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A hard film to like--especially in this day and age.
Cecil Rhodes is NOT an easy guy to like here in the 21st century. While back in his day he was hailed as a hero, he was also the guy who started De Beers (the diamond monopoly) and was the poster boy for colonialism--having been the leader of Cape Colony (South Africa) and having started Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)--two of the more racist nations at the time. He also had a huge part in orchestrating the bloody Boer War at the turn of the 19th century. So, it's not surprising that we don't see more biographies of the man--pro-colonialism films died out a long time ago.
This 1936 film is not especially good. First, it is dry as dust and often looks more like a documentary instead of a feature film--a very DRY documentary. Second, how good could such a biography be when they cast the VERY American Walter Huston in the lead?! Sure, he was a very fine actor...and totally wrong as the British Rhodes. Third, while the film SHOULD have been beautiful an expansive, it's obvious that the film was made in a studio--not the lovely South African countryside. And, the film lacks music that might have made the whole thing look and SOUND grand. Instead, it was just flat and dull.
By the way, Rhodes was, perhaps, the strongest supporter of colonialism in history and hoped to one day have Britain take control of Africa, the Middle East and even return the United States to its colonial empire! Now I would have loved to have heard this in the film!
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