White Witch Doctor (film)
|White Witch Doctor|
Original lobby card
|Directed by||Henry Hathaway|
|Produced by||Otto Lang|
|Written by||Louise A. Stinetorf (novel)
|Music by||Bernard Herrmann|
|Edited by||James B. Clark|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release date(s)||1 July 1953|
|Running time||96 min|
|Box office||$2,500,000 (US rentals)|
White Witch Doctor is a 1953 adventure film made by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by Henry Hathaway and produced by Otto Lang from a screenplay by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, based on the 1950 novel by Louise A. Stinetorf. The music score (notable for its use of the serpent, an obsolete instrument) was by Bernard Herrmann, and the cinematography by Leon Shamroy.
The arrival of nurse Ellen Burton to the Belgian Congo is unwelcome to hunter John "Lonni" Douglas, who captures animals for zoos. He warns her against traveling upriver to join a female doctor who is working with native tribesmen.
Short of money, Lonni is intrigued when partner Huysman tells him there is gold to be found in the region where Ellen will be traveling. Lonni volunteers to accompany her, along with gun bearer Jacques.
Ellen is a widow who once discouraged her physician husband from his dream of coming to Africa to give medical aid. She talks a witch doctor out of killing a woman with an abscessed tooth. Upset with her, the witch doctor places a deadly tarantula in Ellen's tent.
The doctor she is there to assist has died of fever. The king is pleased when his son is saved from a lion by Lonni, his wounds treated by Ellen, but then the king takes her hostage when Huysman, heavily armed, arrives to search for gold. Huysman's men knock Lonni unconscious and tie him up, but Jacques sacrifices his own life to save that of Lonni, who returns to Ellen's side for good.
Henry Hathaway filmed footage in Africa, but the majority of the film was shot on Fox's studio backlot. The head of 20th Century Fox Darryl F. Zanuck demanded that [Emily] Louise Allender Stinetorf's (who had been a Quaker missionary in Palestine) original story be jettisoned for action and a love story.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p248
- 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1953', Variety, January 13, 1954
- p.206 Reid, John These Movies Won No Hollywood Awards Lulu.com, 2005
- p. 208 Behlmer, Rudy Memo from Darryl F. Zanuck: The Golden Years at Twentieth Century-Fox Grove Press, 1995