King Solomon's Mines (1950 film)

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King Solomon's Mines
Kingsolomonsmines1950.jpg
Promotional film poster
Directed by Compton Bennett
Andrew Marton
Produced by Sam Zimbalist
Written by H. Rider Haggard (novel)
Helen Deutsch (screenplay)
Starring Deborah Kerr
Stewart Granger
Richard Carlson
Music by Mischa Spoliansky
Cinematography Robert Surtees
Editing by Ralph E. Winters
Conrad A. Nervig
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates November 24, 1950 (1950-11-24)
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,258,000[1]
Box office $9,955,000[1]

King Solomon's Mines is a 1950 adventure film, the second of five film adaptations of the 1885 novel by the same name by Henry Rider Haggard. It stars Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger and Richard Carlson. It was adapted by Helen Deutsch, directed by Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Plot[edit]

Allan Quatermain (Stewart Granger), an experienced hunter and guide, reluctantly agrees to help Elizabeth Curtis (Deborah Kerr) and her brother John Goode (Richard Carlson) search for her husband, who disappeared in the unexplored African interior while searching for the legendary mines. They have a copy of the map he used. A tall, mysterious native, Umbopa (Siriaque), joins the safari. Quartermain has no use for women on a safari, but during the long and grueling journey, they begin falling in love.

The party encounters Van Brun (Hugo Haas), a lone white man living with a tribe. They learn that he met Curtis. However, when Allan recognizes him as a fugitive who cannot afford to let them go, they take him hostage to leave the village safely. Van Brun tries to shoot Allan, killing his faithful right hand man Khiva (Kimursi). Allan dispatches Van Brun and the party flees from the angry villagers.

When they finally reach the region where the mines are supposed to be, they are met by people who resemble Umbopa. They discover that their companion is royalty; he has returned to attempt to dethrone the evil King Twala (Baziga). Umbopa leaves with his supporters, while Allan, Elizabeth and John travel to a tense meeting with Twala. With his last rifle bullet, John kills a would-be attacker, temporarily quelling the natives.

The king's advisor, Gagool (Sekaryongo), communicates that they have seen Curtis and leads them to a cave that contains a trove of jewels and in which they find the skeletal remains of Elizabeth's husband. While they are distracted by this discovery, Gagool sneaks away and triggers a booby trap that seals them inside the cave. Leaving the jewels behind, they find a way out through an underground stream and return to the settlement, just as Umbopa and his followers arrive.

Umbopa's people have an unusual method of deciding the kingship. The two claimants duel to the death. Despite cheating by one of Twala's men, Umbopa wins. Afterwards, he provides an escort for his friends' return trip.

Cast[edit]

  • Deborah Kerr as Elizabeth Curtis
  • Stewart Granger as Allan Quatermain
  • Richard Carlson as John Goode
  • Hugo Haas as Van Brun a.k.a. Smith
  • Lowell Gilmore as Eric Masters, District Commissioner
  • Kimursi as Khiva, Chief Bearer in Red Fez (as Kimursi of the Kipsigi Tribe)
  • Siriaque as Umbopa, Tall Prince-in-Exile
  • Sekaryongo as Chief Gagool, Witch-like Guide to Diamond Mines
  • Baziga as King Twala, Usurper (as Baziga of the Watussi Tribe)

Production[edit]

Like virtually all film versions, this also changes Haggard's plot to include a female lead. But it strays even further from the novel than the 1937 British adaptation King Solomon's Mines. There are several African characters in the book, particularly Umbopa, a king in disguise. In the earlier film, Paul Robeson received top billing for the role, whereas in this version, Umbopa's importance is greatly reduced.

According to Robert Osborne, Errol Flynn was offered the role of Quatermain, but chose instead to star in Kim. This paved the way for Granger's rise to stardom, as King Solomon's Mines proved to be much more popular.

Filming took place at the following locations in Africa: Murchison Falls in Uganda; Astrida, "the land of giant Watusis"; Volcano Country and Stanleyville in the Belgian Congo; Tanganyika; and Rumuruti and Machakos in Kenya.[2][3] The film marked the beginning of Eva Monley's career as a Hollywood location scout and producer, specializing in Africa.[3] Monley received her first film job as a script supervisor and assistant during production of King Solomon's Mines.[3] Additionally, the cave sceen was filmed in the Slaughter Canyon Cave in Carlsbad Caverns National Park and other sceens at nearby Sitting Bull Falls in Lincoln National Forest, both in New Mexico, USA.

Reception[edit]

The movie was the third most popular film at the British box office in 1951.[4] It earned $5,047,000 in the US and Canada $4,908,000 elsewhere. After production and other associate costs were deducted, the movie made a profit of $4,049,000, making it easily MGM's most successful film of 1950.[1]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Robert L. Surtees won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Colour, while Ralph E. Winters and Conrad A. Nervig won for Best Film Editing. The film was nominated for Best Picture.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c 'The Eddie Mannix Ledger’, Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study, Los Angeles
  2. ^ "King Solomon's Mines (1950): Notes". Turner Classic Movies. 
  3. ^ a b c "Eva Monley dies at 88". Variety Magazine. 2011-11-21. Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  4. ^ "Vivien Leigh Actress Of The Year.". Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954) (Qld.: National Library of Australia). 29 December 1951. p. 1. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 

External links[edit]