34 user 6 critic

White Cargo (1942)

The story takes place at a British plantation in Africa where Tondelayo entices all the Brits, especially Harry Witzel.


Richard Thorpe


Ida Vera Simonton (novel), Leon Gordon (play) | 1 more credit »


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Stars: Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr, Verree Teasdale


Complete credited cast:
Hedy Lamarr ... Tondelayo
Walter Pidgeon ... Harry Witzel
Frank Morgan ... The Doctor
Richard Carlson ... Mr. Langford
Reginald Owen ... Skipper of the Congo Queen
Henry O'Neill ... The Reverend Dr. Roberts
Bramwell Fletcher ... Wilbur Ashley
Clyde Cook ... Ted - First Mate of the Congo Queen
Leigh Whipper Leigh Whipper ... Jim Fish
Oscar Polk ... Umeela
Darby Jones ... Darby - The Doctor's Houseboy
Richard Ainley ... Mr. Worthing


In Africa early in World War II, a British rubber plantation executive reminisces about his arrival in the Congo in 1910. He tells the story of a love-hate triangle involving Harry Witzel, an in-country station superintendent who'd seen it all, Langford, a new manager sent from England for a four-year stint, and Tondelayo, a siren of great beauty who desires silk and baubles. Witzel is gruff and seasoned, certain that Langford won't be able to cut it. Langford responds with determination and anger, attracted to Tondelayo because of her beauty, her wiles, and to get at Witzel. Manipulation, jealousy, revenge, and responsibility play out as alliances within the triangle shift. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Adventure | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

12 December 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Mestiça See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The play opened on Broadway, New York City, New York, USA on 5 November 1923 and had 257 performances. See more »


The movie is takes place at a West African British colony along the Congo River. However, the Congo is in Central Africa where there are no British Colonies along the river. See more »


The Doctor: I've told you, Witzel, a few months in a temperate climate...
Mr. Harry Witzel: Oh, drop that bedside manner. You aren't talking to Ashley, you're talking to me.
The Doctor: Well, at least I'm glad he's going home.
Mr. Harry Witzel: Yeah, of course, you're glad. It doesn't mean a blasted thing to you that I've got to break in a new jellyfish that they're sending out from the home office. And I know just the type he'll be. Come out here with a whole supply of stiff linen collars and ask me a million asinine questions an hour. "I say, how's ...
See more »


Featured in That's Action (1977) See more »


Under the Bamboo Tree
(1902) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Bob Cole, James Weldon Johnson and Rosamond Johnson
Played on a record in Langford's quarters
See more »

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User Reviews

Query: Is "acclimatize" a word or not?
6 July 2005 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

This film is given only a five by me - I stayed up late one night to see it, because I wanted to see Hedy Lamarr in one of her most famous performances. It was about 1971, in the summertime (so it was sultry weather - good to see such a tropical film). Hedy was good to watch, although her character's dialog and fate were odd. The other cast members, Frank Morgan and Richard Carlson, acted well. But it was watching Walter Pigeon getting all riled up, not only due to the antics of Todelayo but because he could not stand the word "acclimatize" being used that lasted longest in my memory.

The story is one of jungle rot. Pigeon , Carlson, and Morgan (and other males in the cast) are working on a plantation in Africa, and life there is not made easier by the arrival of Lamarr, a half-breed (as they called so-called non-white temptresses in the days of the Hollywood "code"). She snares Carlson, who stupidly marries her. She only sees him as good for buying her luxuries and giving her a meal ticket.


When she finally tires of Carlson, Hedy starts poisoning him. Pigeon learns what she is doing, and forces her to drink the poison - and she runs out screaming (supposedly to die alone somewhere in the jungle).

The story is impossibly melodramatic claptrap today - I can't imagine a remake without miles of rewriting. It was produced in 1923 on Broadway by Earl Carroll, a man who is now totally forgotten. While Florenz Ziegfeld had his failings, he is remembered fondly as a great theatrical producer with taste - his "Follies" had many truly beautiful women in them, but also leading comedians like W.C.Fields, Ed Wynn, Will Rogers, Raymond Hatton, Fanny Brice, and music by Jerome Kern, Victor Herbert, George Gershwin. His classy "Glorifying the American Woman" with extravagant costumes really set a standard that is still recalled. Carroll wanted to be Ziegfeld, and created his "Vanities". He too had some good comics working for him, such as Fields (one year), Jimmy Savo, even Jack Benny. But while Ziegfeld dressed up his ladies, Carroll skirted the edge trying to show women as close to naked as possible. Still, for some two decades Carroll remained a well known figure in New York (and later Hollywood) producing. This despite a six month jail sentence in Atlanta Federal Penitentiary (in 1926) for lying to a Federal Grand Jury when it was revealed he used illegal booze at a party.

He did lie (it was not too healthy to reveal who was your friendly bootlegger). Actually the thing people did not realize about Carroll's party was that it was to honor his fellow Pittsburgh citizen, Harry K. Thaw. The murderer of Stanford White was a potential show biz "angel", and when he showed up Carroll yelled, "Here's Harry Thaw! Three cheers for Harry!". That Carroll could say that showed his real lack of character. I doubt if Ziegfeld would have done it.

Carroll (like Ziegfeld) did produce shows that were not his typical reviews. But Ziegfeld produced shows like SHOWBOAT and THE THREE MUSKETEERS. Carroll produced shows like WHITE CARGO. Carroll claimed it was great art - but he knew that a racially mixed love or lust affair was going to bring in many customers (especially men). Carroll always tried to wrap himself with some first amendment shield or high art shield. It fooled nobody.

If you have the time on a wet afternoon, with nothing better to do, then you have reason to catch WHITE CARGO. If you have something better to do, I'd recommend doing it.

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