This film is held by the BFI (ID: 34787).


In 1897 Africa, a famous guide agrees to help a woman and her brother search for her husband in unknown territory they find the skeleton in the mines, and are rescued from a wild native.



This adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s  King Solomon’s Mines (1885), about the adventures of hunter Allan Quatermain in Africa, is the third and most spectacular of the films to take up this immensely popular work. Unlike the original novel or the first two adaptations--a 1918 South African production and a 1937 British version, this big-budget Technicolor film gives its hero a female love interest. This romance, given nearly as much prominence by the film as its ethnographic and wildlife spectacles, revolves around Deborah Kerr’s Mrs. Curtis, whose husband’s skeleton conveniently turns up in a cave near the end of the filmic quest. While the film is one of the most extravagant – and expensive – ever made about Africa, it downplays significantly the imperialist ideology that ran through both the novel and the 1937 version of the film. It ultimately shows a more ambivalent view of colonialist values than most twentieth-century films about Africa before or after.

This was the first Hollywood film to eschew a studio music soundtrack, using only African music (Variety, 1952). Its African tribesmen were filmed on location and no black-face actors or American stand-ins were used to represent ‘natives’. It differentiated tribes and showed its hero respectfully speaking their languages. Finally, most remarkably, unlike the 1937 film, no one gets any treasure except possibly King Umbopa who gets his kingdom back – and whose African actor, Siriaque Sekaryongo, appears in the opening credits along with two other major African players, an extraordinary move for this era. Film historian Kenneth M. Cameron, who has suggested the film ‘may well be the best Hollywood sound picture ever made about Africa’ speculates that the film makes the only treasure sought by its main characters that of ‘permission to love each other’ (28-29). I argue in the Analysis below that the film may nonetheless tender other treasures, not least for its female protagonist.

King Solomon’s Mines was one of the most expensive Hollywood films made in the immediate post-war era. With 95% of its footage (Bull, 272) filmed on location in Kenya, Uganda, Ruanda-Urundi, the Belgian Congo (today the Democratic Republic of Congo), and Tanganyika (today Tanzania), the film cost $3.5 million and required a monumental production team who enlisted 8000 Africans from twelve different tribes and 6000 animals, many of which needed to be organised by trainers to stampede (Reid, 169). One historian has called it the ‘largest safari since Theodore Roosevelt’s’ (in 1909), including 53 Europeans and 130 Africans travelling by plane, steamboat, car, and foot (Bull, 272). The Africans were reportedly paid the ludicrously low wage of thirty cents a day. Bull claims these rates were fixed by colonial governments who did not wish to ‘disrupt the local economy’. By comparison, £200 a month went to the white safari leaders lent by the Kenyan company managing the expedition (Bull, 274).

The treatment of the animals got good press from critics who saw as the film’s most compelling feature its devotion of half of its running time to the natural environment of Africa. Still photography had provided a way to make the wilderness ‘safely motionless’, in the words of Paul Landau (133) who compares adventurers’ employment of photography in the late nineteenth century with their use of guns. However, film’s very movement gave the illusion of reality while hiding the evidence that this wildlife had already been corrupted by the staging of spectacle. One of the wildlife cinematographers involved with the film, Armand Denis, later claimed to have left the film because of the unethical treatment of animals, though his own cinema suggests he was not immune to the exploitation – baiting animals to attack and slaughtering wildlife for the sake of a good picture (Cameron, 54), excesses that had dogged the ‘safari genre’ since its earliest days. While the film goes to some lengths to remind us that its protagonists respect the animals enough not to kill just for sport, its production team was perfectly prepared to disrupt the eco-system of thousands of creatures with a parade of American cinematic invaders.

Amy Staples has argued that safari filmmaking is about ‘modes of self-fashioning of the traveling filmmaker in ways that promoted western moral and technological superiority over African peoples’ (395). Although she is talking here about a documentary tradition that began in the decade before World War I and rose to prominence in the 1920s and 1930s, this feature fiction safari film of 1950 does not do a great deal more to historicise Africa than the exploitative adventure films of the Johnsons and many of their peers. But it nonetheless offers ethnographic sequences that explicitly differentiate tribes on the basis of their locations and experiences. If its popularity spawned the series of ‘big’ Africa films of the 1950s and 1960s – Mogambo (1953), The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1953), White Witch Doctor (1953), Odongo (1955), Watusi (1959), Drums of Africa (1963) –  this film also seems to have paved the way for questions about the conservation of the continent’s natural and human resources. And it shows a remarkable anxiety about the exploitation of black men for the benefit of white men – even as it rounded up thousands of tribal Africans to flash across cinema screens.

The 1950 film combined the ‘safari’ (a Swahili word meaning ‘journey’) adventure with a mythical quest based on the Old Testament (1 Kings) account of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon. The discovery in 1868-71 of the ruins of Great Zimbabwe gave rise to a new interest in the mythical source of Solomon’s wealth, imagined lurking beneath the shifting sands of central Africa. Showman William Leonard Hunt, called Farini, claimed in a travelogue published in 1886 to have seen the Lost City in the Kalahari desert the previous year – almost exactly when Haggard’s novel fantasised his own characters following an erotically charged map resembling a woman’s body (Farini, Peacock, McClintock, 1-4). Interest in the myth was further fueled by the discovery of diamonds in South Africa in 1867, and by the staying power of a novel so popular as to sell 31,000 copies in its first six months (Low, 6).

A. J. Clements has claimed there were 27 fully equipped expeditions between 1932 and 1965 including one by South African anti-apartheid activist, Alan Paton in 1956 (Wittenberg, 2004, 191-207; Wittenberg, 2005). In its original novel form, as McClintock and Hall emphasise, this myth turned on a far-fetched fantasy that Africa once harboured a lost tribe of white men – a racist explanation for the cultural richness of the continent and the Egyptian cradle of civilisation. In the novel, the colonial Europeans would reclaim a portion of these riches from the hybrid Phoenician tribe they discover, although Quatermain describes himself as ambivalent about what he picks up in the mines (See Hall). The 1950 film maintains a residue of the myth by associating its lost African tribe’s unique height and language with representations of ancient Egyptians. It departs from the most ideologically compromising aspects of its prototype by leaving these men distinctly black.

The film follows its opening credit sequence with a title card that announces, “Africa - 1897,” as though what we are about to see, right here, is the whole of that continent or at least something representative of it. The choice of date departs substantially from that of the novel which  Haggard experts place as 1880. Pushing the film’s time frame forward situates its events, interestingly, well beyond the Berlin West Africa Conference of 1884-85 that partitioned Africa, bringing an end to the exploration era associated with individuals resembling Haggard’s Quatermain (See Hibbert and Pakenham). As Hibbert notes, the years between the 1880s and the end of the century not only brought the ‘scramble for Africa’ but ended the independence of almost every region of the continent (316-17). To set the film in 1897 thus situates its adventures in an epoch where such possibilities seem nearly foreclosed; this choice additionally pushes the  characters into the contexts of three other frameworks of modernity.

First, it situates them closer to the moment of the consolidation of Britain’s stronghold on nearly half the territory of the continent. Secondly, as I discuss below, the film stages its quest in the eye of the storm just before the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). Thirdly, by jumping the film’s setting forward in time, the writers render more believable its female character’s foray onto terrain that had been, up until the 1880s, almost exclusively that of male explorers. Prior to the century’s last decade, most of the female travellers to Africa  accompanied husbands who had missionary, military, or administrative functions. By the 1890s, women aspired to admission to the Royal Geographic Society and, in 1892, fifteen were even admitted – before the membership was closed again for another twenty years (Blunt, 151). May French-Sheldon distinguished herself in 1891 as the first American woman to travel ‘alone’  –  without husband or a white male chaperone (Boisseau, 24). Mary Kingsley (1862-1900) dazzled the British public of the 1890s with books and lectures about her African trips of 1893-94 and 1894-95 (see Blunt). Setting the novel in 1897 therefore offers a realistic time frame for the African adventures of a Victorian woman. It likewise evokes political touchstones in women’s campaign for rights that make plausible Elizabeth Curtis’s transformation into a bobbed and resilient New Woman for whom Africa provided opportunities for independence and sensuality.

Haggard’s novels invented Africa for generations of young British men. Lindy Stiebel has argued that the Quatermain novels even transformed Africa in their turn, just as Paris was refashioned by Balzac and London was remade by Dickens (Stiebel, 53-54, citing Miller, 16; cf. Bull, 263-64). Novelist and critic Graham Greene claimed that “Haggard gave us a sense of history” (310, cited in Katz, 4), but it is hard to know what history that is besides a fantasy that helped the architects of the Boer War justify leading 22,000 British men to their deaths. As Haggard’s critics have often argued, the novelist more insistently gave young British men a sense of place and a desire to go to Africa, to seek their fortune there, to become part of the imperial adventure. An early Haggard biographer claimed that these novels of African adventure inspired British settlers “to accomplish the dreams and aims of [Cecil] Rhodes” (Horace G. Hutchinson [1926], cited Katz, 4)

The 1950 film’s chosen date evokes a particularly important moment in the consolidation of just those dreams since the new British High Commissioner who arrived in Cape Town in May 1897, Sir Alfred Milner, was obsessed with helping Britain’s Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain to strengthen southern Africa’s position in ‘the Imperial Chain’ for which it was ‘a test case’ (Meredith, 365-77). Milner, who called himself a ‘British Race Patriot’, militarised the Cape Colony in tune with the nationalism embraced by Rhodes who goaded British military force into supporting private business interests that had expanded far beyond the diamond and gold mines he established in the 1870s (see Meredith 365ff, Nasson, 33). Significantly, none of this militarism is explicitly visible in the film’s sequences representing the Capetown colony. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to imagine there are other inhabitants of southern Africa besides the British and black Africans. What the film explores, however, is the core myth of British imperialism: the African continent as a territory to exploit for the benefit of white Britons.

What made the imperialist adventures of British aristocrats in southern Africa so compelling that a film tracking them would become the year’s second biggest box office in the USA, earning $5.6 million in its first run (Reid, 34, 170)? While one might have expected that the familiarity of the  British audience with the novel would be a draw, the film only reached number 7 for its year in the UK and 9 in Australia. Perhaps the fact that the 1937 Gaumont-British version had never really taken off in the USA  improved the chances of this production. Or maybe it was the fact that the Second World War impelled Americans to see their foreign interests in the context of British imperial fantasies.  Contemporary press in 1950-51 suggests that the US audience was hungry for the spectacle of Africa that the film marketed to them as a ‘thrill show’ but delivered as ‘authentic’ (Variety). About the time of the Academy Awards when King Solomon’s Mines won Best Editing and Best Color Cinematography and competed with Sunset Boulevard and All About Eve (which won) for Best Picture, the Salt Lake Tribune remarked, ‘Everybody’s making pictures about Africa because there never was an African movie that didn’t make money’. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, films that showed parts of the world that had not been involved in the war would seem to have had significant box office currency in the United States. Of interest as well were films that evoked eras of ‘simplicity’ before the international conflicts of the twentieth century. Telling the story of a mission to find a ‘Lost City’ in Africa was sufficiently escapist that on one level it managed to operate outside any known world or time even as, on another, its lush travelogue sequences created a new standard for ‘safari’ films and even provided stock footage for decades to come (Cameron, 30-31).



‘Into this strange and wild interior of darkest Africa, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer sent a motion picture on safari . . . where no white woman had ever been before’, proclaimed the trailer. Title cards, punctuated with exclamation points, flash by over spectacular images of natural wilderness, wildlife, and indigenous people in native costume, offering the viewer a list of the attractions to expect in the film’s 103-minute playing time: ‘Sacred dance of the Giant Watussi! Mad Charge of the Rogue Elephants! Flight across the Burning Sands! Mystery of the Deserted Village! Grotesque caverns of the King’s Mines! Battle canoes of the Fighting Masai! Actual death fight of the Pagan Kings! The Spectacular Animal Stampede!’. One notes the interchangeability of animal and human (indigenous African) threats in this list, which sounds like the temptations evoked by a carnival barker outside a circus tent. It is hard to imagine a genre of the 1950s that is more embedded in the ‘cinema of attractions’ than the feature fiction safari film, or a feature fiction safari film that is more committed to its spectacular attractions than this one. Pointing to the trailer’s promises, Mary Beth Haralovich argues that the film is ‘an aggregation of ethnographic observation, nature documentary, travelogue, and ‘adventure’ ’ (39). But what made this film rise above the trailer’s clichés was the romance that becomes the newly invented glue for Africa and its future. Deborah Kerr’s Elizabeth Curtis was as much part of the spectacle as the Watussi and the Masai, and her close-ups delivered a sensuality to the fantasy of Africa that were new both to the adventure genre and to the post-war Hollywood cinema.

The 1950 film trailer bills its ‘perilous adventures’ as those of Stewart Granger’s ‘Great White Hunter’ and Kerr’s ‘Lady with Fire Hair’. It’s worth reflecting on how much this language already poses a conundrum for the film, insisting in advance on racial preoccupations and foregrounding the dangers to the white man and the red-haired (therefore white Anglo-Saxon) but also red-hot woman. 1950 opened two decades of colonial confrontations in which white men and fire-haired women would lose their hold on the settlements and missions that their state and church had assured them were their rightful places. Meanwhile, in the United States, this film racked up record box office earnings in its initial release years, 1950-51, and again throughout the 1960s in re-releases, bookending an era in which segregated post-war America confronted the horrors of the racial paradigms that led to the Holocaust and brought an end to their own egregious policies of segregation. If at the film’s premiere in November 1950, Jim Crow discrimination was as rampant as Red-baiting anti-Communism, by the time the film had become a regular feature at summer drive-ins, the colour line was crumbling and critiques of American as well as European imperialism had grown well beyond the spheres of East Coast intellectuals. This film achieves little in terms of a critique of the racial politics of western imperialism, but it ultimately foregrounds these issues in ways that must have put the territory of Africa and its natural riches in the mind’s eye of hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Although the trailer seems to observe every excess for stereotyping and cliché, it quickly suggests these frameworks are articulated in order to be questioned. Gender boundaries and racial lines seem fixed in advance only to be broken by the trailer’s images of a gun-toting Kerr and the teamwork of Granger and the Africans who travel at his side. Haggard’s novel is already ambivalent about what it will mean to be the ‘White Hunter’ (a term first coined in 1908, well after the first Quatermain novels, by a safari brochure [Cameron, 23]) as it is a designation that explicitly evokes the race of the person marketed to guide British and American safari hunters in the field. In the early twentieth century, film travelogues and government propaganda tempted adventure tourists to a continent that was increasingly billed as placed on earth to provide for their desires and wealth. But the Haggard novels were already more complex than this message and the 1950 film repositions that complexity in a post-war context.

While Haggard’s 1885 novel and his 13 other Quatermain novels (which covered the period between 1840 and 1885 in the lifespan of a man imagined as born in the 1810s or 1820s) created the fantasy of an Africa explored, mapped, and colonised, they also explicitly evoked an Africa that was, by the 1880s, racked by greed and exploitation. The Boer and British colonials’ craven disregard both for nature and for the African people constitutes a major topos of critique for the 1885 novel. A fictional work can step out of the lines of propaganda for its era. In this case, the novel was well-poised to indict the government whose citizens became its fervent readers because it put criticism in the mouth of a first-person narrator represented as reacting to circumstances. Whereas the 1937 film version largely sidestepped these issues, the 1950 production multiplies unethical white adventure-seekers and greedy cowards. It even requires its swaggering hero to learn a few lessons about nobility from the Africans whose languages and ways he is shown to understand and respect.

That the loving couple concludes the 1950 film still in deepest Africa suggests something of how much the continent first fabricated by the Haggard novels can now be refashioned for new post-war purposes. ‘Africa’ seems to offer an imaginary space for a newly liberated woman and a free-spirit man operating outside the constraints of class and gender of their home country. Nonetheless, the likely timeframe for their return to settler life in the colony seems ominous at best for their love and limbs. If this journey to the Lost World of Kukuanaland has taken months, by the time they have returned to Natal it will be the eve of the Anglo-Boer war. It is hard to know what the writer of this film, Helen Deutsch, the author of a dozen successful Hollywood features from 1940’s National Velvet to 1967’s Valley of the Dolls, might have known about the era that followed 1897. Whatever southern African world Quatermain and Elizabeth should inherit after that war would have blood on its hands that the century ahead would only increase. Nonetheless, it is a small irony of this world in which women travellers mostly recited their experiences to lecture halls to fund further travel that, in 1901, an Englishwoman travelling alone on behalf of a relief fund documented the devastating conditions created by the British military. Tens of thousands of southern Africa’s indigenous blacks as well as Boer women and children had been herded into concentration camps where sanitary conditions and starvation saw 28,000 Boers and more than 16,000 blacks perish (Martin, 455-57; Nasson, 281-83). These are the stories the film does not tell, suspending the future of the characters at the threshold of a trip back through treacherous deserts and jungles. But it does, implicitly, suggest them: ‘We were expecting a civil war, weren’t we?’, John Good asks his companions with reference to Umbopa’s quest. Everywhere you look in the natural world of Africa, says Quatermain, there is war ‘if you look for it’.

The very marketing of the film revolved around what critic Bosley Crowther in The New York Times called ‘one of the most terrific wildlife shows you’ve ever seen’. This spectacular attraction depended, however, on the audience’s perception of its female hero as triumphing over its dangers. The week the film premiered in the USA., Life magazine featured an article entitled ‘The Perils of Deborah: Kerr’s British grit overcomes horrors of savage Africa’. Featuring as its lead photo an image of ‘a maddened zebra’ leaping over Kerr and her safari partners, the article depicts the trials of the five-month shoot as overwhelming: temperatures of 152°F, swarming mosquitoes and tsetse flies, prowling lions, wayward spears, diseases that waylaid the rest of the crew. While Kerr managed to demonstrate remarkable courage and stamina, the article reports, ‘the cameramen were photographing magnificent scenery, colorful natives, and some of the most exciting animal pictures ever filmed’ (149). ‘Come see the white woman survive every threat Africa can throw at her!’, the article seems to tempt audiences, ‘when the animals aren’t endangering her, you’ll find them exciting’. Perhaps audiences were even being invited to see these threats as more exciting when theyareendangering her. It’s as if the film almost doesn’t need Granger, whom the magazine spread nevertheless features in two photographs, both of which explicitly refer to him in captions as only ‘the white hunter’. Granger is not the centre of erotic interest here except as a type with whom one nuzzles in a tree while waiting for the cannibals below to move on (153).

What does this film want with – and for – this white woman in Africa? It knows this little band of white travellers do not belong here and it repeatedly reminds its viewers of their status as interlopers just as Quatermain gives lessons in not disturbing the eco-system or disrupting the locals. Kerr is the one who is given the words about how the untouched portion of the continent has ‘majesty’ and ‘a feeling of forever’ whereas Quatermain delivers lines about the senselessness of life inside or outside the jungle. The film lets her chide Quatermain for being suspicious of Umbopa’s failure in subservience. One could argue that the film casts Elizabeth Curtis in the role of future conservationist – one who seeks to bring home neither the trophies of what Donna Haraway has called ‘teddy-bear patriarchy’ nor the wealth the continent holds (unlike Sharon Stone in the 1985 film, she will not try to slip away with some of the loot). Though she is decked out in sparkling gems in an early sequence, she shows no interest in the gems once they are found in the cave. This woman has her own wealth, the film tells us, from the start. What she doesn’t have is freedom, love – or comfortable clothes. If the film invites its female viewers to Africa, it does not seem to do so to ensure the racial superiority that Haggard’s novel promised white readers (see McClintock, 248). In fact, Elizabeth’s trust of Umbopa means that her expedition will earn his goodwill and that he will provide the group with the supplies necessary to return. The treasure they bring back from the mythical dark lands is their lives and a vision of an Africa that is not the one they imagined at their departure.

And yet the film situates Elizabeth Curtis’s quest in a world where other women are almost shockingly absent. In the Watussi sequences of the last quarter of the film, for example, only men are visible. While the Masai and the Kaluanna women and children were in evidence, if given little ethnographic or narrative attention, the Watussi might as well not have wives or girlfriends. This is all the more peculiar since the original novel gives Good a beloved from this tribe, there called the Kukuana. While she conveniently perishes before the danger of miscegenation becomes a threat, even in the novel’s conclusion Good claims he ‘hasn’t seen a woman to touch her’ (Haggard, 232). In the 1950 film version, Africa’s women are cast into a shadowland by the struggles of the white imperial visitor to liberate herself and find meaning.

Both as a safari film and a melodrama, the 1950 King Solomon’s Mines imagines treasures for its characters to capture, but the greatest of those seems to be the one it has brought home in cameras from location shooting. The film continually makes fun of the microsociety (to echo Haraway) that trudges through natural wonderlands carrying far more goods than any expedition could use in a lifetime. And yet we know from the press that multiplied about the film’s shoot that its own expedition was just as extravagant and its own poorly paid servant bearers were just as loaded down with equipment and Western luxuries. The film does little to question the hierarchies of race that mark this world as it constitutes itself in the wilderness – and it justifies its egregious acceptance of these values as part of an historically outdated world that likewise corseted women and married them to men they didn’t love. But unlike the novel, in which its hero suggests he prefers Africans to the British, this film only lets its Quatermain say of the natives, ‘They’re not stupid, you know’. Racial boundaries in view here are much less fluid than the gender boundaries. And yet this film has gone a long way from Osa Johnson in Congorilla (1932) teaching the pygmies the Charleston as her husband’s camera mockingly watches, or from the racist fantasies of the imagined captive white woman in Trader Horn (1931), the first Hollywood feature film to use substantial location shooting (On Johnson, see Browder, 95-99; Haraway, 263-64; Musser, 414-15, Cameron, 46-53; on Trader Horn, see Berenstein, 171-75). It is the Africans who first realise, after all, that romance is in the air between the woman they call the ‘lady with the flaming hair’ and the hunter they call ‘lucky’.

The mixed messages surrounding the marketing of King Solomon’s Mines were as complex as those in the film itself, suggesting the raw nerves the film struck in the unconscious of the United States of 1950. On his return from Africa, Richard Carlson shared patronizing views about the ‘smart. . . native boys’ who imitated the English of the crew ‘even though they seldom knew what they were actually saying’ (Barron). Life magazine featured an article about one of the male African leads enjoying ice cream and playing baseball in Hollywood to which he was transported for a bonus of eight head of cattle. This individual, Kimursi, treated respectfully by the film’s camera and characters, is nonetheless described here in the racist trope twentieth-century middle America: the ‘uppity black man’. The article claims that upon return to Africa this man had let his fame ‘go to his head’ for he had not returned to his job as a constable (‘Kipsigi in Hollywood’, 154). The new imperial society in the making was a McCarthy-era America that could be reassured by an image of Kimursi in tribal costume wielding as his only weapon a baseball bat. But it also profited from showing him busied with his eight cows, too arrogant to continue serving his society as a policeman.

And yet, Pauline Kael wrote in 1950 that ‘the Africans take all the acting honors’ (397). Crowther too praised countless unnamed African natives’. Robert Rydell has argued that Africans displayed as spectacles at America’s international exhibitions ‘often rewrote scripts and turned showcases of empire into theaters of resistance’ (136). It is worth speculating whether this happened in King Solomon’s Mines as well. If this film reinvented Africa for a generation of Americans, then it necessarily foregrounded the struggle of noble black men striving to regain control over what was rightfully theirs. It is hard not to wonder if these audiences flashed forward to the southern Africa that had taken shape in the intervening years since this film’s distant setting? In 1936, African voters were struck from the roll in the Cape Province, losing a right they had possessed for nearly a century. In 1948, a year before the film shoot, a policy of apartheid was formally implemented by the newly elected Afrikaner National Party (Meredith, 524-25). However little audiences learned about the ‘real’ Africa from this film’s colonial fantasies, they had nonetheless been invited to imagine there were mysteries beyond these two hours of ‘thrills’ that only serious ethnographic study and respectful tourism could teach them. And they had also been asked to speculate whether the inequalities of gender telescoped by the film could be reversed in just fifty years, and whether the inequities of race could be similarly erased.

What Africa did Americans in 1950 want to see at the end of King Solomon’s Mines? What future Africa did this film advocate or what future for that of its American and its worldwide audiences?

Safari historian Bartle Bull nostalgically mourned in 1988 the Africa that existed before the ‘big pictures’ filled in the African map with adventures ‘to be experienced without risk or effort’. In the decades before World War I, the British and American press had exploited ‘the controversy and the tragedy’ far more than any scientific interest in exploratory expeditions to Africa (Riffenburgh, 198-99). The 1950 King Solomon’s Mines sold ‘Africa’ to the cinema-going public of at least three continents at a crucial moment when European exploitation itself had become the controversy and tragedy. The adventure to come, the film suggested, required leaving the wealth where one found it.

Jann Matlock 


Works Cited

Barron, Mark. “Along Broadway” (AP), Evening Times (Cumberland, Md.), 6 April 1950.

Berenstein, Rhona. Attack of the Leading Ladies: Gender, Sexuality, and Spectatorship in Classic Horror Cinema. NY: Columbia UP, 1996.

Blunt, Alison. Travel, Gender, and Imperialism: Mary Kingsley and West Africa. NY: Guilford Press, 1994.

Boisseau, Tracey Jean. “Introduction,” to May French-Sheldon, From Sultan to Sultan. 1892; rpt. Manchester UP,  2000.

Browder, Laura.  Her Best Shot: Women and Guns in America. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006.

Bull, Bartle. Safari. New York: Viking, 1988.

Cameron, Kenneth M. Africa on Film: Beyond Black and White. New York: Continuum, 1994.

Clement, A. J. The Kalahari and Its Lost City. Cape Town: Longmans, 1967.

Crowther, Bosley, “The Screen: Five New Films Arrive at Local Theaters,” New York Times, 10 November 1950.

Farini, G. A.Through the Kalahari Desert, London: Sampson, 1886.

Haggard, H. Rider. King Solomon’s Mines. 1885; rpt. London: Penguin, 2007.

Hall, Martin. “The Legend of the Lost City, or the Man with the Golden Balls,” Journal of South African Studies, 21: 2 (June 1995), 179-99.

Haraway, Donna. “Teddy Bear Patriarchy,” in Amy Kaplan and Donald Pease, ed. Cultures of United States Imperialism. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1993.

Haralovich, Mary Beth.“1950: Movies and Landscapes,” in Murray Pomerance, ed. American Cinema of the 1950s. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers UP, 2005.

Hibbert, Christopher. Africa Explored: Europeans in the Dark Continent, 1769-1889. London: Allen Lane, 1992.

Kael, Pauline, 5001 Nights at the Movies. NY: H. Holt, 1991.

Katz, Wendy. Rider Haggard and the Fiction of Empire. Cambridge: UP, 1987.

Landau, Paul. “With Camera and Gun in Southern Africa: Inventing the Image of Bushmen, c. 1880 to 1935,” in Miscast, ed. Pippa Skotnes, Exhib. Cat. South African National Gallery 1996, 129-41.

--, “Kipsigi in Hollywood,” Life, 13 November 1950.

--, “The Perils of Deborah: Kerr’s British grit overcomes horrors of savage Africa.” Life, 13 November 1950, 149-54.

Low, Gail Ching-Liang. White Skins/Black Masks: Representation and Colonialism. London: Routledge 1996.

McClintock, Anne. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. New York: Routledge, 1995.

Meredith, Martin. Diamonds, Gold, and War: The Making of South Africa. London: Simon & Schuster, 2007.

Miller, J. Hillis. Topographies. Stanford: UP, 1995.

Mosby, Aline. “Africa’s Tame,” Salt Lake Tribune, 9 February 1951.

Musser, Charles. “Presenting a ‘True Idea of the African of To-day’: Two Documentary Forays by Paul and Eslanda Robeson,” Film History, 18: 4 (2006), 412-39.

Nasson, Bill. The South African War, 1899-1902. London: Arnold, 1999.

Pakenham, Thomas, The Scramble for Africa, 1876-1912. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1991.

Peacock, Shane. “Africa Meets the Great Farini,” in Bernth Lindfors, ed. Africans on Stage. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1999, 81-106.

Reid, John Howard. Success in the Cinema: Money-Making Movies and Critics’ Choices. Np:, 2006.

Review, “King Solomon’s Mines,” Variety, 31 December 1949; rpt. Derek Elery, ed. Variety Movie Guide 2000. NY: Perigree, 2000.

Review, “Mogambo,” Variety, 31 December 1952; rpt. Derek Elery, ed. Variety Movie Guide 2000. NY: Perigree, 2000.

Riffenburgh, Beau. The Myth of the Explorer: Press, Sensationalism, and Geographical Discovery. London: Belhaven Press, 1993.

Rydell, Robert W. “‘Darkest Africa’: African Shows at America’s World’s Fairs, 1893-1940,” in Bernth Lindfors, ed. Africans on Stage. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1999, 135-55.

Staples, Amy J. “Safari Adventures: Cinematic Journeys in Africa,” Film History, 18: 4 (2006) 392-411.

Stiebel, Lindy. Imagining Africa: Landscape in H. Rider Haggard’s African Romances. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001.

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Wittenberg, Hermann. “Introduction” to Alan Paton, Lost City of the Kalahari. Scottsville: Univ. of KwaZulu-Natal Press




Technical Data

Running Time:
102 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
35mm Film
Colour (Technicolor)
9176 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries: