Sundown (1941)

9 mins | Drama | 31 October 1941

Director:

Henry Hathaway

Cinematographer:

Charles Lang Jr.

Editor:

Dorothy Spencer

Production Designer:

Alexander Golitzen

Production Company:

Walter Wanger Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

Barre Lyndon's novel was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post (18 Jan--22 Feb 1941). The opening credits include the following written dedication: "All over the world today a few men by their courage and faith are serving many. To them this motion picture is dedicated." A 3 Apr 1941 HR news item stated that Jules Furthman was to write the screenplay, but his participation in the completed film has not been confirmed. According to HR news items, director Henry Hathaway was borrowed from Paramount for the film. Wanger was allowed to borrow Gene Tierney from Twentieth Century-Fox on the condition she receive "solo star billing." Woody Strode, who is listed in the CBCS as Woodrow Strode, made his screen acting debut in the picture. Strode was also a football player who, along with Kenny Washington, was the first African-American to play in the National Football League.
       The film was shot on location in Ship Rock and other New Mexico locations; Mojave Desert, CA; and Crater Lake, OR, according to contemporary news items. The film received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Interior Decoration (Black and White), Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic Picture) and Best Cinematography (Black and White). The FD review commended the film for its political neutrality, noting that "...while it is known that the 'enemy' is Germany, no names or nationalities are mentioned, so there is no possibility of local dissension on the 'propaganda' ... More Less

Barre Lyndon's novel was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post (18 Jan--22 Feb 1941). The opening credits include the following written dedication: "All over the world today a few men by their courage and faith are serving many. To them this motion picture is dedicated." A 3 Apr 1941 HR news item stated that Jules Furthman was to write the screenplay, but his participation in the completed film has not been confirmed. According to HR news items, director Henry Hathaway was borrowed from Paramount for the film. Wanger was allowed to borrow Gene Tierney from Twentieth Century-Fox on the condition she receive "solo star billing." Woody Strode, who is listed in the CBCS as Woodrow Strode, made his screen acting debut in the picture. Strode was also a football player who, along with Kenny Washington, was the first African-American to play in the National Football League.
       The film was shot on location in Ship Rock and other New Mexico locations; Mojave Desert, CA; and Crater Lake, OR, according to contemporary news items. The film received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Interior Decoration (Black and White), Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic Picture) and Best Cinematography (Black and White). The FD review commended the film for its political neutrality, noting that "...while it is known that the 'enemy' is Germany, no names or nationalities are mentioned, so there is no possibility of local dissension on the 'propaganda' score." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Aug 41
p. 364.
American Cinematographer
Oct 41
p. 475.
Box Office
18 Oct 1941.
---
California Eagle
19 Jun 41
p. 2b.
California Eagle
3 Jul 41
p. 2b.
Daily Variety
13 Oct 1941.
---
Film Daily
20 Oct 41
p. 10.
Hollywood Citizen-News
17 Oct 1941.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Apr 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 41
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 41
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 41
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 41
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Aug 41
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 41
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Oct 41
p. 318.
New York Times
26 Dec 41
p. 21.
Variety
15 Oct 41
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Miss Tierney's cost
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Sundown by Barre Lyndon (New York, 1941).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
31 October 1941
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 16 Oct 1941
Production Date:
16 Jun--early Aug 1941
Copyright Claimant:
Walter Wanger Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
13 November 1941
Copyright Number:
LP10840
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
9
Length(in feet):
8,176
Country:
United States
PCA No:
7536
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At Manieka, an isolated outpost in British East Africa, civil commissioner William Crawford sends a telegram to the governor of Nairobi, requesting a furlough so that he may study the native customs of the Shenzi tribesman. Lieutenant Roddy Turner, concerned about rumors of impending trouble from the Shenzi, sends his own telegram urging the governor to deny Crawford's request. The governor responds by transferring control of the outpost to Major A. L. Coombes, who criticizes Crawford's lax security, particularly the fact that an Italian prisoner of war, Pallini, is permitted to cook for the officers. As Coombes is warning Crawford and Turner that the Shenzi have been arming themselves, they are joined by Dutch mineralogist Jan Kuypens, who had been acting for the Italian government and now offers his services to the British. Later, the native troops are ambushed by the Shenzi during a marching exercise, and Pallini warns Crawford and Coombes that Africa now has tremendous geopolitical significance, and that if Britain loses Africa, it will lose the war. Soon after, the exotically dressed Zia and her caravan approach the fort, and Pallini recognizes her as the operator of the largest trading network in Africa. That night, a birthday party for Pallini comes to an abrupt end when Zia and the natives suddenly leave, responding to a mysterious telepathic message that one of the white men will die. Crawford attributes this to Abdi Hammud, a suspected arms trader he had captured and released after the earlier ambush. The men keep careful watch, and when Hammud opens fire on the post with a machine gun, wounding Zia, who has returned to ... +


At Manieka, an isolated outpost in British East Africa, civil commissioner William Crawford sends a telegram to the governor of Nairobi, requesting a furlough so that he may study the native customs of the Shenzi tribesman. Lieutenant Roddy Turner, concerned about rumors of impending trouble from the Shenzi, sends his own telegram urging the governor to deny Crawford's request. The governor responds by transferring control of the outpost to Major A. L. Coombes, who criticizes Crawford's lax security, particularly the fact that an Italian prisoner of war, Pallini, is permitted to cook for the officers. As Coombes is warning Crawford and Turner that the Shenzi have been arming themselves, they are joined by Dutch mineralogist Jan Kuypens, who had been acting for the Italian government and now offers his services to the British. Later, the native troops are ambushed by the Shenzi during a marching exercise, and Pallini warns Crawford and Coombes that Africa now has tremendous geopolitical significance, and that if Britain loses Africa, it will lose the war. Soon after, the exotically dressed Zia and her caravan approach the fort, and Pallini recognizes her as the operator of the largest trading network in Africa. That night, a birthday party for Pallini comes to an abrupt end when Zia and the natives suddenly leave, responding to a mysterious telepathic message that one of the white men will die. Crawford attributes this to Abdi Hammud, a suspected arms trader he had captured and released after the earlier ambush. The men keep careful watch, and when Hammud opens fire on the post with a machine gun, wounding Zia, who has returned to warn Crawford, they return fire and kill him. The next day, after Coombes has ordered her to leave the post, Zia tells Kuypens that she knows Hammud was distributing guns for him and offers to take over Hammud's smuggling route. As her caravan prepares to depart, Zia tells Pallini to warn Crawford about Kuypens, but Kuypens kills him before he can deliver his message. Crawford and Coombes, now in receipt of an official telegram identifying Kuypens as an arms dealer, set out in pursuit, stopping only to blow up a cache of guns at a native encampment. The next day, Crawford is captured and imprisoned in the fortress that serves as Kuypens' base of operations. As Kuypens communicates by radio with the Nazis, Zia warns Crawford that a series of native uprisings will begin the next day, and helps him escape from his cell. Kuypens catches Zia and tells her to order her caravan to release their arms to the Shenzi. She refuses, however, and fierce fighting breaks out among Kuypens' men and Zia's. Coombes, who had disguised himself as a member of the caravan, exchanges gunfire with Kuypens, and both men are killed. Later, at a bomb-ravaged church in London, newlyweds Crawford and Zia listen as the bishop, Coombes's father, repeats his son's final words, an inspirational message about the victory that will be England's. +

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.