1942 US Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||Richard Thorpe|
|Produced by||Victor Saville|
|Written by||Leon Gordon|
|Music by||Bronislau Kaper|
|Cinematography||Harry Stradling Sr.|
|Editing by||Fredrick Y. Smith|
|Release dates||December 12, 1942|
|Running time||88 minutes|
Set in 1910, it is based on the 1923 London and Broadway hit play by Leon Gordon, which was in turn adapted from the novel Hell's Playground by Ida Vera Simonton. The play had already been made into a British part-talkie with Maurice Evans in 1929.
The story centers around two white colonizers who are both interested in Tondelayo, a half Egyptian, half Arab native. In the original play, the character Tondelayo was black, but her background was changed for the movie to avoid violating the production code. The role became one of Hedy Lamarr's most famous.
The 1942 film, unlike the play, begins in what was then the present day, and uses a flashback technique.
- Hedy Lamarr as Tondelayo
- Walter Pidgeon as Mr. Harry Witzel
- Frank Morgan as The Doctor
- Richard Carlson as Mr. Langford
- Reginald Owen as Skipper of the Congo Queen
- Production Dates: 18 May-early Jul 1942
- According to the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA collection at the AMPAS Library, the miscegenation element of Leon Gordon's story caused great censorship difficulties, beginning with the U.S. distribution of a 1929 British screen adaptation of his play, also entitled White Cargo. As noted in articles included in the MPAA/PCA files, in accordance with the MPPA's 1924 agreement of self-imposed censorship, MPPA head Will Hays deemed the play unacceptable material for screen adaptation and effectively banned any studios from producing it. [In the play, "Tondelayo" is described throughout as a "negress."] The March 1930 New York release of the British film, which was directed by J. B. Williams and Arthur Barnes and starred Leslie Faber and Gypsy Rhouma, generated complaints from industry insiders, who felt that its distribution in the U.S. violated the spirit of Hays's decree.
- Thomas F. Brady. "Another Script from the Hollywood Laundry". The New York Times, May 17, 1942, section 8, p. 3.
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