Article #731 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-16-2003
Posting Date: 8-13-2003
Directed by William Cowen
Featuring Walter Huston, Lupe Velez, Conrad Nagel
A sadistic ivory trader keeps a white girl a hostage in the jungle as part of a scheme of revenge.
Lon Chaney fans will recognize the story immediately; it’s a sound remake of WEST OF ZANZIBAR, with Walter Huston in the Lon Chaney role. Huston even seems to be channeling Chaney in terms of makeup; yet, for all that, I think Chaney was a bit more impressive in the role. The movies are roughly the same length, though this version dispenses with the backstory present in the silent version. I find this one a little harder to follow at times, and the acting occasionally goes over the top, but the sleazy, muddy atmosphere of the movie is on par with that of the silent version, and in the long run, there’s not a real strong difference between the two versions, and they’re both about the same level of quality. Which one you prefer may well depend on who you prefer in your cast and whether you prefer silent movies to talkies. At any rate, the movie’s degenerate sadism make it something that certainly wouldn’t have been made after the Hays office went into effect.