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Victor Marswell runs a big game trapping company in Kenya. Eloise Kelly is ditched there, and an immediate attraction happens between them. Then Mr. and Mrs. Nordley show up for their gorilla documenting safari. Mrs. Nordley is not infatuated with her husband any more, and takes a liking to Marswell. The two men and two women have some difficulty arranging these emotions to their mutual satisfaction, but eventually succeed.Written by
Rob Hardy <email@example.com>
When the casting director told John Ford that British actor Donald Sinden was very serious about his work, Ford promised, "We'll soon knock the hell out of that". Throughout the shoot he picked on the English actor, blaming him personally for all the problems of the Irish people. See more »
When the trio are singing around the piano, Brownie can be seen standing close to Nordley on Nordley's right-hand side. However in the shot of Marswell in the doorway, only Nordley can be seen at the piano in the background - Brownie has disappeared. See more »
Opening Title Card reads: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is grateful beyond measure to the government officials of Kenya Colony, Tanganyika, the Uganda Protectorate and the Republic of French Equatorial Africa, whose limitless co-operation made this motion picture possible. See more »
I think Mogambo may be John Ford's best film technically. The cinematography is simply sumptuous. The colors and the compositions are some of the most beautiful you'll ever see in a film. Too bad it's not in Cinemascope. I would have loved to see those African landscapes in widescreen. The sound is equally deserving of praise. Rare for a classical Hollywood film, Mogambo contains absolutely no extra-diagetic music, i.e., a musical score. The only music comes from a player piano, or African tribes' singing. That singing is just amazing. Most of the background sounds, however, come from African beasts and insects. It provides a threatening mood to the entire film. This experiment pays off wonderfully.
Unfortunately, the narrative aspects of the film are lacking. The story, about an adventurer (Clark Gable) who takes a married couple on a safari to study gorillas, is passable. Actually, the meat of the story lies in the budding relationship between Gable and the wife, played by Grace Kelly (perhaps her role in Rear Window, which came out a year later, was inspired by this film). Ava Gardener plays a second love interest, a society girl from NYC, brazen and witty. The problems don't really arise from the plot, but from the characters. They are two-dimensional. Ava Gardener's role is the best, but the script begins to keep her away from the other relationship, which is treated more romantically. Gable's role is too cliche. It's paper thin, and I just never cared much what happened to him. But I think the real problem is with Kelly and her role. Her character changes in wildly unbelievable ways. It's almost as if she falls in love with Gable because, well, that's what women do when Clark Gable's in a movie! It doesn't matter that she's the second one to do so in the first half hour of the film.
The film also fails because of the vast amounts of stock footage used to show the wildlife of Africa. Often, this is acceptable. It's obvious that that footage was taken at some other time and with some other type of film than the main footage, but I can suspend my imagination up to a point. However, one particular sequence involving gorillas is rather awful. The party has a face-off with a group of them, and there is a lot of cross-cutting to create suspense. It never works. Especially silly are the shots of Gable standing in front of back-projected stock footage of a bull gorilla charging. I suppose these kinds of shots were impossible to fake anywhere near as well as we can do now. But I still find fault in it. It snapped my suspension bridge.
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