Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Overlooked Movies: King Solomon's Mines

There's a good bit of nostalgia involved in these postings about overlooked movies.  I first saw this version of H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines when I was eight or nine years old, and that must have been just about the perfect time.  I have no doubt that seeing it had a huge influence on my tastes in reading and movies for the rest of my life. 

Stewart Granger plays Alan Quatermain, and he was great in the role of an angsty white hunter. This film and Scarmouche made me a fan for life.  And I had a crush on Deborah Kerr ever afterward.  She's a woman who's come to Africa looking for her husband, who's disappeared while searching for the fabled mines of King Solomon's.  Richard Carlson is her brother, who's come along to help out. 

Every movie (probably all Tarzan films) I'd seen about Africa up to this point in my life had been filmed on Hollywood back lots.  This one was the real thing, Africa in full Technicolor glory.  The scenery and action scenes are still breath-taking even now.

The movie is essentially a road trip through Africa, though there's plenty of plot, too, with secret tribes, a wrongly deposed king, villains, trial by combat, danger lurking everywhere, and of course those mines. Wonderful stuff.  I loved it when I was eight years old, and the eight-year-old that lives in me now loves it still.

7 comments:

Tom Johnson said...

I loved the movie, even if Debra Kerr never had a hair out of place in that hot, humid jungle trek (ha).

pattinase (abbott) said...

I loved it too!

Bill Crider said...

I'm glad to see that there are some other fans!

Anonymous said...

There is a real life elephant shot dead. You can see graphically the bullet smashing into his skull. Other elephants try to help him but the shooting drives them off I was only ten but i was so disguisted i was the only time i walked out of a movie

Fred Blosser said...

I'm still waiting for a faithful version of the Haggard novel, where Sir Henry Curtis fights in a chain-mail shirt from a lost civilization and lops off the villainous Twala's head in a fight with battle axes, the Englishmen find a "round table" of all the dead old Kukuana kings in the mine, Gagool gets crushed under the stone door, and the proper Captain Good and the Kukuana girl Foulata fall in love -- an 1886 interracial romance! Haggard was a titan, and Hollywood has never done him justice.

Bill Crider said...

The decapitation scene in the book really shook me up when I read it long, long ago. Probably not too long after I saw the movie. Very vivid.

Yvette said...

I love this movie, Bill. It's one of my all time favorites. Saw it in the theater when it first came out and whenever it popped up on television thereafter, I would drop everything to watch yet again.

One of the things I love best about it is the dance of those very tall Watutsi warriors sequence near the end.

I fell in love with Stewart Granger too. Who wouldn't?