King Solomon’s Mines (1950)

An astonishing picture, King Solomon’s Mines became one of the classics of the adventure genre standing clearly above most of its previous and contemporary peers due to its naturalistic style and the no-nonsense performances by Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr.
Allan Quartermain is a middle-aged English man working as a hunter-for-hire in central-eastern Africa. After completing a failed safari hunt during which one of his close associates, a native father of one, died, he considers returning to England and his estranged seven-year-old son. However, he decides to take on one last assignment when a countess with her brother approach him and offer him a large sum of money to help them locate the countess’ husband who disappeared looking for the fabled King Solomon’s Mines in an uncharted territory near Quartermain’s area of activities.
Despite being based on one of the most famous series of colonial adventure novels, King Solomon’s Mines succeeds exactly because it avoids almost all of the era’s imperialistic and racist stereotypes. Quartermain, marvelously portrayed by Stewart Granger, is being exposed as a tormented man finally admitting to himself that the reason behind his adventurous lifestyle is his denial to take on the responsibilities of the adolescent life. On the other hand, Kerr’s character stands out because of her own moral ambiguity trying to locate a husband whom she admittedly never loved in order to relieve herself of the guilt that her emotional denial was the reason behind him leaving and trying to prove himself.
But despite the strong drama, adventure is King Solomon’s Mines’ centerfold. The heroes will confront hostile tribes, wild animals, and harsh weather before engaging in a battle for survival and royal heirloom and their strides will leave the viewer satisfied while craving for more. This picture gave a new breath of life to the adventure-in-the-jungle sub-genre and showcased the images and sounds of the continent that was the cradle of life in a never before seen magnificence and realism so spectacular and unique that its footage was used as stock in numerous later MGM flicks.

A true masterpiece, King Solomon’s Mines leaves even the most demanding viewer with a taste of quality that is now, in the modern CGI-generated spectacle that is today’s adventure movie, long-lost much like the fabled destination in the film’s title.
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