outstanding Climax.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay version of the classic tale has dated with the passage of time. Not the most action packed of the versions, most of this version is a straight forward journey to the mine. Things only get interesting towards the end when there is a battle for control of the kingdom guarding the mine, until then its mostly travel. For me the real problem is that hero Allan Quartermain is given very little to do but look stoic. To be certain Cedric Hardwicke is the perfect Quatermain, there is no doubt he is completely in control, no matter what is going on, the trouble is he doesn't do much to back up the stance (though to be fair I have no doubt he could do whatever he had to). Worth a look if you run across it, but not something one need search out
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
King Solomon's Mines is a British adventure film that was the first of
five film adaptations of the 1885 novel of the same title by Henry
Rider Haggard.It stars Paul Robeson, Cedric Hardwicke, Anna Lee, John
Loder and Roland Young.This 1937 film is about the events that happen
when an expedition was organized by Anna Lee to locate her father who
disappeared in the wilderness of Africa while searching for King
Solomon's mines,a well-known legendary diamond repository.Added to the
plot is how Alan Quatermaine and his troupe has managed to locate it.
No question about it that the film has been more than 75 years ago.It was obviously dated particularly the special effects and production values as compared with today's films and especially the remakes that were made after it.But compared with those recent remakes,this version remains closest to the version of the novel and arguably remains the best among them.If one is able to get a copy of it,it will definitely be worth watching.
Note to Thinker: If a movie begins with a semi-naked guy banging a
gong, it's a British movie, if with a virgin holding a torch, it's from
To spell it out, this is a Gaumont British Picture Corporation picture, studio of Hitchcock's The 39 Steps and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), as well as Supersonic Saucer, Transatlantic Tunnel, Mister Hobo, and First a Girl, which all sound absolutely fascinating. They really do.
British movies of the 30s generally didn't have the budget or polish of Hollywood productions, and it shows here in the weak editing of early scenes and the slender script. However, they've assembled a first rate cast, except for an annoying Anna Lee.
Gaumont did two things you would not have seen in a Hollywood movie of the time: Location shooting in Africa and giving a black man lead billing. It was a joy seeing Paul Robeson starring in a dignified role. And the African footage is probably better done than the studio scenes. Britain had regularly scheduled flying boat routes to Africa carrying British Imperial mail and passengers in luxury, so the producers would have felt more comfortable shooting in Afria than their California counterparts.
This is the sort of movie I would have watched as a kid on a black and white TV. The slow pace would have benefited from the commercial breaks -- six minutes an hour back then, unlike today when the movie provides a break from the commercials. As a kid I did not feel compelled to rate everything I watched, but if I did, I would have rated it "It's OK." I wonder if kids could bear to sit through it today?
However, there is a reason that adults should watch this, and a way to get kids interested, maybe. King Solomon's Mines (1937) -- and the book -- is the granddaddy of all those adventure, lost world movies, like the Indiana Jones franchise. Watch this and then Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) back to back. Then consider what they have in common, and you will find the secret formula, kids. (No, I'm not going to spell it out, it's a secret.) As a follow up, ask the kids which is better, and why, and not just the latter's colour and special effects.
Now if you really want to get creative, ask the kid to write a story based on the secret formula. Who knows? H. Rider Haggard wrote this story on a five shilling wager with his brother that he couldn't write a story half as good as Treasure Island, which I haven't read lately, so I can't judge whether King Solomon's Mines is, indeed, half as good. No word on whether his brother paid up. But maybe you will raise the next Spielberg.
King Solomon's Mines is no gem, but it is historically significant. I have noticed of late (say, the last 15 years or so) many British posters complaining about American movies on the slightest pretext, if they are war movies, because they don't provide sufficient credit to British soldiers for whatever battle is portrayed, and if they are the story of an American horse, that they don't mention British horses (or Australian horses, if the reviewer is an Australian). One British reviewer had the gall to call Seabiscuit "American imperialist propaganda." Perhaps I am missing something here, such as when it was that America became imperialist holders of colonies, and what this has to do with a race horse in the Great Depression?
Of course, King Solomon's Mines is not British "imperialist propaganda." Britain is not an imperialist power that holds colonies around the world, and never was. Britain never waged war to protect its colonies against rebellion and revolution, and it certainly never killed innocent, unarmed men, women and children engaged in peaceful protest.
Instead, this movie shows how noble and kind these rich British non-imperialists were, at heart, unlike the poor Irishman who would have stolen the treasure map from a dying man, and the poor Irish woman, who was a chronic liar and thief, not to mention the homicidal maniac tribal chief.
Umboba was a good man, but then he was educated by the British and knew how to speak English (with a Jersy accent), so he was civilized. But even so, he only was able to gain his rightful throne with the help of the British noblemen.
No, King Solomon's Mines is not British imperialistic propaganda. It just fell through a wormhole.
This, however, does not solve the problem. The only solution is for Britain to ban the importation and viewing of all American movies, because, according to a consensus of British viewers, they are all "American imperialist propaganda," no matter what they are about. While we are waiting, if you are British, please, please, please stop watching Hollywood movies. You obviously don't enjoy them. May I suggest some classic British gems like: Leave It to Smith, Britannia of Billingsgate, East Lynne on the Western Front, A Cuckoo in the Nest, and Turkey Time?
As a footnote, the documentary series Queen Victoria's Empire - 2001 (an excellent programme) has some scenes of traditional African native dancing. It is at night around a campfire, so it is hard to see the details, but the costumes have some of the elements shown in King Solomon's Mines, and the drum rhythms are very similar.
|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|External reviews||Parents Guide||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|