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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Victor Marswell runs a big game trapping company in Kenya. Eloise Kelly is ditched there, and an immediate attraction happens between them. Then Mr. and Mrs. Nordley show up for their gorilla documenting safari. Mrs. Nordley is not infatuated with her husband any more, and takes a liking to Marswell. The two men and two women have some difficulty arranging these emotions to their mutual satisfaction, but eventually succeed. Written by
Rob Hardy <email@example.com>
Some episodes in the film were based on events that happened during the shoot. Just as in the movie, a leopard actually wandered into Ava Gardner's tent one night. She also took a stab at cooking for the entire crew, just as her character does on screen. See more »
A cheetah walks through Honey Bear's tent late one night. Cheetahs are diurnal, hunting only during the day and sleeping at night. See more »
Opening Title Card reads: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is grateful beyond measure to the government officials of Kenya Colony, Tanganyika, the Uganda Protectorate and the Republic of French Equatorial Africa, whose limitless co-operation made this motion picture possible. See more »
This is a strange, but good picture coming from John Ford. It's not about the usual themes he normally tackles, it lacks the usual supporting cast from a Ford film. Yet it is a good piece of movie making.
In a biography of John Ford by his grandson he said that Gable and Ford were friends for years, not particularly close, but friends nonetheless. Whenever they were together Ford and Gable talked about working together. Finally Gable got MGM to get Ford for his next film and it was Mogambo.
I like Mogambo because it was the start of a trend in Hollywood to show some realism when dealing with Africa. To this day there are people in the United States whose knowledge about things African were gained from Tarzan movies. African Queen, King Solomon's Mines, and Mogambo were all shot on location and all show the native Africans in reality. I was a kid at this time and my first bit of education about Africa came from Ramar of the Jungle. This is light years better.
Gable was criticized for reprising a role he did 20 years earlier in Red Dust. The plot line stays the same, but in Red Dust, Gable is the hard-nosed manager of a rubber plantation in Malaya. Gable as Vic Marswell here is a world weary and cynical game hunter and safari guide. Both portrayals are very good and very different.
By all accounts it was not a happy set. The usual problems with location in Africa presented themselves. In addition Frank Sinatra was on the set. He was waiting on word whether he would get the part he sought in From Here To Eternity. At the time he was married to Ava Gardner and there's was one of the most tempestuous marriages in Hollywood history. He was jealous of Gable as he was of all Gardner's leading men. To be just Ava kind of encouraged the jealous. When Harry Cohn gave him the word about From Here To Eternity he left with the gratitude of Ford, Gable, Gardner and everyone else, he'd become a royal pain in the neck.
Ava Gardner was one of the most beautiful women God ever created and a lot of times she could get by with that. But when called on to act she could. As Eloise "honeybear" Kelly she's as cynical in her own way as Gable was. They were a perfect fit. This was the last of three films she and Gable made.
I don't think Grace Kelly is shown to best advantage here. Her British accent was a bit affected. I'm not sure why MGM just didn't cast a British actress like Deborah Kerr in the part. Of course she also was involved with From Here To Eternity if I remember.
Mogambo because of the location shooting and much bigger budget is better than its predecessor Red Dust. For all the unhappiness on the set, the stars and its director did some good work.
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