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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!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
George Marshall directs this Columbia Pictures East African travelogue. Matt Campbell(Cornell Wilde) makes the trip to Mombasa, Kenya too late for his brother's funeral. He discovers his brother did not die of natural causes, but murdered. Matt would like to know who murdered him; but unsympathetically would like to know more about the location of a mine that his sibling wrote him about. Early on arrival, Mr. Campbell meets with a missionary, Ralph Hoyt(Leo Genn)and Hoyt's niece Ann Wilson(Donna Reed)and joins them on safari and search for the valuable mine. This is not a gold mine, nor diamond mine; but a uranium mine. Several attempts are made on Matt's life and he knows someone seriously does not want him to locate the mine. As the safari travels beyond Mombasa, natives speak of a white man being killed by a legendary tribe of "leopard men". This action adventure seems a bit longer than the quoted running time of an hour and thirty minutes. Sure some scenes may have been drawn out a bit; and any violence is not very shocking. Banter between Wilde and Reed at times is playfully humorous. Horror film veteran Christopher Lee plays a shady Frenchman. Also supporting are Ron Randall and Dan Jackson. This film was indeed filmed in Mombasa, Kenya.
"Beyond Mombasa" (1956) is squarely within Hollywood tradition and
movie-making of the time, even though it's a British production. It's
an action-adventure movie with romance in the mix. It's comfortably
clichéd and stereotyped. In this kind of movie, there is a mystery to
it: Who killed the hero's brother? The hero is Cornell Wilde, a very
appealing and easy-to-take leading man. His romantic interest is Donna
Reed. She's standoffish but we know that she'll be won over. Really,
it's the other way around; she'll nail down an eligible bachelor.
There's a trek to the distant mine owned by Wilde's brother. It may have valuable uranium in it. There are glimpses of giraffes, hippos, elephants and rhinos along the way. A rhino charges a jeep. There is some native dancing. There is some Kenyan location work. The cast is rounded out with Leo Genn, Christopher Lee and Ron Randall. The natives who do the heavy lifting are all called "boys".
Altogether, it's easy to take and provides genre relief. A jungle movie here and there offsets watching too much of some other genre. This one serves that function well enough.
As Hollywood produced films about Africa now had to be shot in Africa
for realism's sake since King Solomon's Mines and The African Queen I
suppose that Cornel Wilde and Donna Reed were grateful for the safari
adventure they got courtesy of Columbia Pictures for filming Beyond
Mombasa. The location shooting in Mombasa and in the rest of what was
then Kenya colony is this film's biggest asset.
Wilde is in Africa having been sent for by his brother who even made hotel reservations in Mombasa for him. Upon arrival he finds kindly missionary Leo Genn and his anthropologist niece Reed breaking the bad news about his brother's death at the hands of a revived cult of the Leopard. Wilde thinks it might have been the very real Mau Maus, but Genn says it's the leopard crowd.
Determined to get to the bottom of things, Wilde goes with Genn and Reed into the interior of Kenya, Beyond Mombasa to find where his brother might have found uranium. Their guide is another partner of the brother Christopher Lee and they're to join yet a third partner Ron Randell near the mine.
I can't say any more lest I spoil a most ridiculous plot turn. All I can say is that one of the cast has truly gone native.
I suppose a good safari is a good enough reason to be in one stinker of a movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is not clear exactly who this film was aimed at.Filmed in technicolour in Africa,with interiors in the UK with a largely British cast.The two main leads are American.So maybe this was made for the American as well as the British market.The story is rather strange.It seems to be utilising elements of the then current Mau mau uprising in Kenya and renaming them the Leopard people.Instead of seeking independence they are being led by a dotty English missionary,played by Leo Genn in a very unsatisfactory wig,to protect a uranium mine.In the meantime Wilde and Reed are having a truly tiresome romance.Some good location scenes but that is about all of interest.
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