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When the great potato famine hits Ireland, the diaspora begins as thousands emigrate. Among those leaving the Emerald Isle is Katie O'Neill and her husband, who decide that the promised land is South Africa and make their way there. Once there, they discover the hardships that are the reality of the homesteader experience. To complicate matters, Katie meets up with the love of her life, Paul van Riebeck. Will there be betrayal on the veldt? Written by
Sprawling adventure epic has too much of everything and not enough solid drama...
Some rugged pioneer adventurers, headed by TYRONE POWER, SUSAN HAYWARD, JOHN JUSTIN and RICHARD EGAN, end up in South Africa fighting Zulus after fleeing Ireland because of the potato famine. This is one of those big sprawling Technicolor epics designed to lure patrons away from their TV sets in the mid '50s to watch spectacular action unfold against handsome landscapes.
Susan Hayward is the feisty Irish heroine who marries John Justin but has her eyes set on following her true love--Tyrone Power--to South Africa. When hubby Justin is killed in a Zulu attack, she sets her mind on winning Tyrone's hand in marriage. She has to cope with Richard Egan, who is also lusting after her. There's a very realistically staged fight with a bull whip between Power and Egan--and you know who wins. But the script has her mistreating both men, enough so to make you wonder what makes her tick. It's an oddly defined role.
The story is a sprawling one and Henry King has directed some of it with his usual skill. The supporting cast includes HOPE EMERSON and AGNES MOOREHEAD, so obviously the studio treated this one as a big epic adventure story that would look handsomely rugged on the big screen.
Hayward faces all her hardships in Scarlett O'Hara manner. "Then we'll plough and seed. And then we'll come back," she says at one point to Agnes Moorehead after the latest catastrophe. Tyrone Power spends much of his time off camera but you know he's going to be the hero who returns to help her begin a new life. She becomes a wealthy woman after bartering with a native for a hefty diamond, and meets Power again years later at the Governor's Ball. But she and Power have another stormy disagreement and the story goes on and on.
It's basically an unrewarding mixture of adventure and romance with poor character motivations and a muddled script that lacks a strong focus. Hayward does some extravagant overacting as the ill-tempered heroine, Egan has the strongest male role and Power is totally wasted.
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