Kongo (1932 film)
Walter Huston and Lupe Vélez
|Directed by||William J. Cowen
Errol Taggart (asst. director)
|Produced by||Louis B. Mayer
|Written by||Chester De Vonde (play)
Kilbourn Gordon (play)
Leon Gordon (screenplay)
C. Henry Gordon
|Edited by||Conrad A. Nervig|
|October 1, 1932|
Kongo (1932) is a talking Pre-Code film produced and distributed by MGM, directed by William J. Cowen, and starring Walter Huston, Lupe Vélez, and Virginia Bruce in this adaptation of the 1926 Broadway play, which had starred Huston.
This film is also a remake of the 1928 film West of Zanzibar, directed by Tod Browning and starring Lon Chaney and Lionel Barrymore, which itself was also based on the 1926 play. Kongo was shot on the same sets as Red Dust, and made the same year as Freaks .
Kongo has been a rarely seen film through the decades, but in recent years it has appeared on Turner Classic Movies. The film was released on DVD as part of the Warner Archive Collection series on May 3, 2011.
"Deadlegs" Flint, an embittered paraplegic who lives in the Kongo, controls the natives by using cheap tricks that appear to be magical. His mistress Tula assists him in his magic tricks, as do two thugs, Hogan and Cookie, and the loyal native Fuzzy. Flint has spent the last eighteen years planning revenge against a man named Gregg who stole his wife and took her away from the jungle. Flint has built an eighty-mile, fortified encirclement of his compound that prevents anyone from entering or leaving without Flint's consent. Having learned that Gregg's daughter is now grown, Flint sends Hogan to bring her back from a convent school in Cape Town. There the girl, called Ann Whitehall, willingly goes with Hogan, because Hogan is dressed like a missionary and says that he will take her to her father. Two years later, Ann has become a prisoner at Flint's camp. After spending months confined to a brothel in Zanzibar, Ann has become a hardened alcoholic, who does Flint's bidding for whiskey, and has no idea why he has brought her to his camp. When a cynical, drug-addicted doctor named Kingsland arrives at the camp, he and Ann fall in love. Flint, who needs Kingsland to be free from drugs in order to perform an operation on his legs, places the doctor in the swamp so that leeches can suck all of the drugs' poison out of his system. Flint also tolerates Ann's relationship with the doctor and its purifying effect, even while he ridicules her. Some time after the operation, Gregg arrives at the camp, summoned by Flint, who has stolen a large shipment of his rival's ivory. Flint hopes to have the ultimate revenge against Gregg by showing him his daughter Ann, then having him killed and Ann burned in a native sacrifice. Flint taunts Gregg until Gregg finally recognizes Flint for the man he once knew as Rutledge. Years before, when Gregg was known as Whitehall, he ran away with Flint's wife after kicking Flint in the back and leaving him for dead. From that time, Flint plotted his revenge against the girl whom he thought was Gregg's daughter. When Gregg proves, however, that Ann is actually Flint's daughter, Flint is stunned, and begs Gregg not to leave the compound or he will be killed. Gregg does not listen to his old enemy and leaves, after which the natives kill him. Now desperate to save Ann from the natives' fire, Flint arranges for her and Kingsland to escape though an outlet in the swamp that only Fuzzy knows. Just before Flint dies trying to keep the natives at bay, he prays that Ann will get away safely with Kingsland. Some time later, Kingsland and Ann are on a boat sailing away from Africa, about to be married by the ship's captain.
- Walter Huston - 'Deadlegs' Flint
- Lupe Vélez - Tula
- Conrad Nagel - Dr. Kingsland
- Virginia Bruce - Ann Whitehall
- C. Henry Gordon - Gregg (aka Whitehall)
- Mitchell Lewis - Hogan
- Forrester Harvey - Cookie Harris
- Curtis Nero - Fuzzy
- Everett Brown - Native Reporting to Gregg
- Charles Irwin - Carl
- Sarah Padden - Nun at Convent
- The AFI Catalog of Feature Films: Kongo
- Kongo, stage play, as produced on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre, March 30, 1926 to July 1926; IBDb.com database
- The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1931-40 by The American Film Institute, c.1993
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