King Solomon's Mines Reviews
(1950) King Solomon's Mines
Most realistic portrayl of Allan Quatermain whose been turned into an mythical "Indiana Jones" type of figure in the 1980's starring Richard Chamberline ever since the success of "Raiders Of The Lost Ark". Anyways, actor Stewart Granger as Quartermain an Englishman whose lived in Africa most of his life, a hired guide through the jungles of Africa aiding Elizabeth Curtis played by the ravishing Deborah Kerr in search of her archeologist husband who was pronounced missing. The chemistry and the arising sexual tension between Kerr and Granger are the main highlights here, with interesting tidbits about African natives as well including it's culture is just as entertaining as "The Naked Prey" and "Trader Horn" to name a few.
WARNING: Don't expect this film to be another Indiana Jones type of film, first by considering the time it was made and second by it's synopsis.
3 out of 4
At the turn of the nineteenth century, wealthy Irish woman Beth Curtis (Deborak Kerr) hires rugged African hunter and guide Allan Quatermain (Stewart Granger) to help her go into unexplored regions to find her husband, who disappeared years ago while searching for King Solomon's Mines, a legendary diamond mine hidden deep in the African continent. Quatermain resists at first, thinking the young lady is looking more for proof that her husband is dead to collect her inheritance than for him, but she bribes him with enough money to care for Quatermain's young son, who currently lives in a boarding school in England. Quatermain takes the case and would normally be off on a wild adventure, except that Bennett and Marton direct this movie like a travelogue with a story thrown in rather than a rollicking adventure. So wasted is this potential that decades later, the next remake of this film is a B competitor to [u]Raiders of the Lost Ark[/u] (Steven Spielberg, 1981), as Quatermain is one of the inspiration for Lucas and Spielberg's own Indiana Jones. But this particular version is slow, plodding, and ultimately frustrating.
Again, the irony is that if you took the story outline for this movie, all of the pieces are there - there are animal attacks, fights with natives, buried treasure, uneasy romance, bickering between a male and female character, and exotic locales. Honestly, if a modern director took this script, and didn't even change the dialogue, it would probably still work. The difference, however, is that they would put in music cues and spice up the action, and that level is what makes this movie most interesting: one truly gets an appreciation for modern action filmmaking by comparing it to what could have been with this movie, were it made today (or admittedly, if Hitchock or Howard Hawks had directed it even back then). Instead, what you get is a lot of great visual depiction of Africa, some insight into native customs, a few bad to mediocre action scenes, and an ultimate feeling of boredom and dissatisfaction. I have a lot of appreciation for what the filmmakers were able to obtain with this film in terms of the cooperation of the tribes of Africa and great nature photography. But a fiction film is a fiction film, and as an audience pleaser, this one is not.