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King Solomon's Mines (1937 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

King Solomon's Mines
Film poster
Directed byRobert Stevenson (lead)
Geoffrey Barkas (African exteriors)
Screenplay byMichael Hogan
Roland Pertwee (dialogue)
Charles Bennett (uncredited)
A. R. Rawlinson (uncredited)
Ralph Spence (uncredited)
Based onKing Solomon's Mines
1885 novel
by H. Rider Haggard
StarringCedric Hardwicke
Anna Lee
Paul Robeson
Roland Young
CinematographyGlen MacWilliams
Edited byMichael Gordon
Music byMischa Spoliansky
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors
Release dates
17 June 1937 (UK)
26 July 1937 (US)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

King Solomon's Mines is a 1937 British adventure film directed by Robert Stevenson and starring Paul Robeson, Cedric Hardwicke, Anna Lee, John Loder and Roland Young. A film adaptation of the 1885 novel of the same name by Henry Rider Haggard, the film was produced by the Gaumont British Picture Corporation at Lime Grove Studios in Shepherd's Bush. Sets were designed by art director Alfred Junge. Of all the novel's adaptations, this film is considered to be the most faithful to the book.[1]

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In 1882, Irish dream chaser Patrick "Patsy" O'Brien and his daughter Kathy have failed to strike it rich in the diamond mines of Kimberley, South Africa (then the Cape Colony). They persuade a reluctant Allan Quartermain to drive them to the coast in his wagon.

Along the way, they encounter another wagon carrying two men in bad shape. Umbopa recovers, but Silvestra Getto dies after boasting to Quartermain that he has found the way to the fabled mines of Solomon. Patsy finds the dead man's map and sneaks off during the night, unwilling to risk his daughter's life. Kathy is unable to persuade Quartermain to follow him; instead, they rendezvous with Quartermain's new clients, Sir Henry Curtis and retired naval commander John Good, who are hunting for big game.

Kathy steals Quartermain's wagon to pursue her father. When they catch up with her, she refuses to return with them, so they and Umbopa accompany her across the desert and over the mountains shown on the map. During the arduous trek, Curtis and Kathy fall in love. On the other side of the mountains, they are surrounded by unfriendly natives and taken to the kraal of their chief Twala to be questioned. Twala takes them to see the entrance of the mines that are guarded by the feared witch doctor Gagool.

That night, Umbopa reveals that he is the son of the former chief who was treacherously killed by the usurper Twala. He meets with dissidents, led by Infadoos, who are fed up with Twala's cruel reign. Together, they plot an uprising for the next day during the ceremony of the "smelling out of the evildoers." However, Umbopa needs Quartermain to devise a plan that the natives think will counter Gagool's magic.

During the rite, Gagool chooses several natives who are killed on the spot. Recalling having made a bet on the previous year's Derby Day, Good notices in his diary that there will be a total solar eclipse that day at exactly 11:15 a.m. The quick-thinking Quartermain predicts the eclipse as Gagool approaches Umbopa. Umbopa reveals his true identity to the people during the height of the eclipse and the rebellion erupts. Both sides gather their forces, and during the ensuing battle, Curtis kills Twala, ending the civil war.

In the fighting, Kathy slips away to the mine to look for her father. She finds him inside, immobilized by a broken leg but clutching a pouch full of diamonds. Quartermain, Curtis and Good follow her, but Gagool sets off a rockfall to seal them in. Inside they learn that the mine is connected to a volcano which had led the mine to be sealed up long ago. Umbopa pursues Gagool back into the mine, where the witch doctor is crushed by falling rocks. The new chief manages to free his friends as the volcano was about to erupt and gives them an escort to help them cross the desert.



Gaumont-British announced the film in 1935[2][3] and Paul Robeson was signed in 1936.[4] Filming began in Shepherd's Bush, London in November 1936, and the unit then travelled to Africa for a further eight weeks of work.[5]

Charles Bennett is credited as one of the writers, but he claimed that he "didn't really" contribute to the screenplay. He said that he was opposed to the idea of a woman going along on the trip ("it was a damn silly idea") and took himself off the project.[6]


Writing for Night and Day in 1937, Graham Greene gave the film a neutral review, summarizing it as "a 'seeable' picture." Greene praised the acting of Hardwicke and Young as well as the clever dovetailing of scenes from Geoffrey Barkas' documentary, but he disliked the performances by Loder and Robeson and yearned for Lucoque's 1919 black-and-white version, which he felt was more faithful to Haggard's original 1885 book.[7]

See also


  1. ^[bare URL]
  2. ^ "THEATRE and SCREEN". The Age. No. 25, 022. Victoria, Australia. 26 June 1935. p. 13. Retrieved 4 December 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "Through "Smith's" Private Projector". Smith's Weekly. Vol. XVII, no. 30. New South Wales, Australia. 21 September 1935. p. 23. Retrieved 4 December 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ "Features Of The Latest Shows". Weekly Times. No. 3592. Victoria, Australia. 1 August 1936. p. 51 (FIRST EDITION). Retrieved 4 December 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "Stage and Screen Personalities". The Sydney Morning Herald. No. 30, 838. New South Wales, Australia. 3 November 1936. p. 9 (Women's Supplement). Retrieved 4 December 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ Tom Weaver Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews McFarland, 2003 p 30
  7. ^ Greene, Graham (12 August 1937). "A Day at the Races/King Solomon's Mines". Night and Day. (reprinted in: Taylor, John Russell, ed. (1980). The Pleasure Dome. Oxford University Press. p. 161. ISBN 0192812866.)

External links

This page was last edited on 15 February 2024, at 04:56
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