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Warner Home Video presents
King Solomon's Mines (1950)

Quatermain: They're not dangerous when they're hungry.
Elizabeth Curtis: Well, how do you know when they're hungry?
Quatermain: Well, if they eat you, they're hungry.

- Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: January 10, 2005

Stars: Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger, Richard Carlson
Other Stars: Hugo Haas, Lowell Gilmore, Siriaque, Sekaryango, Baziga
Director: Compton Bennett, Andrew Morton

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence)
Run Time: 01h:42m:25s
Release Date: January 11, 2005
UPC: 012569672253
Genre: adventure

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-BC- D+

DVD Review

The adventure stories of H. Rider Haggard have thrilled readers for generations. Prominent amongst his heroes is Allen Quatermain, who featured in some of Haggard's exotic tales of Africa. The first book in the series was King Solomon's Mines (1885), which formed the basis of this MGM production, filmed primarily on location in east Africa.

Quatermain (Stewart Granger) is acting as a guide for big game hunters in Africa in 1897. John Goode (Richard Carlson) comes to him with a strange request: to take him and his sister, Elizabeth Curtis (Deborah Kerr) into the interior, following in the footsteps of her lost husband, Henry Curtis. Although at first reluctant, a large sum of cash changes Quatermain's mind and he takes the pair on many adventures as they try to find Henry and his goal, the diamond mines of King Solomon. On the way, they encounter jungles and deserts, poisonous snakes, crocodiles, an escaped murderer, and the Watusi tribe.

Where the novels of Haggard were thrilling and compelling (if stiffly Victorian), this adaptation feels fairly lifeless. Maybe it's the ready access to the Discovery Channel today, but the thrill of 1950 audiences in seeing endless African native dances and footage of animals in the wild just can't be duplicated for today's jaded viewers. Unfortunately, there's altogether too much of this kind of material on display here to satisfy, making this feel like a creaky travelogue with a story uneasily slapped onto it.

Stewart Granger does a nice job with Quatermain, giving him conflicted feelings and more than a cardboard standard-issue hero. One point modern audiences will appreciate is his distaste for the big game hunting that he leads; he refuses to shoot the animals himself. In addition, he has longings for returning to England that feel at least somewhat credible. Kerr is very good as always, even though she's stuck here following the standard arc of romance from irritability to passion. The pair do have a few good exchanges, such as Quatermain's insistence that a corset is inappropriate garb for the African tropics. Carlson is pretty colorless and his character ends up a complete nonentity. The minor subplot with Van Brun (Hugo Haas), who has taken over a village of Africans gets fairly short shrift. The mines themselves feel like an afterthought, and the film doesn't end so much as just stop.

If one is interested in African culture, one could certainly do worse than this Technicolor extravaganza. But if you're looking for exciting adventure, this is likely to disappoint.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The full-frame picture is adequate but little more. The Technicolor is rather subdued but it's acceptable. The location shooting sometimes is a bit washed out, especially in the wildlife sequences not featuring the stars. The picture is very soft throughout, and the source print has some mild speckling but no serious damage.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: The 1.0 English track has significant hiss, noise and crackle throughout. The music is very much lacking in range but the dialogue is quite clear.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Aviator
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:02m:11s

Extras Review: Other than a trailer for the film and a pre-menu trailer for The Aviator (what's the connection?) there are no extras. Chaptering is reasonably thorough.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Some films just don't hold up well over time, and this is certainly one of them. Despite being fondly remembered, it's pretty dull. The transfer isn't the sharpest, and there are no extras beyond a trailer.


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