Memorable version of H. Rider Haggard's oft-filmed novel which boasts superior production values and an excellent performance from Robeson. Spunky Irishwoman Kathy O'Brien (Lee) becomes determined to search for her father, who has disappeared deep in the African jungles while searching
for the fabled diamond cache known as King Solomon's Mines. She is accompanied by three explorers (Hardwicke, Young, and Loder) and is guided through the treacherous territory by dignified African native Umbopa (Robeson). After hacking their way through desert and jungle, the small party finally
arrives at an encampment of natives who look to the white explorers as gods. The tribe is run by an evil king who had stolen the throne from Umbopa years ago with the help of the witch Gagool (Fairbrother). Sensing a threat to their reign, the king and Gagool plot to kill the newcomers. The
explorers manage to defend themselves, though, by capitalizing on a soon-to-arrive solar eclipse to prove that their magic is more powerful than Gagool's. Refusing to give up, the deposed king leads an attack by rival warriors. A final battle, the discovery of the mine and an ill-timed volcano
bring the story to its thundering close.
Robeson almost singlehandedly undermines the racism in this classic adventure tale. It's a shame he had to go to England to become a movie star and even then (with occasional exceptions like PROUD VALLEY) he was generally cast as semi-articulate but sweet African natives. In this respect his very
American singing interludes throw the entire film out of kilter, but he's so good that one really doesn't care.
He, Hardwicke, Fairbrother and Young are the standouts in KING SOLOMON'S MINES, which does less well by its romantic lead roles. Kathy and Henry are not choice parts, and the generally reliable Loder and the less-than-reliable Lee don't come off so well. Their love scenes tend to put a damper on
the film between action highlights. The script is decent and director Stevenson shows the promise he would later (sometimes) get to display in Hollywood.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Memorable version of H. Rider Haggard's oft-filmed novel which boasts superior production values and an excellent performance from Robeson. Spunky Irishwoman Kathy O'Brien (Lee) becomes determined to search for her father, who has disappeared deep in the A… (more)