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White Witch Doctor (1953)

In 1907, a nurse arrives in the Belgian Congo to work for a missionary doctor but meets a grumpy animal hunter who secretly plans to search for gold in the dangerous Bakuba tribal region.


Henry Hathaway


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Cast overview:
Susan Hayward ... Ellen Burton
Robert Mitchum ... John 'Lonni' Douglas
Walter Slezak ... Huysman
Mashood Ajala Mashood Ajala ... Jacques
Joseph C. Narcisse Joseph C. Narcisse ... Utembo
Elzie Emanuel ... Kapuka
Timothy Carey ... Jarrett
Otis Greene Otis Greene ... Bakuba boy


Ellen Burton arrives in Africa to join Dr. Mary as her nurse, bringing modern medicine to the native peoples. Lonni Douglas, an animal wrangler and fortune hunter, agrees to take her upriver, despite his misgivings about her suitability for Africa. They battle escaped gorillas, hostile natives, infected lion wounds, and hostile witch doctors to reach their destination and on the way, they fall in love. Will their contrasting interests doom their romance? Written by James Callan <james@oz.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The story of a woman who followed a dream to the end of the earth ... and found a love that will live to the end of time !




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Release Date:

9 October 1953 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

De witte tovenares See more »


Box Office


$2,020,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Filmed in california See more »


John 'Lonni' Douglas: We leave at dawn.
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User Reviews

Hayward was a great outdoor actress!
17 November 2002 | by Nazi_Fighter_DavidSee all my reviews

Lonnie Douglas (Robert Mitchum) and his partner, Huysman (Walter Slezak), guide a dedicated nurse Ellen Burton (Susan Hayward) to the distant jungle outpost where she, as a volunteer, has been sent to give medical aid to the natives.. But Huysman and Lonni also have plans of their own: it is said that there is hidden gold in the Bakuba country, and they are determined to find it...

They penetrate the remote interior of the Belgian Congo by means of a primitive canoe propelled by a native crew... At one of their portages Ellen cures a native chief's wife (Dorothy Harris) and the witch doctor, seeking revenge for her interference, tries to kill her with a tarantula, but she manages to escape its poisonous bite...

Later, Lonni saves a boy who has been severely injured fighting a lion... The lad is the son of the Bakuba king and wears a necklace made of gold nuggets—the treasure Lonni and Huysman are seeking... Perhaps this is the opportunity they've been waiting for, Lonni thinks, and devises a plan for using the Bakuba boy to get the gold...

There have been quite a number of Adventurers ladies, the most notably adventurous of whom has perhaps been the aggressive and resilient Susan Hayward who was at her best not in the Oscar-Winning vein of 'I Want to Live,' but roughing it out in the jungle in films like 'White Witch Doctor.'

She was quite capable of blasting Jack Elam with a rifle at the end of 'Rawhide,' and in 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro,' she was tough enough to send the witch doctor packing and go to work with a knife on Gregory Peck who will otherwise die from the infection that was building up in him... Hayward was the great outdoor actress—indoors, she was often a bit too much to take...

This was Hayward's second movie with Robert Mitchum... They were teamed in Nicholas Ray's rodeo movie in 'The Lusty Men' (1952).

Africa was the real star of "White Witch Doctor," with beautiful color shots of the Congo and Bakubas caught in their colorful dances, taken by Leon Shamroy, three times an Oscar winner...

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