Monday, June 26, 2023

King Solomon's Mines

Sir H. Rider Haggard's novel has been adapted and referenced numerous times over the years in film, television, and radio but none more famously than the 1950 adaptation starring Stewart Granger as talented but weary English big game hunter and adventurer Allan Quatermain who, against his better judgement, is hired by a woman (Deborah Kerr) in search of her missing husband who disappeared while searching for a diamond mine in uncharted regions of Africa.

The majority of the film focuses on the group's safari through the jungle, with Quartermain and Elizabeth bickering along the way while various other members of the expedition drop like flies. Much of the film was shot in Africa in Uganda, the Belgian Congo, and Kenya while also making use of Carlsbad Caverns and the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico.

While they are mentioned several times in the story, the movie isn't a search for the mythical diamond mines but instead for Elizabeth's husband who went looking for them. However, to find the latter they will need to journey into the former (which, aside from the caves themselves, isn't all that impressive). Along the journey to, and through, the dark territory the safari will face both natural and man-made dangers, the desertion of much of their party, and adding a member to the group who will turn out to be a king (Siriaque) in exile returning home to claim his kingdom leading to the discovery of the fate of the missing Curtis and one final obstacle for the party to overcome.

The road to King Solomon's Mines is more important than the destination for a film that puts the focus squarely on the beauty and dangers of Africa our explorers will need to endure in order to reach their goal. Fans of the genre will see themes which will, years later, be improved on in films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, but King Solomon's Mines still holds up fairly well decades later with the help of the Warner Archive Collection restoring the original luster of the film, although extras are lacking with only a single short featurette and the film's trailer.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: King Solomon's Mines
  • IMDb: link

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