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Thursday, June 9, 2011


M-G-M hoped lightning would strike twice when they reteamed Stewart Granger & Andrew Marton, star & co-director of KING SOLOMON’S MINES/’50, for another exotic treasure hunt, now in CinemaScope & Stereophonic Sound! But emerald mines in South American proved less enticing than adventure-at-every-turn in Darkest Africa. And while this film carries an extra twenty minutes, it provides half the thrills, chills & spills. And not a Watusi in sight! Still, once it sorts out all the relationships and starts working the emerald mine (with Paul Douglas as a companionable partner) and the nearby coffee plantation (with Grace Kelly reaping beans in designer duds), some nicely structured plot reversals start to pay off. Cave-ins, worker revolts, the on-coming rainy season, interference from the church, an overly ambitious kid brother, a lawless bandito with a comically bad accent (Murvyn Vye): there’s plenty of incident. And while some of the swell location footage is compromised with studio recreations & ‘50s process work, there’s always that great Miklos Rozsa score which survives a corny title song before blossoming with South-of-the-Border rhythms.* Strict conservationists might want to skip the finale which blows up a mountain & redirects a river in pursuit of a happy ending. Not so happy for Mother Nature! All-in-all, a reasonably fun ride considering the pic’s rotten rep.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: The swinging samba Rozsa worked up for the coffee harvest must have caught the ear of Frederick Loewe who found a place for it in his score for THE LITTLE PRINCE/’74.

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