Something of Value

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Something of Value
Something of Value 1957.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byRichard Brooks
Produced byPandro S. Berman
Written byRichard Brooks
Based onnovel by Robert Ruark
StarringRock Hudson
Dana Wynter
Sidney Poitier
Wendy Hiller
Music byMiklós Rózsa
CinematographyRussell Harlan
Edited byFerris Webster
Distributed byMGM
Release date
  • May 10, 1957 (1957-05-10) (U.S.)
Running time
113 Min
CountryUnited States
Box office$3,600,000[1]

Something of Value is a 1957 drama directed by Richard Brooks and starring Rock Hudson, Dana Wynter, and Sidney Poitier. The film was reissued under the title Africa Ablaze.

The film, based on the book of the same name by Robert Ruark, portrays the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya. It shows the colonial and native African conflict caused by colonialism and differing views on how life should be lived. It stars Rock Hudson as the colonial and Sidney Poitier as the native Kenyan. The two men grew up together but have drifted apart at maturity.


Kikuyu tribal members work on Henry McKenzie's farm in 1940s Kenya. Two young men, Kenyan native Kimani and Henry's son Peter, have grown up together, almost like brothers.

Prejudices surface when Peter's brother-in-law Jeff Newton slaps the face of Kimani after his request to use a rifle. Kimani leaves the farm, but is carried back by Peter after having caught his foot in a trap.

Mau Mau tribesmen plot an insurrection as Kenya's tensions rise. Kimani sides with them and is asked to steal a supply of rifles as a test. He parts ways for many years with Peter, who becomes a safari leader to help raise money for the farm. His fiancée Holly Keith arrives and they intend to marry.

Kimani impregnates the daughter of a Mau Mau tribal elder. A raid on the farm results in the murders of Newton and his children. British forces retaliate by bombing a Mau Mau encampment, taking tribesmen prisoner and torturing them.

Peter wants to continue his life in Africa, but troubles worsen when Holly must fight off Mau Mau warriors. Henry hastily gets her and Newton's wife to safety in Nairobi. Peter goes looking for Kimani, who has been identified as the leader of the Mau Mau raiding party that killed his brother-in-law and Newton's children. They fight to the death, Kimani ultimately falling into a pit of bamboo spikes.



In January 1955 MGM announced they had bought the film rights to the novel for $300,000. The novel was published in April.[2] The New York Times wrote of the book that "the explosive impact of Robert Ruark's 'Something of Value' will reverberate for a long time to come on both sides of the Atlantic."[3]

The film was originally announced for Grace Kelly. It was to follow a proposed remake of The Barretts of Wimpole Street.[4]

Producer Pandro S. Berman assigned the script to Richard Brooks, who undertook a research trip to Kenya.[5]

At one stage British actor Bill Travers, then under contract to MGM, was discussed as a possible lead.[6] Elizabeth Taylor was mentioned as a possible female lead.[7]

In May 1956 it was announced Sidney Poitier would play the role of Kimani[8] and Rock Hudson would be borrowed from Universal to play the lead.[9] Filming began in July.


According to MGM records, the movie earned $2.1 million in the US and $1.5 million overseas, for a net loss of $410,000.[1]

The movie was the sole American entry at the Venice Film Festival.[10]

It was re-released in 1962 with the title Africa Ablaze.[11]


Ruark published a sequel to his original novel in 1962 called Uhuru. No film resulted.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. ^ M-G-M BUYS RIGHTS TO RUARK'S NOVEL: Studio Will Film 'Something of Value,' a Drama Set in Post-War Africa By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 Jan 1955: 31.
  3. ^ THE NIGHTMARE THAT ENGULFED A LAND: SOMETHING OF VALUE. By Robert Ruark. 566 pp. New York: Doubleday & Co. $5. A Novel of Life in Kenya and the Upheaval Caused by the Terrorism of the Mau Mau By JOHN BARKHAM. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 24 Apr 1955: BR1.
  4. ^ Grace Kelly's Future Blooming; Lana Turner Film Found by Thorpe Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 01 Apr 1955: B11.
  5. ^ Weiler, A. H. (10 April 1955). "Richard Brooks Plans to Film 'Elmer Gantry'--Italian Beauty--Addenda". The New York Times. p. X5.
  6. ^ Schallert, Edwin (22 Oct 1955). "Drama: 'Something of Value' Bid DNow Centers on Travers; John Williams Resuming". Los Angeles Times. p. 13.
  7. ^ Parsons, Louella (23 November 1955). "Jose Ferrer Will Direct 'Great Man'". The Washington Post and Times Herald. p. 22.
  8. ^ Pryor, Thomas M. (11 May 1956). "FILM DEBUT NEARS FOR ANDY GRIFFITH: 'No Time for Sergeants' Star Will Appear in Kazan's 'A Face in the Crowd' 'Grass' to Rise Again". The New York Times. p. 22.
  9. ^ Pryor, Thomas M. (30 May 1956). "ROCK HUDSON GETS METRO FILM ROLE: Actor Will Appear in Movie Version of Ruark Novel, 'Something of Value' Ed Begley in Fonda Film". The New York Times. p. 12.
  10. ^ "MGM Film to Be Only U.S. Entry at Venice Festival". Los Angeles Times. 19 July 1957. p. 4.
  11. ^ Kilgallen, Dorothy (15 December 1962). "Headlines Call Back Flop Film with Rock". The Washington Post, Times Herald. p. D10.
  12. ^ "Robert Ruark Dead in London; Author and Columnist Was 49: Scripps-Howard Writer Was Often Controversial; Wrote 'Something of Value'". The New York Times. 1 July 1965. p. 31.
  13. ^ Barkham, John (24 June 1962). "Nightmare in a Land of Charm". The New York Times. p. 218.

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