In San Francisco in 1850, a Russian Countess runs away from an arranged marriage to a Russian Prince and falls into the arms of an American sea captain who occasionally poaches seals in Russian Alaska.
As writer Harry Street lays gravely wounded from an African hunting accident he feverishly reflects on what he perceives as his failures at love and writing. Through his delirium he recalls his one true love Cynthia Green who he lost by his obsession for roaming the world in search of stories for his novels. Though she is dead Cynthia continues to haunt Street's thoughts. In spite of one successful novel after another, Street feels he has compromised his talent to ensure the success of his books, making him a failure in his eyes. His neglected wife Helen tends to his wounds, listens to his ranting, endures his talk of lost loves, and tries to restore in him the will to fight his illness until help arrives. Her devotion to him makes him finally realize that he is not a failure. With his realization of a chance for love and happiness with Helen, he regains his will to live.Written by
E.W. DesMarais <firstname.lastname@example.org>
At sunset on the day of the rhino hunt a number of animal noises are heard simultaneously. One might hear hyenas around sunset, not the others. Lions can be heard lowing just before dawn and late in the evening around nine or ten. Elephants would not be making any noise unless they were threatened. See more »
Why is it everyone who comes to Africa has to write a book about it? One silly beggar even dedicated his to me! Never came back or I'd have shot him in the pants!
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So-so film that is never as complex or as tragic as it should have been and is a lot less interesting for it
Having saved a young man from a hippo, writer Harry Street lies dying from an infection in his African safari campsite. As his unappreciated wife Helen tends to his wounds and ensures him everything will be alright, Harry sinks into feverish reminiscing about a life that he perceives as being a failure in terms of both writing and his love life. He recalls the one woman that he believes he truly loved which, helpfully for Helen, isn't his current wife but a woman called Cynthia Green whom he met in Paris. The more he recalls the deeper his depression and the more Helen watches him surrendering his fight and will to live.
Taking a "deathbed" flashback structure we always know that things between Harry and his other loves didn't work out and the only question is "why". On paper we are meant to be with a bitter angry man who is facing death with a superficial devil-may-care attitude but underneath carries a deep sense of regret. The first problem I encountered with the film was that the script didn't carry this off very well at all and I wasn't convinced about the supposed years of failure that are stacked on top of Harry people with such things have much more baggage than came out here. The flashbacks are reasonable interesting but are closer to melodrama than a searing tale of regret and loss, which personally I thought it should have been. The film does flit around the world which must have been a selling point for it at the time of release but it doesn't actually add much to the story or characters other than providing a different background for some scenes.
King's direction is fairly workmanlike; he enjoys the locations but the mix of his footage with stock footage doesn't sit well together I know it is a limitation of the period but it still doesn't work. Peck is solid enough in the lead but he does the superficial things and doesn't get to grips with anything deeper or more complex. He gets no help from Hayward who is watching her husband long for women past but never appears to have any problem with this whatsoever. Gardner is pretty but again she doesn't convince in her character when asked to do anything more (seeing her in the middle of the Spanish civil war was pretty funny as well). Support from Leo G Carroll is always welcome but he doesn't have much to work with here.
Overall this is a so-so film that never fulfils its potential or is as engaging as it should have been. Instead of being complex and full of pain it is melodramatic and soapy; instead of being about the tragic souls of the characters it seems to have as much interest in stock footage and global locations. The cast give solid but superficial performances in response to this and the film never really gets a handle on any of it.
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