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Ellen Burton arrives in Africa to join Dr. Mary as her nurse, bringing modern medicine to the native peoples. Lonni Douglas, an animal wrangler and fortune hunter, agrees to take her upriver, despite his misgivings about her suitability for Africa. They battle escaped gorillas, hostile natives, infected lion wounds, and hostile witch doctors to reach their destination and on the way, they fall in love. Will their contrasting interests doom their romance? Written by
James Callan <email@example.com>
Routine story helped by colorful African backgrounds...but...
I hate to disillusion all you commentators who think that SUSAN HAYWARD and ROBERT MITCHUM really went to Africa to film WHITE WITCH DOCTOR. A lot of the stock footage was filmed in Africa and used throughout, but the stars and the supporting players were all photographed on Fox's studio lot, never setting a foot outside the studio except for location scenes filmed elsewhere in California.
And the story, watchable enough as it is, is not exactly worthy of comparison to either THE African QUEEN or MOGAMBO. In fact, in barren outline, it sounds more like material for a B-picture, a typical '40s jungle film that might have starred Johnny Weissmuller as the big white hunter and fake studio sets to shown tribal natives going into their frenzied dances.
However, the African footage is blended so well into the studio shots that it's easy to see why some think that this was a film entirely shot on location in Africa. It wasn't.
SUSAN HAYWARD and ROBERT MITCHUM do competent enough work as the dedicated nurse and the would-be treasure hunter, who uses the pretext of being Hayward's guide into Bakuba territory in order to do a hasty search for hidden treasure so that he can inform his companion, WALTER SLEZANK, of its whereabouts. Slezak plays his usual smarmy standard villain role with relish.
Nothing spectacular happens and the fake gorilla is laughably obvious--but it has its moments of danger and suspense that make it passable enough as moderately interesting entertainment.
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