Fortune hunter Patrick O'Brien has left his daughter Kathy and guide Umbopa to trek across the desert in hopes of finding the fabled diamond mines of Solomon. Worried about her father, Kathy persuades hunter Allan Quartermain to lead a party to rescue him. After surviving the desert they are found by natives and brought to their chief, Twala. Umbopa reveals himself to be the true heir to the tribal throne, having been exiled years earlier by Twala and the tribal witch, Gagool. Quartermain's only hope to gain access to the mines and the possible rescue of O'Brien is to try to help Umbopa regain his rightful place as chief.Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film was thought lost for years. It was believed the negative was ceded to MGM when the studio acquired remake rights in 1950. When MGM denied it, it was believed to have been assigned to Pinewood Lake on the studio's property, a watery grave that contains cans and reels of unstable nitrate films. When it did turn up, it was in Rank's Pinewood vaults. See more »
The opening credits list Cedric Hardwicke as Allan Quartermain. However, following the credits his diary reads "The Diary of Alan Quartermain, White Hunter 1881-1882." See more »
Respectable early entry in the King Solomon's Mines sweepstakes. (No need to recap the plot.) Except for a few scenic shots of the overland trek, the movie doesn't really come alive until the last half-hour, but from then on it's near-brilliant. The sweeping shots of warrior armies advancing across the veldt, the close-in shots of the defenders with their magnificent shields, the pageantry and tomfoolery of the royal court, but most of all, the ghastly assassination squad led by the whims of a hump-back hag who moves like a creeping disease. I've seen nothing like her (Sydney Fairbrother) before or since, but her crab-like crawl over the gateway rock may make you rethink the pace of evolution. Also, the white-hot caldera with the clinging ledge above amounts to a spine-tingling effect for any movie period. I'm not even sure Technicolor could have improved on the staging of these remarkable scenes.
Now, there are no seams that I can spot during this stellar last half-hour. I couldn't tell whether the scenes were done on location in Africa or maybe even Great Britain. However the earlier scenes of the trek are marred by obvious inter-cutting between long-shot locations and close-in exterior sets poorly done. For me, this breaks the spell and indicates a curious lapse in an otherwise well produced adventure film. Lee and Robeson are spirited and commanding as central figures. However, I agree with a reviewer's observation that Loder would have made a more convincing Quartermain than the stiff-backed Hardwicke. Also, Hardwicke and Young behave more like they belong in a gentleman's smoking club than footloose in the wilds of Africa, while Young's wry asides are strictly a matter of taste and, in my view, a lame attempt at comic relief.
Nonetheless, this 1937 production is definitely worth catching up with, especially for those who have never seen or heard the great Paul Robeson.
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