Harry Sanders returns to England after losing his job as a police inspector in West Africa. However, he soon returns to the continent to investigate the offshore diamond operation of a shady American tycoon.
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In both this film and the previous version, Sanders of the River (1935), there is a boat named Zaire. In this film it is a small launch, whereas in the previous film it is a large paddle-steamer. See more »
In the final scene Todd and the girl, in a boat on the river, look up and see an aircraft supposedly taking the other girl back to civilization. This Lufthansa Boeing 707/700 is clearly trimmed for landing with wheels and flaps extended. Any 707 of that era powered by the Pratt and Whitney JT3D engine would be emitting vast amounts of smoke when on full power after take off as to gain max power. In tropical conditions it used water injection to increase thrust, creating a massive amount of soot. See more »
Death Drums Along the River is directed by Lawrence Huntingdon who also co-writes the screenplay with Harry Alan Towers and Nicolas Roeg. It stars Richard Todd, Marianne Koch, Albert Lieven and Walter Rilla. A Techniscope/Technicolor production, music is by Sidney Torch and cinematography by Robert Huke.
Out of "Big Ben Films", the story is suggested by Edgar Wallace's Sanders of the River. Filmed on location in South Africa, plot revolves around Todd as Inspector Harry Sanders, who takes up the case when a policeman is killed in pursuit of a man who pocketed a small pouch at the docks. His investigation leads him to a suspicious clinic and pretty soon he is mired in diamond smuggling and other murky goings on.
Well it reads as a good old fashioned detective mystery, swathed in African locales and a chance for mucho sweaty perils that a dashing hero has to overcome. Sadly it's none of those things, for this is utterly dull and lifeless. Film just plays out as a number of talky scenes wrapped around the odd moment of detective work. There's never any flow to the narrative, atmosphere is absent and the acting away from the reliable (even if he is on auto-pilot) Todd is decidedly poor. I swear at one point the humans are out acted by a Crocodile! While the climax is tepid and certainly not worth having sat through 75 minutes of bad film making. It's not even recommended for visuals since the colour photography is flat and the Techniscope rarely livens locations.
Even though it amazingly spawned a sequel of sorts the following year, Coast of Skeletons, this is a poor movie all told, and this even before the PC brigade have a chance to chew over the dated attitudes to race and sex 3/10
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