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During the 1950s, American adventurer Matt Campbell arrives in Kenya to join his brother George. George wrote to Matt and urged him to come to Kenya where a very lucrative business opportunity has arisen. After checking himself in a hotel, Matt is visited by a local missionary, by the name of Ralph Hoyt, who informs Matt that his brother George has recently been killed by a member of the Leopard Men religious cult. The cult's aim being the extermination of the White man in Africa. Matt also meets the missionary's pretty niece, anthropologist Ann Wilson and big game hunter Gil Rossi, a Frenchman who was George's business partner. Rossi implies that he, George and a man named Elliott Hastings jointly owned a mine in the bush country beyond Mombasa. Apparently, the mine contained something more precious than gold. However, missionary Ralph Hoyt tells Matt that the mine is most likely worthless and tries to dissuade Matt from seeking the mine. Nevertheless, a funeral for George is planned... Written by
African adventures were constant entertainment fodder throughout the 1950s and beyond, where many a popular star took on the jungle with its wild animals and (often) equally hostile natives; in this case, it was strapping Cornel Wilde rather ill-at-ease, however, playing a hard-drinking womanizer (especially given the various attempts made on his life by "Leopard Men" already responsible for his brother's death after having stumbled upon a deposit of uranium)! This British-made production (albeit helmed by an American) features yet another stalwart cast which also includes leading lady Donna Reed (who, as a bookish anthropologist, naturally starts by resenting Wilde's boorishness but eventually cannot resist his directness and obvious virility), Leo Genn (the outwardly benign missionary eventually revealed to be the mastermind behind the Mau Mau-inspired 'reign of terror', driven by a misguided sense of religious and civic duty), Ron Randell (who, as Wilde's brother's business partner, logically has the finger of suspicion pointing at him from the outset) and, in one of his more prominent pre-stardom roles, Christopher Lee (a big-game hunter of Italian descent who, even more unlikely, is played up to be the hero's romantic rival!). The exotic locale supplies characteristic thrills (such as the inevitable cobra attack) and excessive (i.e. mostly irrelevant) local color but, shot by the redoubtable Freddie Young, it invariably pleases the eye (despite the panning-and-scanning involved in the TV-sourced copy I acquired). The obligatory peril-fraught-trek-through-the-jungle (with tension among the protagonists palpable as they seek the lost mine) takes up the latter half of the narrative, culminating in Genn's going berserk and unleashing the "Leopard Men" on his trapped 'companions' until the other natives rise up against these clandestine forces, since they find their activities giving them a bad name!
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