King Solomon’s Mines (1937)

Article #1366 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-10-2004
Posting Date: 5-9-2005
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Featuring Paul Robeson, Cedric Hardwicke, Roland Young

When a determined Irish girl shanghais his wagon in order to find her father, Allan Quatermain decides to follow her and help her in her quest.

Fantastic content: The whole story is driven by the search and discovery of the legendary mines of King Solomon, putting the movie somewhat into the realm of fantasy.

Despite the fact that “She” seems to be the more popular choice over the years for cinematic adaptations of H. Rider Haggard’s adventure novels, I would opt for this adaptation of one of his other works over any of the ones I’ve seen of “She”. Part of the reason is the efficient, well-paced production and a witty and fun script, but the real selling point of this one is its excellent cast. John Loder and Anna Lee play the likable romantic leads, and Cedric Hardwicke does a fine job as the noble but somewhat reluctant Allan Quatermain who gets drawn into the adventure despite his better judgment. However, the other two leads are the true stars of this production. Roland Young has never been funnier; every time he opened his mouth, I found myself giggling at his comment. Twice he gets caught without his pants during the movie, eventually prompting my favorite line in the movie, “Would it do any good if I whipped off my pants?” And then there’s Paul Robeson as Umbopa, who deports himself with an impressive dignity (he was one of the few black actors of the era not consigned to secondary/comic relief roles), and when he sings (which is quite often), it enhances and adds color to the story rather than bringing it to a halt. Considering just how much of the movie consists of people taking long walks from one place to another, it’s amazing how it never gets dull, thanks to sharp editing and colorful dialogue. The final scenes of the movie are also pretty spectacular, with an epic native war and a dangerous pit of lava coming into play.


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