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Thursday, May 22, 2008

KING SOLOMON’S MINES (1950)

Although it sounds like the sort of politically incorrect White Man’s Adventure in Africa that would make you cringe in embarrassment, the old H. Rider Haggard potboiler comes across quite well in this stiff, plush and excessively groomed M-G-M treatment. Real African locales were still a treat when it came out and the sense of discovery can still be dimly felt o’er the years as an unusually good cast (Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger, Richard Carlson & some extremely memorable ‘Natives’) all sweat hard and honorably. The current release needs a freshening (the color timing on the tricky old stock is pretty hit-and-miss), but the trek into unknown territory is still worth taking as there’s a legit thrill around each corner from man or beast. Note: There’s some real game shooting in this one, so be forewarned. As for the racial attitudes, they're reasonably enlightened for a film about 'the Dark Continent,' but filled with the sort of gentle/genteel patronizing that may well be more damaging than the usual insulting stereotypes.

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