June 14, 2023

KING SOLOMON’S MINES (1950): Still the Best Version

1950 / 103 min
Review by Mr. Paws😺

Of all the adaptations featuring H. Rider Haggard’s classic character, Allan Quatermain, the 1950 version of King Solomon’s Mines is arguably the best one…certainly the most successful. Picturesque, pulpy, maybe just a bit silly and archaic, it nevertheless remains a highly entertaining adventure film.

Stewart Granger is terrific as Quatermain, a cynical safari guide in Africa who reluctantly accepts a job escorting Elizabeth Curtis (Deborah Kerr) into a notoriously dangerous, largely unexplored region to find her husband, who disappeared a few years earlier looking for a legendary diamond mine. Quatermain is certain he’s dead, since no white man has ever ventured there and returned, but she’s persistent, willing to pay way more than his usual fee. 

It’s a journey fraught with pitfalls and peril…wild animals, hostile natives, scorching desert and a fugitive living among a tribe of cannibals. However, time does funny things to some movies. The film isn’t quite as action packed as I remembered when it thrilled me as a kid, nor is the diamond mine as central to the plot as I once thought. Since the search party makes no effort to even look for it, it barely qualifies as a McGuffin. But as they say, it’s not the destination, but the journey, which is exciting and fun.

"I got it from The Gap, where I buy all my shirts."
The film also includes your standard antagonistic relationship between Quatermain and Elizabeth before (of course) falling in love. Granger isn’t what anyone would call a versatile actor, but his on-screen charisma suits Quatermain well, making the character tough but likable. The same can’t be said for Elizabeth. Kerr tries, but not only is the character a walking cliche (a fish-out-of-water who screams at snakes and exists to be saved by a man), her reason for trying to find hubby doesn't generate much sympathy. 

King Solomon's Mines may seem quaint to anyone weaned on Indiana Jones, but historically speaking, it's a handsomely-produced action-adventure classic (with Oscar-winning cinematography that looks great on Blu-ray). Viewed in the context of when it was made, the film still delivers plenty of thrills & spills.


“JUNGLE SAFARI” - Promotional short, which is obviously sponsored by Dodge and features little about the movie itself. An amusing drinking game could be played by doing a shot every time the vehicle brand is mentioned.


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