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Friday, September 4, 2009


No doubt, the relentlessly grim news out of Africa adds dramatic weight to Richard Brooks’ typically ham-fisted adaptation of Robert Ruark’s novel on Kenya & the Mau Mau uprising. But on its own terms, the film holds a fair amount of interest. Rock Hudson, with his California physique & accent, is surprisingly convincing as the scion of white Kenyan settlers. He and Sidney Poitier were raised like brothers, but now they are grown men and Poitier, rebelling at his reduced status in a colonial state, joins the Mau Mau terrorist revolutionaries. Brooks isn’t able to pull off the big emotional & action sequences, but he does nicely working the middle ground and in handling the domestic dramas. It doesn’t hurt to have Wendy Hiller in your cast, even if she’s playing Rock Hudson’s sister! With excellent tech work and a suitably African score overseen by the great Miklos Rozsa, this must have been a tough sell for producer Pandro Berman*, but the film outstrips many better known African films from the time.

*Note the the title change on the Re-release poster. Always a sign of commercial desperation.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Brooks made CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF the following year and watching this film it's hard not to imagine what a great role Brick would have made for Hudson . . . and (pace Paul Newman) how good he might have been.

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