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In Africa early in World War II, a British rubber plantation executive reminisces about his arrival in the Congo in 1910. He tells the story of a love-hate triangle involving Harry Witzel, an in-country station superintendent who'd seen it all, Langford, a new manager sent from England for a four-year stint, and Tondelayo, a siren of great beauty who desires silk and baubles. Witzel is gruff and seasoned, certain that Langford won't be able to cut it. Langford responds with determination and anger, attracted to Tondelayo because of her beauty, her wiles, and to get at Witzel. Manipulation, jealousy, revenge, and responsibility play out as alliances within the triangle shift. Written by
Because of the miscegenation aspects of the play (Tondelayo was a black woman), it was on the Production Code Administraiton's "condemned" list of sources not to be considered. A big outcry was heard when the British film, based on the same sources, was released in New York in March, 1930, because it was deemed to violate the spirit of the Hays decree. MGM hired playwright Leon Gordon to adapt his play for the screen; he changed Tondelayo's parentage to half Egyptian and half Arab, and it was eventually given an approved certificate. Still, the movie was placed on the Legion of Decency's condemned list, and the film was banned in Singapore and Trinidad because of its racial implications. See more »
The doctor hands a small bottle to Tondelayo and describes it only as "new medicine." However, when giving a dose to her husband she calls it "quinine" - a medical term she would unlikely know with her limited command of English. See more »
Extremely silly and campy, but not crassly so...Lamarr makes it entertaining
Lusty half-caste on a British-owned rubber plantation in Africa--speaking in broken English and always preceded by the tinkling of her jewelry--insinuates herself between the two badgering white foremen; she childishly pits the hotheaded adversaries against one another, winner take Tondelayo! Leon Gordon's play, an adaptation of the novel "Hell's Playground" by Ida Vera Simonton, raised enough eyebrows in the 1920s to make it a hit, but by 1942 the material was already seeming awfully trite and thin. Director Richard Thorpe doesn't even try to disguise the stage-origins, keeping his actors running from Point A to Point B in quick little mad dashes. However, despite the lack of style and finesse, Hedy Lamarr's ripened female-savage is something to see, and occasionally her lines even get intentional laughs. ** from ****
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