King Solomon's Mines is a 1950 Technicolor adventure film, and the second film adaptation of the 1885 novel of the same name by Henry Rider Haggard. It stars Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger and Richard Carlson. It was adapted by Helen Deutsch, directed by Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
|King Solomon's Mines|
|Screenplay by||Helen Deutsch|
|Based on||King Solomon's Mines|
by H. Rider Haggard
|Produced by||Sam Zimbalist|
|Music by||Mischa Spoliansky|
|Distributed by||Loew's, Inc|
|Box office||$15.1 million|
In "British East Africa" (Kenya Colony) in 1897, experienced British safari guide Allan Quatermain is persuaded by Elizabeth Curtis to look for her husband, who disappeared in the unexplored African interior while searching for the legendary titular mines. She has a copy of the map he used. A tall, mysterious native, Umbopa, joins the safari, as do Elizabeth and her brother John Goode. Allan has no use for women on a safari, but during the long and grueling journey, he and Elizabeth begin to fall in love.
The party encounters Van Brun, a lone white man living with a tribe. They learn that he met Curtis. However, when Allan recognizes him as a fugitive who cannot afford to let them go, they take him hostage to leave the village safely. Van Brun tries to shoot Allan, killing his faithful right-hand man Khiva instead. Allan dispatches Van Brun, and the party flees from the angry villagers.
When they finally reach the region where the mines are supposed to be, they are met by people who resemble Umbopa. They discover that their companion is royalty; he has returned to attempt to dethrone the evil usurper King Twala (Baziga). Umbopa leaves with his supporters to raise a rebellion, while Allan, Elizabeth and John travel to a tense meeting with Twala. With his last rifle bullet, John kills a would-be attacker, temporarily quelling the natives.
The king's advisor, Gagool, communicates that they have seen Curtis and leads them to a cave that contains a trove of jewels and the skeletal remains of Elizabeth's husband. While they are distracted by this grisly discovery, Gagool sneaks away and triggers a booby trap that seals them inside the cave. They find a way out through an underground stream and return to Twala's kraal, just as Umbopa and his followers arrive.
Umbopa's people have an unusual method of deciding a disputed kingship. The two claimants duel to the death. Despite cheating by one of Twala's men, Umbopa wins. Afterwards, he provides an escort for his friends' return trip.
- Deborah Kerr as Elizabeth Curtis
- Stewart Granger as Allan Quatermain
- Richard Carlson as John Goode
- Hugo Haas as Van Brun ("Smith")
- Lowell Gilmore as Eric Masters
- Kimursi as Khiva (credited as Kimursi of the Kipsigi Tribe)
- Siriaque as Umbopa
- Sekaryongo as Chief Gagool
- Baziga as King Twala (credited as Baziga of the Watussi Tribe)
In October 1948, Helen Deutsch was assigned to write the script.
MGM typically made one or two big "overseas" spectacles a year around this time. When Quo Vadis was postponed, it was decided to film King Solomon's Mines on location in Africa. Production equipment was trucked in, with a total travel distance of over 70,000 miles (110,000 km), using a convoy of Dodge trucks.
Like virtually all film versions, this also changes Haggard's plot to include a female lead. But it strays even further from the novel than the 1937 British adaptation King Solomon's Mines. There are several African characters in the book, particularly Umbopa, a king in disguise. In the earlier film, Paul Robeson received top billing for the role, whereas in this version, Umbopa's importance is greatly reduced.
Deborah Kerr was announced as the female lead in July 1949. MGM wanted Errol Flynn to co-star. The same month Compton Bennett was signed to direct; he had just finished That Forsyte Woman for MGM with Flynn.
Filming took place at the following locations in Africa: Murchison Falls in Uganda; Astrida, "the land of giant Watusis"; Volcano Country and Stanleyville in the Belgian Congo; Tanganyika; and Rumuruti and Machakos in Kenya.
The film marked the beginning of Eva Monley's career as a Hollywood location scout and producer, specializing in Africa. Monley received her first film job as a script supervisor and assistant during production of King Solomon's Mines. Additionally, the cave scene was filmed in the Slaughter Canyon Cave in Carlsbad Caverns National Park and other scenes at nearby Sitting Bull Falls in Lincoln National Forest, both in the state of New Mexico, in the Southwestern United States.
In February 1950, after five months of location filming in Africa, Andrew Marton replaced Compton Bennett as director. The official reason given was Bennett fell ill but there were rumours that Bennett had a falling out with some of the cast.
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote that "there is more than a trace of outright hokum in this thriller ... but there is also an ample abundance of scenic novelty and beauty to compensate." Variety called it a "striking adventure film" with "high excitement in meetings with wild savages and beasts and a number of excellently staged fights-to-the-death." Harrison's Reports called it "a highly spectacular romantic adventure melodrama that has the rare quality of holding an audience captivated from start to finish." John McCarten of The New Yorker wrote, "'King Solomon's Mines' undertakes to show what a safari through Africa might have been up against fifty years ago. In this, I think, the picture, which was shot in the African highlands, succeeds admirably." The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "a somewhat stilted epic, strangely lacking in excitement", with Kerr seeming "miscast and out of place."
According to MGM records, the film earned $5,047,000 in the US and Canada. It made $4,908,000 elsewhere. After production and other associated costs were deducted, the movie made a profit of $4,049,000, which made it MGM's most successful film of 1950, and the second highest-grossing film of that year in the United States.
Awards and nominationsEdit
- "Of Local Origin". The New York Times. November 9, 1950. p. 43.
- 'The Eddie Mannix Ledger', Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study, Los Angeles
- "King Solomon's Mines (1950)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
- "Metro Signs Gable to New Contract: Actor Agrees to Take Lead in 'Hucksters,' With Deborah Kerr, English Player Of Local Origin". The New York Times. November 4, 1946. p. 42.
- "Metro is Planning Musical of Old Hit". The New York Times. October 20, 1948. p. 37.
- T. F. (August 7, 1949). "Video Problem". The New York Times. ProQuest 105748035. (subscription required)
- Loew's (1950). Jungle Safari.
- Brady, Thomas F. (July 23, 1949). "Deborah Kerr Gets Metro Movie Lead". The New York Times. ProQuest 105803181. (subscription required)
- Hedda Hopper (July 23, 1949). "Deborah Kerr Stars in 'Solomon's Mines'". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 165994338. (subscription required)
- Schallert, Edwin (July 25, 1949). "Walt Disney to Speed 'Cinderella'; Gary Cooper Will Narrate Scenic". Los Angeles Times. p. A7.
- Brady, Thomas F. (August 3, 1949). "Stewart Granger Signs With Metro". The New York Times. ProQuest 105767934. (subscription required)
- T. F. (August 7, 1949). "Video Problem". ProQuest 105748035. (subscription required)
- Scheuer, P. K. (October 2, 1949). "Role in Movie to Take British Star 42,600 Miles". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 165994963. (subscription required)
- Brady, Thomas F. (September 7, 1949). "Carlson is Signed for Lead at Metro: Will Appear With Granger and Kerr in 'King Solomon's Mines,' to Be Done in Africa". The New York Times. p. 39.
- "King Solomon's Mines (1950): Notes". Turner Classic Movies.
- "Eva Monley dies at 88". Variety. November 21, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
- Frank Daugherty (September 1, 1950). "Letter From Hollywood". The Christian Science Monitor. p. 5.
- Brady, Thomas F. (February 26, 1950). "Hollywood Wire: Gun Moll Leading Sweet Altered All-Time Bests Switch New Unit". The New York Times. p. X5.
- Crowther, Bosley (November 10, 1950). "The Screen". The New York Times. p. 43.
- "King Solomon's Mines". The New York Times. September 27, 1950. p. 8.
- "'King Solomon's Mines' with Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger". The New York Times. September 30, 1950. p. 43.
- McCarten, John (November 11, 1950). "The Current Screen". The New York Times. p. 155.
- "King Solomon's Mines". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 18 (204): 204. January 1951.
- "Vivien Leigh Actress of the Year". Townsville Daily Bulletin. Qld. December 29, 1951. p. 1. Retrieved July 9, 2012 – via National Library of Australia.
- Box office information for Stewart Granger films in France at Box Office Story
- Kirby, Walter (November 30, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved June 14, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- King Solomon's Mines at AllMovie
- King Solomon's Mines at the TCM Movie Database
- King Solomon's Mines at IMDb
- King Solomon's Mines at the American Film Institute Catalog
- King Solomon's Mines at Rotten Tomatoes
- King Solomon's Mines on Lux Radio Theater: December 1, 1952
- Zone Troopers: Website about the different Allan Quatermain and King Solomon's Mine films