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 »
One can only wonder how many posters of Hedy Lamarr as Tondelayo were pinned up by soldiers in WWII. She is seductive and appealing and downright hot as a half African who spends the entire film in bra and sarong. Most of the time she is striking seductive poses and lounging on a couch showing off her magnificent body that matches her unequaled facial features.
This is a comedy for the most part, and it is really funny. Frank Morgan is back, not a The Pirate, but as a drunken doctor that has probably been drummed out of the medical establishment and can only get work on this African plantation.
Walter Pidgeon, who would go one to capture two Oscar nominations in the next two years (Mrs. Miniver, Madame Curie), was the leader of the plantation and the colonial law. He was hilarious as a succession of new assistants arrived in white, freshly starched clothing from the Mother Country, and all said the exact same words that drove him nuts.
Of course, he warned all of them about Tondelayo, even banning her from the camp, but it was useless as they all succumbed to her charms.
A must-see for those who appreciate what made our fathers happy in the Big One.
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