King Solomon's Mines (1950)

102 or 105 mins | Adventure | 24 November 1950

Writer:

Helen Deutsch

Producer:

Sam Zimbalist

Cinematographer:

Robert Surtees

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Paul Groesse

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The onscreen credits at the begining of this film feature the following acknowledgment: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is grateful beyond measure to the government officials of: Tanganyika, Uganda Protectorate, Kenya Colony and Protectorate [and] Belgian Congo, whose limitless cooperation made this motion picture possible." This picture marked actor Stewart Granger's American film debut. The Var review notes that the Africans who appeared in the film were natives "recruited on the spot" in Africa. A 1952 NYT article noted that the picture was the first major film to be shot almost entirely on location in Africa since M-G-M's 1931 film Trader Horn (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.4726). The article also noted that the elephant stampede sequence in the film was reshot in Hollywood using a trained elephant, as the footage of the actual stampede in Africa was lost when the cast and crew of the film fled from the deadly rush of the animals. According to Feb 1950 NYT news item, filmmaker and explorer Armand Denis and his wife, who were in Africa acting as technical advisors on the picture, suffered injuries requiring plastic surgery when their car hit a hartebeast.
       M-G-M studio publicity material indicates that filming took place at the following locations in Africa: Murchison Falls in Uganda; Astrida, "the land of giant Watusis"; Volcano Country and Stanleyville in Belgian Congo; Tanganyika; and Rumuruti and Machakos in Kenya. The company used Nairobi, Kenya as its location headquarters. A Jan 1950 DV news item announced that M-G-M planned to dub the film in twenty-eight different languages. According to a biography of Deborah ... More Less

The onscreen credits at the begining of this film feature the following acknowledgment: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is grateful beyond measure to the government officials of: Tanganyika, Uganda Protectorate, Kenya Colony and Protectorate [and] Belgian Congo, whose limitless cooperation made this motion picture possible." This picture marked actor Stewart Granger's American film debut. The Var review notes that the Africans who appeared in the film were natives "recruited on the spot" in Africa. A 1952 NYT article noted that the picture was the first major film to be shot almost entirely on location in Africa since M-G-M's 1931 film Trader Horn (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.4726). The article also noted that the elephant stampede sequence in the film was reshot in Hollywood using a trained elephant, as the footage of the actual stampede in Africa was lost when the cast and crew of the film fled from the deadly rush of the animals. According to Feb 1950 NYT news item, filmmaker and explorer Armand Denis and his wife, who were in Africa acting as technical advisors on the picture, suffered injuries requiring plastic surgery when their car hit a hartebeast.
       M-G-M studio publicity material indicates that filming took place at the following locations in Africa: Murchison Falls in Uganda; Astrida, "the land of giant Watusis"; Volcano Country and Stanleyville in Belgian Congo; Tanganyika; and Rumuruti and Machakos in Kenya. The company used Nairobi, Kenya as its location headquarters. A Jan 1950 DV news item announced that M-G-M planned to dub the film in twenty-eight different languages. According to a biography of Deborah Kerr, Kerr landed her role in the film almost inadvertently when she expressed her wish to play the part of "Rose" in C. S. Forester's The African Queen to M-G-M production chief Dore Schary. Schary told her that Warner Bros. had the rights to The African Queen , but that he had a starring role for her in another African-set story that M-G-M owned. King Solomon's Mines received Academy Awards in the categories of Cinematography and Film Editing. The picture was also nominated for an Oscar in the Best Picture category.
       Other films based on H. Rider Haggard's novel include: the 1936 British film King Solomon's Mines , directed by Robert Stevenson and Geoffrey Barkas and starring Paul Robeson and Cedric Hardwicke. In 1959, M-G-M released a film entitled Watusi , that was loosely based on Haggard's novel. That film was directed by Kurt Neumann and starred George Montgomery, Taina Elg and Rex Ingram. Reviews of the 1959 film indicate that M-G-M used some footage of the earlier film for Watusi . Modern sources indicate that leftover footage from its 1950 film was also used in the 1977 Canadian-British film King Solomon's Treasure . Another film based on Haggard's Allan Quatermain is the 1987 Cannon release Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold , which was filmed concurrently with its 1985 King Solomon's Mines and also starred Chamerlain and Stone. Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger reprised their film roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 1 Dec 1952. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Apr 50
pp. 122-23, 136.
Box Office
30 Sep 1950.
---
Daily Variety
26 Jan 1950.
---
Daily Variety
26 Sep 50
p. 3, 10
Film Daily
26 Sep 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 49
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 50
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Sep 50
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
30 Sep 50
p. 501.
New York Times
12 Feb 1950.
---
New York Times
10 Nov 50
p. 35.
New York Times
19 Oct 1952.
---
Variety
27 Sep 50
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
SOUND
Rec supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (London, 1885).
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 November 1950
Production Date:
mid October 1949--early April 1950
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 September 1950
Copyright Number:
LP348
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
102 or 105
Length(in feet):
9,206 , 9,218
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
14499
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In Africa, in 1897, white hunter Allan Quatermain forswears his lifelong search for adventure after losing his native guide in an elephant stampede. His vow is soon broken, however, when he meets Englishwoman Elizabeth Curtis, who persuades him to take her and her brother John Goode on a dangerous expedition into the continent's interior to find her missing husband Henry. As Allan needs money to send to his son in England, he accepts Elizabeth's offer of five thousand English pounds to lead the safari. As his only clue to Henry's whereabouts, Allan is given a crude, four-hundred -year-old map to King Solomon's diamond mines, Henry's destination. From the outset, Allan questions Elizabeth's motives, but his first theory, that she must find Henry's body to claim his inheritance money, proves false when he learns that she is wealthy. The expedition moves slowly toward its first goal, Kalawanna village, an area not visited by a white man in more than five years. When a violent stampede of zebras, giraffes and other wild animals forces the expedition members to take cover, Elizabeth and Allan fall into an accidental embrace. As time passes, a mild but contentious romance between Elizabeth and Allan begins to flourish. Just before approaching Kalawanna, Allan's native escorts encounter a Kalawanna rattle snake, which they know to be a bad omen, and they flee. Elizabeth and John are Allan's only remaining companions until a mysterious and silent native asks to join them. When the four enter the eerie village of Kalawanna, they are immediately taken by the villagers to Kalawanna's only white man, the sinister Smith, who tells them that he ... +


In Africa, in 1897, white hunter Allan Quatermain forswears his lifelong search for adventure after losing his native guide in an elephant stampede. His vow is soon broken, however, when he meets Englishwoman Elizabeth Curtis, who persuades him to take her and her brother John Goode on a dangerous expedition into the continent's interior to find her missing husband Henry. As Allan needs money to send to his son in England, he accepts Elizabeth's offer of five thousand English pounds to lead the safari. As his only clue to Henry's whereabouts, Allan is given a crude, four-hundred -year-old map to King Solomon's diamond mines, Henry's destination. From the outset, Allan questions Elizabeth's motives, but his first theory, that she must find Henry's body to claim his inheritance money, proves false when he learns that she is wealthy. The expedition moves slowly toward its first goal, Kalawanna village, an area not visited by a white man in more than five years. When a violent stampede of zebras, giraffes and other wild animals forces the expedition members to take cover, Elizabeth and Allan fall into an accidental embrace. As time passes, a mild but contentious romance between Elizabeth and Allan begins to flourish. Just before approaching Kalawanna, Allan's native escorts encounter a Kalawanna rattle snake, which they know to be a bad omen, and they flee. Elizabeth and John are Allan's only remaining companions until a mysterious and silent native asks to join them. When the four enter the eerie village of Kalawanna, they are immediately taken by the villagers to Kalawanna's only white man, the sinister Smith, who tells them that he met Henry one year earlier. Allan suddenly remembers that Smith is wanted for cannibalistic murder, and realizing that Smith has no intention of letting them get out alive, he quickly overpowers him and forces him to instruct his army of natives to let them leave. Allan takes Smith hostage to ensure their safe passage, and when Smith tries to escape, Allan shoots him. During a brutal desert passage Allan and Elizabeth find the handle of Henry's rifle, and Allan suspects that Henry is dead. Elizabeth then confesses to Allan that she is searching for Henry as a form of penance for not loving her husband enough and running out on him. Later Allan discovers that their mysterious African companion is a Watusi king returning to claim the kingdom that was stolen from him. Upon entering the Watusi village, the reigning king shows Allan, John and Elizabeth the direction of King Solomon's Mines. The rebel king's apparent hospitality is short-lived, however, as some of his men follow Allan and the others and set off a rockslide to trap them. After discovering a human skull in the mines, the three believe the situation to be hopeless until they discover a passageway to freedom. Allan, John and Elizabeth return to the Watusi village in time to witness the rightful king win his kingdom back from the rebels in a battle. They then begin their journey home. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.