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King Solomon's Mines (1950)

King Solomon's Mines DVD

bullet Full Cast and Crew for King Solomon's Mines (1950) bullet

bullet Directed by
Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton

bullet Writing credits
H. Rider Haggard (novel)
Helen Deutsch (screenplay)

bullet Cast (in credits order)
Deborah Kerr .... Elizabeth Curtis
Stewart Granger .... Allan Quatermain
Richard Carlson .... John Goode
Hugo Haas .... Van Brun aka Smith
Lowell Gilmore .... Eric Masters, District Commissioner
Kimursi .... Khiva, Chief Bearer in Red Fez (as Kimursi of the Kipsigi Tribe)
Siriaque .... Umbopa, Tall Prince-in-Exile
Sekaryongo .... Chief Gagool, Witch-like Guide to Diamond Mines
Baziga .... King Twala, Usurper (as Baziga of the Watussi Tribe)

bullet Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Munto Anampio .... Chief Bilu (uncredited)
John Banner .... Austin, Safari client (uncredited)
Benempinga .... Black Circle (uncredited)
Gutare .... Kafa, Umbopa's Old Uncle (uncredited)
Ivargwema .... Blue Star (uncredited)
Henry Rowland .... Traum, Safari client (German) (uncredited)

bullet Produced by
Sam Zimbalist .... producer

bullet Original Music by
Mischa Spoliansky (uncredited)

bullet Cinematography by
Robert Surtees (director of photography)

bullet Film Editing by
Conrad A. Nervig and Ralph E. Winters

bullet Art Direction by
Cedric Gibbons and Paul Groesse

bullet Set Decoration by
Edwin B. Willis

bullet Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Carl 'Major' Roup .... second assistant director (uncredited)

bullet Art Department
F. Keogh Gleason .... associate set decorator (as Keogh Gleason)

bullet Sound Department
Douglas Shearer .... recording supervisor

bullet Stunts
Michaela Denis .... stunt double: Deborah Kerr (uncredited)
Shep Houghton .... stunt double: Richard Carlson (uncredited)

bullet Other crew
James Gooch .... color consultant: Technicolor
Henri Jaffa .... color consultant: Technicolor
Walter Plunkett .... costumes
Bunny Allen .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Cliff Shirpser .... assistant camera: Technicolor (uncredited)

bullet Awards for King Solomon's Mines (1950) bullet

Academy Awards, USA

1951 Won Oscar Best Cinematography, Color
Robert Surtees

1951 Won Oscar Best Film Editing
Ralph E. Winters and Conrad A. Nervig

1951 Nominated Oscar Best Picture
Sam Zimbalist

Golden Globes, USA

1951 Won Golden Globe Best Cinematography - Color
Robert Surtees

bullet AMG Info for King Solomon's Mines (1950) bullet

USA (1950)- 102 min. - Feature, Color

Plot Synopsis
MGM's expensive remake of the 1937 British adventure film King Solomon's Mines stars Stewart Granger as fearless-explorer Alan Quartermaine, and Deborah Kerr as the spunky Irish lass who hires him on to locate her husband. Kerr's spouse has disappeared somewhere in Africa while attempting to unearth the long-lost diamond mines of King Solomon. Quartermaine wants no part of so risky an undertaking until Kerr waves 5000 pounds of sterling under his nose. Coming upon a Watusi tribe, the explorers discover that their taciturn native bearer (Siriaque) is actually a deposed Watusi king, who intends to wrest the throne back from his usurpers. Quartermaine uses his wits to quell the natives and keep his party from being killed on the spot. The group finally reaches King Solomon's Mines, where rests the bones of Kerr's late husband. The ending of this version of King Solomon's Mines doesn't pack the same ironic punch as the climax of the 1937 version, but this MGMization is more concerned with the blossoming romance between the leading man and leading lady than with full fidelity to the H. Rider Haggard novel on which it is based. King Solomon's Mines was filmed on location in Africa, which proved an excellent decision in the long run: for several years afterward, MGM adventure films like Watusi (1959) and Trader Horn (1973) were able to economically lift huge chunks of Technicolor stock footage from King Solomon's Mines. The property would be remade once more in 1985, this time as an Indiana Jones rip-off starring Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone.

King Solomon's Mines is as much an exotic locale romance as an adventure tale. Leads Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr are pleasant, though their chemistry is minimal. What works well are Robert Surtees's superb cinematography and the outstanding editing of Conrad Nervig and Ralph Winters. Filming in Africa, MGM got a double return on their investment: the footage created both a box-office hit and a library of stock footage. This was among the higher-budget films of the era, and producer Sam Zimbalist does a good job of translating his production values to the screen.

bullet Review for King Solomon's Mines (1950) bullet

Adventure yarns don't come more ripping than King Solomon's Mines, the classic Great White Hunter tale. Novelist H. Rider Haggard's hero, Allan Quatermain (Stewart Granger), reluctantly agrees to lead an Englishwoman (Deborah Kerr) and her brother (Richard Carlson) deep into uncharted territory in Africa, in search of the lady's lost husband. What follows is a cavalcade of boys' adventure stuff: charging rhinos, cannibals, an incredible wildlife stampede, and the back-of-the-neck-tingly thrill of venturing into unmapped lands. The location shooting, including tribal rituals, is marvelous throughout, and the movie manages to pack a great deal of material into 102 minutes without ever seeming rushed. A remake of a 1937 film, King Solomon's Mines was itself remade badly, with Richard Chamberlain, in 1985, and Quatermain was essayed by Sean Connery in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but purists will prefer Stewart Granger's stalwart-yet-sardonic hero--his career never quite got over the role.

bullet CineBooks' Motion Picture Guide Review for King Solomon's Mines (1950) bullet

US (1950): Adventure
102 min, No rating, Color
CineBooks' Motion Picture Guide Review: 4.0 stars out of 5

For those who love thrilling, big-scale adventure films loaded with action and exotic scenery, KING SOLOMON'S MINES is a must. MGM spent a fortune (for those days), $3,500,000, in producing this wonderful movie that has something for everyone.

A final expedition. A great white hunter Allan Quartermain (Stewart Granger) has had fifteen years of bloodthirsty clients abusing nature and he's sick of it, planning to give up the safari business and return to the peace and quiet of England. Entering his life is a beautiful woman Elizabeth Curtis (Deborah Kerr) and her brother John (Richard Carlson). Elizabeth tells Allan Quartermain that her husband has vanished while looking for King Solomon's treasures and asks Allan Quartermain to lead an expedition to search for him. Allan Quartermain refuses to get involved until Elizabeth offers him 5,000 pounds, a sum he can use for his planned retirement. He accepts the offer and the trio departs on safari with a contingent of natives.

A dangerous village. Allan Quartermain and Elizabeth don't much care for each other, but she soon learns to listen to the veteran guide as they encounter all manner of hazards on the arduous journey. When they come to a small village they meet a sleazy criminal Van Brun (Hugo Haas) on the run from the law. It soon becomes apparent to Allan Quartermain that Van Brun has no intention of letting them leave the village alive, fearing they will report his whereabouts to authorities. Allan Quartermain takes Van Brun hostage and they escape from the village, pursued by hostile villagers. They evade their pursuers, but Van Brun is killed in a struggle with Allan Quartermain.

A Watusi king. Now alone, their bearers having been killed or deserted them, the three adventurers press on. They encounter a tall, very dignified native who tells them he is making a journey in the same direction and offers to be their bearer. The four proceed to the beautiful rolling hills of the Watusi where it turns out that their silent bearer is the king of the Watusi who has returned to claim the throne taken from him by a usurper. The impostor king gives the whites a cool reception, then his medicine man makes a move toward the trio and Allan Quartermain shoots him. This cows the tribe and the pretender to the throne, who assigns several of his warriors to escort the whites to the legendary mines.

King Solomon's mines. Once the three are inside the huge cavern, however, the entrance is sealed by the warriors and they are trapped. Inside, they find the incredible wealth of King Solomon, huge chests and barrels packed with diamonds. They also find the skeletal remains of Elizabeth's missing husband. Then Allan Quartermain notices a downdraft, and the three find a narrow passage through the rocks which they follow to freedom.

A safe return. They make their way back to the village where they witness a confrontation between their friend, the real king, and the pretender. The two men duel with spears and shields while the tribe encircles them, waiting to proclaim the victor king. The real king manages to kill the pretender and take his rightful throne. He and his tribe are now friendly toward the visitors, and the king provides bearers and supplies so the whites can return to civilization. By this time the animosity between Elizabeth and Allan Quartermain has changed to deep affection and it is obvious they will marry.

Majestic adventure. Scriptwriter Helen Deutsch was accused by some critics of drastically scaling down the 1885 Sir Henry Rider Haggard novel upon which the film is based to allow more room for the love story, however she left action and adventure aplenty. In fact, KING SOLOMON'S MINES is one of the most majestically filmed adventure yarns ever put on celluloid, thanks largely to the superlative efforts of cinematographer Robert Surtees. The film also contains an impeccable performance by Kerr with fine support by Carlson.

A great white hunter. Granger is particularly excellent as the all-knowing white hunter invented by Sir Henry Rider Haggard , a gentleman explorer-hunter who spent many years in Africa. Haggard's King Solomon's Mines matched Africa's wonders and perils with his finest hero, Allan Quartermain, and Granger's performance as Quartermain put him into superstar status.

KING SOLOMON'S MINES was Granger's first star-billed appearance in an American film, however he almost didn't appear in the picture. Errol Flynn had been the first choice for the daring white hunter role but he became involved in another major production, KIM (1950), and so the part went to Granger. He was thirty-seven years old at the time, and the makeup people added white to his temples to give him deeper maturity as the great white hunter.

A genuine safari. Twenty years before the filming of KING SOLOMON'S MINES, MGM sent a cast and crew to trek through the wilds of Africa to make its then-spectacular TRADER HORN (1931), taking all of six weeks just to get to the Dark Continent. When the group arrived it underwent countless horrors and illnesses. As a result, the KING SOLOMON'S MINES crew went prepared, going first to Nairobi and then, by specially built trucks and airplanes, to Kenya, Tanganyika, and the Belgian Congo, covering more than 14,000 miles, all the while contending with temperatures soaring between 140 and 152 degrees. Decimating their ranks were all manner of exotic diseases—amoebic dysentery, malaria, fever. They were plagued by swarms of snakes and tsetse flies. The elements even worked hardships on the natives, hundreds of them working as extras for about 30 cents a day.

Besides the heat and disease, there were other dangers. At one point the chiefs of the Masai lifted the ban on the ancient dances so that the film company could see how they performed their old war rituals. More than 500 warriors chanted, writhed, jumped, and screamed for two days, accompanied by incessant drumming; finally, in mass hysteria, the warriors began to hurl their spears at the whites, until calmer leaders stopped dozens of them by sitting on their heads.

Seven spears were plucked out of the camera case and Kerr was found high in a tree where she had climbed when the spears began to fly. To entertain the natives, the company showed a film, PERFECT STRANGERS (VACATION FROM MARRIAGE), starring Kerr. Before the end of reel one, Kerr's own porter stood up and began to walk away. Pointing to the screen, he said to an interpreter: "Can't be. She's up there and she's here. Can't be!"

Despite this incident, Kerr turned out to be the most sturdy member of the crew. Cinematographer Surtees later remembered: "Sure it was tough. Most of us became ill—at one time we had only four members of the crew left behind the cameras, and 500 natives in front of it. All of us must have been homesick many times. But there was always Deborah, ready for whatever was next, without a complaint of any sort. A man just couldn't gripe."

Excess footage used. Director Compton Bennett was so utterly exhausted after the five-month shooting schedule that Andrew Marton finished off the film. Producer Sam Zimbalist later claimed that Marton directed half the film and was responsible for most of the miles of incredible footage captured by Surtees' cameras. In fact, there was so much excess footage of great quality that MGM kept using it up in many movies, including WATUSI (1959), TARZAN, THE APE MAN (1959), DRUMS OF AFRICA (1963), TRADER HORN (1973), and even the 1977 remake of this film called KING SOLOMON'S TREASURE which marked the third sound version of the story. The first was a British production released in 1937 starring Cedric Hardwicke.

bullet Pauline Kael Review for King Solomon's Mines (1950) bullet

US (1950): Adventure
102 min, No rating, Color

A smashing kitsch entertainment—H. Rider Haggard's 1886 pulp adventure novel about a search for legendary African diamond mines, given the full MGM Technicolor treatment, and with an additional romance between an English lady on safari (Deborah Kerr) and the valiant white guide (Stewart Granger) provided by the scenarist, Helen Deutsch. You have to be prepared to put part of your mind to sleep, so that you don't get too outraged by the colonialist underpinnings of this sort of fiction; the noblest character is the loyal black servant Umbopa (played by Siriaque, a Watusi), who turns out to be the Mashona chief. (In the 1937 British version, Paul Robeson was a magnificent smiling Umbopa.) But one can enjoy this picture for its superb showmanship (and the Watusi dances and the stunning native fabrics). The film was shot in the African highlands—at Murchison Falls and Mount Kenya—and the elephants and mandrills and leopards and cobras are all startlingly clear and close. It's one exciting incident after another, and there's even a suggestion of sex, when Kerr and Granger wake after a night of hiding high in a tree and look passionately at each other. (An incident early on, when an elephant tramples a native, may frighten small children, but children generally love the rest of the film.) Produced by Sam Zimbalist; directed by Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton; cinematography by Robert Surtees, who won the Academy Award for it. With Richard Carlson, Hugo Haas, and Lowell Gilmore. Also with Kimursi, of the Kipsigi tribe, and Sekaryongo and Baziga, of the Watusi tribe; the Africans take all the acting honors. (A cut-rate sequel, WATUSI, in 1959 had a script by James Clavell.)

bullet Leonard Maltin Review for King Solomon's Mines (1950) bullet

US (1950): Adventure
102 min, No rating, Color
Leonard Maltin Review: 3.5 stars out of 4

Remake of H. Rider Haggard story is given polished production, with Granger-Kerr-Carlson trio leading safari in search for legendary diamond mines. Scripted by Helen Deutsch. This won Oscars for Cinematography (Robert Surtees) and Editing; excess footage used in WATUSI and other later jungle films. Remade in 1985.

bullet Memorable Quotes from King Solomon's Mines (1950) bullet

Allan Quatermain: the end you begin to accept it all... you watch things hunting and being hunted, reproducing, killing and dying, it's all endless and pointless, except in the end one small pattern emerges from it all, the only certainty: one is born, one lives for a time then one dies, that is all...

bullet Goofs for King Solomon's Mines (1950) bullet

Continuity: When they are floating in the water, escaping the mountain, Elizabeth goes underwater. When she and her brother meet up with Quatermain at the end of the tunnel, her hair is dry and set.

bullet DVD Details bullet

King Solomon's Mines (1950)

Product Details

Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
Region: Region 1
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: January 11, 2005
Run Time: 103 minutes

DVD Features

Available Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Theatrical trailer

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