This is a lighthearted attempt at making a modern-day story of Moses with Mitchum as the star. It works only partially, as Mitchum doesn't have the wherewithal to carry such a heavy load. He's an American con man, phony doctor, and sometime diamond smuggler operating in Africa. He is
tossed into a river by a group of irate Africans who are wiser than he gives them credit for. Floating downstream, he lands in the bulrushes (is this literal enough for you?) next to a village that is about to be flooded as part of a government dam project. He's rescued by Baker, the daughter of
the resident missionary, Knox, who is trying to convince the natives that they have to leave. The locals are reluctant to go because they will not be allowed to take their animals with them; they feel that their animals are like family and elect to die with them rather than separate. Mitchum puts
on a magic show for the natives and sets fire to a bush--a little trick he learned while working in a circus a while back. At the same time, the local commissioner, Bannen, is about to use force to move the recalcitrant villagers. However, Martins, the chief, has heard about Moses in the Bible and
announces that Mitchum is a reincarnation of that hero chosen by Fate to lead them out of the wilderness. Mitchum is less than thrilled at that designation and would like to get out of it, but Baker knows all about his illegal dealings and threatens to report him to the authorities unless he
agrees to head the column across the wastelands. Along the way, Mitchum is at odds with St. Jacques, an African who was educated in the US and resents Mitchum's influence over the tribesmen, especially since St. Jacques thinks he's something special because his daddy is the local witch doctor.
Mitchum opens the gates to the dam so that the water runs off and he can lead the Africans across (again the parallel). St. Jacques knows that Mitchum is a fraud and not the spirit of Moses, so he attempts to unmask Mitchum and begins a wild dance that results in Bannen's helicopter being
destroyed and St. Jacques being burned to death in a fire. The trek continues until Mitchum gets the villagers to the appointed place. Bannen needed Mitchum to lead the natives, but now that that's over, he gives Mitchum the chance to exit, which he does into the jungle. Baker decides that she
would rather be a smuggler's girl than a missionary's daughter, so she chases after Mitchum as the picture ends.
If the story of a trip across Africa with a con man and a relative of a missionary sounds familiar, we refer you to THE AFRICAN QUEEN, which did it earlier and far better. The acting here is OK, but St. Jacques is too loathsome to be believable. The picture does offer good camerawork and lots of
panoramic vistas, having been shot in Kenya, at Lake Naivasha, and in the game reserve at Amboselli.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This is a lighthearted attempt at making a modern-day story of Moses with Mitchum as the star. It works only partially, as Mitchum doesn't have the wherewithal to carry such a heavy load. He's an American con man, phony doctor, and sometime diamond smuggle… (more)