When American newspaperman and adventurer Henry M. Stanley comes back from the western Indian wars, his editor James Gordon Bennett sends him to Africa to find Dr. David Livingstone, the ... See full summary »
When American newspaperman and adventurer Henry M. Stanley comes back from the western Indian wars, his editor James Gordon Bennett sends him to Africa to find Dr. David Livingstone, the missing Scottish missionary. Stanley finds Livingstone ("Dr. Livingstone, I presume.") blissfully doling out medicine and religion to the happy natives. His story is at first disbelieved. When Livingstone later dies, Stanley returns to continue the good doctor's work (which, of course, never really happened). Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
To the officials of His Majesty's government in British East Africa, the producers wish to express their appreciation for the cooperation that made possible the filming of the safari sequences in Kenya, Tanganyka and Uganda. See more »
Onward Christian Soldiers
Music from "St. Gertrude" by Arthur Sullivan (1871)
Hymn by Sabine Baring-Gould (1865)
Played when Stanley finds Livingstone and often as background music
Sung a cappella by natives
Reprised at the end by offscreen chorus and orchestra See more »
If any of you have read some of my reviews of other films, you'll note that I've said that Jim Bowie of all the colorful frontier characters in American history gets the biggest whitewash in films. The man was a notorious scoundrel and half of this film is devoted to another scoundrel.
Henry M. Stanley was just such a scoundrel. The film does not go at all into his later life as a paid shill of King Leopold of Belgium and his brutally administered regime in the Belgian Congo. Nor does it mention when he came to America, he enlisted and deserted from both sides of the Civil War.
Stanley found his calling as a reporter for the New York Herald where on the strength of his reporting on the American Indian wars, editor James Gordon Bennett decided he was the guy to send to Africa and scoop the English papers in a search for famed missionary Dr. David Livingstone.
Whatever else he was, Stanley was a brave man and his explorations into Africa added considerable knowledge for the Caucasian world about that continent.
As for Livingstone, by all indications he was a Christian who did walk the walk in his beliefs in life and probably would have been aghast at Stanley's later activities with the Belgian Congo.
Spencer Tracy plays Stanley as if he was doing one of his roughneck characters who finds the piety of a Father Flanagan in the African jungle. Cedric Hardwicke is a very proper and pious David Livingstone. Hardwicke's portrayal is the truth and Tracy does put his characterization of Stanley across, false though it is in real life.
This was Spencer Tracy's only film away from MGM for the time he was under contract to them. It was for his former studio 20th Century Fox and he certainly never got as big a budget on his previous films with them except possibly Dante's Inferno.
Though the film takes incredible liberties with the facts, fans of Spencer Tracy might like this story of a scoundrel in search of a saint in the jungle.
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