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  • Lonnie Douglas (Robert Mitchum) and his partner, Huysman (Walter Slezak), guide a dedicated nurse Ellen Burton (Susan Hayward) to the distant jungle outpost where she, as a volunteer, has been sent to give medical aid to the natives.. But Huysman and Lonni also have plans of their own: it is said that there is hidden gold in the Bakuba country, and they are determined to find it...

    They penetrate the remote interior of the Belgian Congo by means of a primitive canoe propelled by a native crew... At one of their portages Ellen cures a native chief's wife (Dorothy Harris) and the witch doctor, seeking revenge for her interference, tries to kill her with a tarantula, but she manages to escape its poisonous bite...

    Later, Lonni saves a boy who has been severely injured fighting a lion... The lad is the son of the Bakuba king and wears a necklace made of gold nuggets—the treasure Lonni and Huysman are seeking... Perhaps this is the opportunity they've been waiting for, Lonni thinks, and devises a plan for using the Bakuba boy to get the gold...

    There have been quite a number of Adventurers ladies, the most notably adventurous of whom has perhaps been the aggressive and resilient Susan Hayward who was at her best not in the Oscar-Winning vein of 'I Want to Live,' but roughing it out in the jungle in films like 'White Witch Doctor.'

    She was quite capable of blasting Jack Elam with a rifle at the end of 'Rawhide,' and in 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro,' she was tough enough to send the witch doctor packing and go to work with a knife on Gregory Peck who will otherwise die from the infection that was building up in him... Hayward was the great outdoor actress—indoors, she was often a bit too much to take...

    This was Hayward's second movie with Robert Mitchum... They were teamed in Nicholas Ray's rodeo movie in 'The Lusty Men' (1952).

    Africa was the real star of "White Witch Doctor," with beautiful color shots of the Congo and Bakubas caught in their colorful dances, taken by Leon Shamroy, three times an Oscar winner...
  • Susan Hayward plays a missionary nurse sent to Africa to help a female doctor with a jungle hospital. Robert Mitchum is a wild game trapper and partner of Walter Slezak in seeking gold in the pre-World War I Belgian Congo. They escort her to the hospital as a pretext to search for gold rumored to be with a not very friendly tribe.

    Politics is touched upon ever so briefly in this film. If it were made today the film would be a lot more explicit about the holocaust that was the Belgian Congo. Slezak makes a remark to Mitchum during the beginning of the film saying that they have to move fast since the Belgian government was taking over the running of the Congo. Just before World War I that is what happened. Up to that point the Congo colony was PRIVATELY run for King Leopold with no responsibility to anyone, but the king. Slezak's concern was that law and order was coming to the Congo.

    The King had died around that time and reports about atrocities committed in the Congo by Leopold's hired help were shocking the civilized world. As well it should have been shocked. Torture, murder, maimings were routine occurrences. The report was put together by Roger Casement who later was executed for treason for his support of Irish freedom. The Bakuba tribe where this gold was allegedly from had real good reason to fear white folks at that time.

    The American cinema had grown up post World War II as far as it's treatment of Africa. We Americans were a pathetically ignorant group about Africa and in many respects we still are. Our ideas about Africa came from Tarzan movies. But MGM gave us King Solomon's Mines and UA gave us The African Queen and we finally saw the real Africa.

    The female missionary role was old hat by now. But Hayward is a nurse, not a psalm singer like Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen. Africa and the Belgian Congo in particular needed more of her kind and less of Hepburn's.

    Mitchum is good as the cynical hero who is won over by the love of a good woman. Walter Slezak plays another of his patent brand of shrewd villains. Slezak was always good, and when he was a villain he was never a stupid one.

    It's not as good as African Queen or Kings Solomon's Mines. Rates right up there with Mogambo though. Susan Hayward would return to Africa in Untamed and Mitchum would explore the jungle again in Mister Moses.

    I wish the film could be done today with the politics more fully examined, but for the Fifties this was a step in the right direction.
  • "White Witch Doctor," which premiered on July 1, 1953, is the type of movie that I can enjoy greatly while watching it, all the while knowing that I am not watching anything great or extraordinary. And the main reason for that enjoyment, in this case, is the presence of Miss Susan Hayward in the title role. Has there ever been an actress who combined such drop-dead good looks with extraordinary acting ability? Not for me, anyway! Hayward's sheer presence in a movie makes it hard for me to be objective in a critique; I can enjoy anything she appears in, just by looking at that marvelous face. Anyway, you know where I'm coming from. In this picture, Hayward plays a nurse who ventures into the Congo in 1907 to help out at a remote mission. Her guide is Robert Mitchum (her costar in 1952's "The Lusty Men"), who takes her into this Bakuba territory with an ulterior motive: the finding of the gold deposits that supposedly reside there. Along the way, the two encounter just about every safari-movie cliche in the book: the mad gorilla (actually, a man in a gorilla suit), a charging lion, totem fetishes warning journeyers to "STAY OUT," angry witch doctors, a rope bridge, wildly dancing natives and the like. (Sorry, no quicksand.) At one point, Hayward awakens in her tent to find a tarantula crawling on her (a "gift" from a jealous witch doctor), almost a full decade before James Bond, in "Dr. No," faced the same dilemma. I wish I could say that Susan's nurse character faces the predicament with Gems' cool, but in a situation like that, how many people could? Neither Hayward nor Mitchum travelled to Africa to make this picture (this is NOT "The African Queen"!), but there is a lot of location photography of a very beautiful order. The studio sets and actual locales are very well integrated, so the picture never really looks phony. Mitchum here plays a very likeable character, with little of the sluggish moroseness so characteristic of many of his other roles. And Hayward, "the Brooklyn Bombshell," is simply wonderful as Ellen Burton, the American nurse on her first trip into the wilds of Africa. She manages to impress the viewer and the natives alike with her medical abilities and her courage, despite an understandable scream or two when faced with the odd spider, snake, or spear-wielding native. Hayward, 35 when she made this picture, is given many close-ups that reveal what a remarkable beauty she was. In that tarantula scene, for example, director Henry Hathaway shows her lying asleep in bed, her long titian tresses framing her face in close-up, and she really does look stunning in beautiful color. Though the picture doesn't enable either of the two leads an opportunity for any great thespian displays, both manage to make the best of things, pros that they are. The picture really is a rather pedestrian affair, albeit one with great photography and yet another moody Bernard Herrmann score, but it is totally redeemed for me by the presences of the two leads...especially Hayward's. "White Witch Doctor" would make a wonderful double feature with Hayward's other African picture, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," or perhaps with a picture that came out the following year, "The Naked Jungle," featuring another redheaded beauty, Eleanor Parker, stuck in the jungles of South America. I'm not sure that "White Witch Doctor" is in the same league as those other two, but it still makes for a marvelous entertainment, and is eminently suitable for the kiddies, as well. I thoroughly enjoyed it...but, like I said, you know where I'm coming from!
  • Enjoyable as well colorful film about a dedicated nurse who attempts to cure troubled people in the Belgian Congo .Set in 1907 when a nurse : Susan Hayward arrives in the Belgian Congo to work for a missionary doctor . There she meets a tough animal hunter : Robert Mitchum and , both of them gradually revealing their pasts each other . This is the exciting story of a woman who followed a dream to the end of the earth and found a love that will love to the end of time .

    Director Henry Hathaway struck a correct balance of pace and sensitivity in the absorbing tale of a young woman who arrives in the Belgian colony governed by King Leopold of Belgium to help a religious missionary to work at a hospital . As she is struggling to reconcile her free spirit and philanthropic wishes with the jungle rigors . Finely starred by a luminous Susan Hayward who chalked up another hit in this long but always interesting flick based on Louise Stinetorf's novel , being rightly adapted . This agreeable flick packs a moving screenplay , intense drama , fine interpretations and intelligent filmmaking . Good acting by Susan Hayward as a philantropic nurse who gains the trust of the local people and falls in love for a rude hunter . Robert Mitchum gives a decent and stoic acting , as usual , as the two-fisted adventurer . Walter Slezak plays as the bad guy and brief interpretations from Timothy Carey and Michael Ansara . This film follows the wake of the highly acclaimed ¨Nun's story¨ by Fred Zinneman starred by Audrey Hepburn ,Peter Finch that consolidated a sub-genre about nuns or religious people in far countries , going on ¨Heaven knows , Mr Allison¨ with Robert Mitchum Deborah Kerr and ¨A Nun at the Crossroads¨ with Rosanna Schiaffino and John Richardson , and ¨The Sins of Rachel Cade¨ by Gordon Douglas with Angie Dickinson , Peter Finch , Roger Moore , among others .

    Colorful cinematography in Technicolor by Leon Shamroy , it was filmed on location in Democratic Republic of Congo regarding some stock-shots and background ; as well as in Calabasas , California . Thrilling and evocative musical score by Bernard Herrmann , Hitchcock regular. The motion picture was professionally directed by Henry Hathaway . Henry was a Hollywood classic filmmaker who worked with the greatest actors . As John Wayne played for Hathaway various films as ¨The sons of Katie Elder (65), ¨Circus World (64) ¨ certainly not one of his memorable movies , ¨How the west was won (62) ¨, ¨ North to Alaska (60)¨ , but his greatest hit smash was ¨True grit (69)¨ in which Wayne won his only Academy Award . Hathaway directed all kinds of genres , but especially Western : ¨From Hell to Texas¨ , ¨5 card stud¨, ¨Shootout¨ , ¨Rawhide¨ , ¨Wild Horse Mesa¨ , ¨Heritage of the desert¨ ,¨The Thundering Herd¨ and WWII . Henry directed the classic 20th Century-Fox movie about Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and also set in World War II North Africa, ¨Rommel¨, (1951). Hathaway's other movies about the Second World War were all for studio Twentieth Century-Fox and included ¨The House on 92nd Street¨ (1945); ¨Wing and a Prayer¨ (1944); ¨You're in the Navy Now¨ (1951) and ¨13 Rue Madeleine¨ (1947) and his last film : Raid on Rommel that was a massive flop and was quickly withdrawn from theaters . .Although Hathaway was a highly successful and reliable director film-making within the Hollywood studio system , his work has received little consideration from reviewers . The motion picture will appeal to Susan Hayward and Robert Mitchum fans
  • BrandtSponseller22 January 2005
    Lonni Douglas (Robert Mitchum) is a trapper working in Africa around the turn of the 20th Century. He captures large, exotic animals that he then sells to zoos around the world. His partner, Huysman (Walter Slezak), who is more the type to stay in the "office" and supervise, has an ulterior motive--he believes there is gold in "them thar" hills. So Douglas has been searching for the gold for years. There is only one place left to look--a remote area far up the Congo, inhabited by a tribe hostile to white men. When nurse Ellen Burton (Susan Hayward) arrives as an assistant for a doctor in a village neighboring the remote one, however, Huysman sees it as the perfect opportunity, with a benevolent "false front" presented to the tribes-people, for Douglas to take her up the Congo and search for the source of the gold.

    Based on a novel by Louise A. Stinetorf, director Henry Hathaway and screenwriters Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts created a genre-spanning feast for the eyes, ears and mind in White Witch Doctor. The film combines adventure, suspense, romance, drama, intentional and unintentional humor, and an almost documentary-like travelogue through Africa.

    The Technicolor cinematography is fantastic, and a great choice as we are treated to various African cultures in traditional dress, occasionally performing traditional dances and other ceremonies, throughout the film. I don't know a lot of background information on the film, but I would bet that some shots were filmed as documentary material in Africa. Possibly, some was stock footage.

    But the heart of the film is Douglas, his relationship to Burton, and an often subtle, mostly subtextual commentary on a clash of cultures, which was far ahead of its time. Both Mitchum an Hayward are fabulous, with Mitchum occasionally approaching an enjoyable camp in his macho swagger and Hayward, in the context of the film and its characters, showing an also ahead-of-its-time underlying strength, intelligence and independence beneath her more stereotypical initial appearance as a beautiful but dependent woman. The script has an effective combination of serious drama with the difficulties of dealing with different cultures as well as a light playfulness.

    This is a little-known gem of a film that deserves a serious first or second look. A 10 out of 10 from me.
  • I hate to disillusion all you commentators who think that SUSAN HAYWARD and ROBERT MITCHUM really went to Africa to film WHITE WITCH DOCTOR. A lot of the stock footage was filmed in Africa and used throughout, but the stars and the supporting players were all photographed on Fox's studio lot, never setting a foot outside the studio except for location scenes filmed elsewhere in California.

    And the story, watchable enough as it is, is not exactly worthy of comparison to either THE African QUEEN or MOGAMBO. In fact, in barren outline, it sounds more like material for a B-picture, a typical '40s jungle film that might have starred Johnny Weissmuller as the big white hunter and fake studio sets to shown tribal natives going into their frenzied dances.

    However, the African footage is blended so well into the studio shots that it's easy to see why some think that this was a film entirely shot on location in Africa. It wasn't.

    SUSAN HAYWARD and ROBERT MITCHUM do competent enough work as the dedicated nurse and the would-be treasure hunter, who uses the pretext of being Hayward's guide into Bakuba territory in order to do a hasty search for hidden treasure so that he can inform his companion, WALTER SLEZANK, of its whereabouts. Slezak plays his usual smarmy standard villain role with relish.

    Nothing spectacular happens and the fake gorilla is laughably obvious--but it has its moments of danger and suspense that make it passable enough as moderately interesting entertainment.
  • I rather enjoyed this film even though it was a little slow in some places. The cinematography alone should have garnered an Oscar nomination (if it didn't) as the settings in Africa were brilliantly and beautifully photographed. The story revolves around a nurse played by Hayward who goes to Africa to assist a woman doctor in taking care of the sick people there. Susan Hayward plays the nurse and upon arrival meets a businessman played by Robert Mitchum. He thinks she's crazy for staying and she's definitely going to stay! Hayward's and Mitchum's lives become endangered when someone decides to make greed the name of the game. Definitely worth watching and sorry it is not available on video.
  • I think bkoganbing has written the most perceptive and accurate review of this film, of all the postings here. Bkoganbing's detailing of the history of the Belgian Congo, from its inception as a private fiefdom of King Leopold, to its transformation into an official "colony," in 1907, is exactly right. And the placing of this film in a 1950s context is also important to point out, as that reviewer has done. When this film was made, the later Zaire/Congo was still a Belgian colony, with independence still a few years away. The makers of the film were no doubt influenced by the prevailing attitudes of the time, and, considering some of those attitudes, the movie is fairly progressive, I think.

    I lived in the Congo in the late 1970s, when it was called Zaire. That was 70 years after the time period of this story, but some of the elements in this film were still in existence when I was there. Most villages had chiefs, of some form or other, and many had what we used to call "witch doctors." A fair number of people believed that these doctors had special powers, and acted accordingly. Drums were/are still used as a form of communication- what used to be called the "bush telegraph." People dressed as most modern people do- T-shirts and sneakers being quite common- but some of the traditional beliefs still held sway. I'm not an expert in Congolese traditional customs and ceremonies, but I was able to observe a number of interesting things while I was there. Experts in the subject could critique this film's depiction of these things far better than I could. But the scenes in the film seemed fairly accurate, to me, especially for the 1907 time period. Though I would stand corrected, if need be.

    I was impressed that they seemed to get the language right. Mitchum says that they are speaking Chiluba, which is in fact one of the major languages of the Congo. There are four major trade languages there- Chiluba, Lingala, Kikongo, and Swahili. These trade languages are used as large regional languages, in different parts of the country, so that people can communicate with one another. Swahili in eastern Congo (and neighboring countries), Lingala in the north, and along some rivers, Kikongo in central areas, and Chiluba in the south-- roughly speaking (and if memory serves correct). There are hundreds of smaller regional and tribal languages, and, while many people can speak five or ten of these languages, they often use one of the four trade languages when in another area. The old colonial Belgian French is still one of the government languages, and many people speak that as well. I spoke French and Kikongo when I was there, in my capacity as a volunteer aid worker. Many of my Congolese/Zairean friends spoke multiple languages (to my shame, as I struggled with just these two). Anyway, I think Mitchum and the others are really speaking Chiluba. I didn't speak that language, but all these languages have some overlapping vocabulary, and I think it was Chiluba, or something like it. Again, another poster may be more knowledgeable than I. It seems that Fox must have done some homework for this picture. Mitchum, too, as he handles himself impressively well with the language. I'd love to read comments by Mitchum on his memorizing that dialogue! Mitchum, one of my favorites, was always a trouper, I think.

    As many have pointed out, he and Hayward never actually went to the Congo. The studio did a pretty good job, I think, of blending studio sets with location shots. Though, as is usually the case, you can spot which are which. Though at least the studio sets aren't as obvious as in many films. The location shots sure brought back memories to me. The river steamers, dugout canoes, riverfront towns, etc.- all looking the same in the '70s, when I was there. The most obvious studio intrusion, to me, was the gorilla you see at the beginning of the film. Though it isn't as bad as many Hollywood "gorillas" you often see- Charlie Gemora in an ape suit, etc., it still detracts from the story. But this IS a 60 year-old film, so it's best not to be too critical, I guess. For its time period, they got some things pretty right. Especially considering that this was not made as a documentary, but as a Mitchum-Hayward entertainment picture, with fictional elements. As one poster pointed out, the source material was a serious book detailing the experiences of two nuns, who tried to bring western medicine to the Congo. Quite a morph there. But still not as outrageous as one might expect from the sensationalistic title. And better and more authentic than lots of other films Hollywood made about Africa, in those days. In my humble opinion, anyway.
  • This is one of several adventure films produced by Hollywood and set in the African jungle made in the wake of KING SOLOMON’S MINES (1950). The narrative offers no surprises whatsoever – but the end result is nonetheless watchable thanks to the soft color, the star combo of Susan Hayward and Robert Mitchum (with Walter Slezak in support), and a notable score from the ever-reliable Bernard Herrmann.

    Hayward was married to a doctor who died before embarking on a mission in Africa; so, being a qualified nurse in her own right, she determines to make his wish come true by going over there herself. When she arrives, the woman discovers that the current (female) medic had succumbed to an epidemic and, so, has to take over all by herself. An American guide/hunter (Mitchum) who also operates there as procurer of animals for international zoos - paving the way for the film's most exciting sequence when a gorilla springs out of its cage - is skeptical about whether she’ll be able to cope…but, naturally, Hayward’s a lot tougher than she at first appears – soon enough, ‘converting’ even the natives when her medicine proves more effective than the potions concocted by the local witch doctors (hence the title)! At one point, she’s called in to treat a chieftain’s son (after he’s attacked by a lion during his rite of passage) whose tribe had been the sworn enemy of the white people!

    The latter emerges to be true once again when Slezak – for years involved in an undercover search for a lost treasure, which partner Mitchum is also aware of – and his men kill members of the tribe who try to oppose their path to the gold; Mitchum, no longer interested in the booty, faces off with Slezak while Hayward is held hostage by the tribe. It goes without saying that the happy ending sees the couple re-united and the chief’s son cured – with the tribe showing their gratitude at this by putting on an impromptu dance. Incidentally, there’s an excess of local color and native chatter – with which interpreter Mitchum seems uncomfortable – throughout the film…but, I guess, both these elements go with the territory!
  • Henry Hathaway had a way with taking so-so scripts and making a decent movie out of it. And it helps to have Robert Mitchum and Susan Hayward playing the leads. Mitchum and Hayward play off each other almost as good as Mitchum and Kerr. And Hayward looks beautiful as she did in all her movies.

    This movie was filmed in Africa. It has great cinematography. And plenty of action scenes. If you like movies about animal trappers, witch doctors and falling in love in the dark of Africa. You will want to see this one.

    Now this movie like so many of Robert Mitchum movies is not on DVD. It's a shame I know. But you should be able to see it on one of the old cable channels. This is another fine family movie you can watch with your kids. I remember seeing this one at a young age and loved it. And still do.
  • Routine film dealing with the Congo of 1907 before Belgium took over.

    The glamorous Susan Hayward comes there from America to be a nurse and help the missionary Dr. Mary. Problem is that Mary dies at Hayward's arrival time.

    Robert Mitchum is a zoo keeper who is in partnership with a sinister Walter Slezak. Slezak wants to go upstream and get the gold there from the natives. That's where Hayward wants to get to so you know where the film is heading.

    The film explores that Hayward is able to treat the chief's ailing son. Without joking, the chief looks like Spencer Willians (Andy Brown) of "Amos and Andy" fame on television.

    Nice scenery with a routine plot and subplot. You know where this one is heading to very quickly. Nonetheless, Hayward and Mitchum do well together.
  • I voted for the magnificent scenery, as the entire movie was filmed on location in Africa with Robert Mitchum and Susan Hayward. The film script was based on facts; witch doctors and leopard men are still functioning in various parts of Africa. According to some experts and anthropologists, the witch doctors in Kenya and Tanzania have a profound effect on locals and they can cast spells and even cause death to other people.

    This Superbly photographed film was directed by the veteran director Henry Hathaway. This is one of the last films by Susan Hayward before she died of cancer. Robert Mitchum shines as an animal trapper and hunter (better than his role in RAMPAGE). It is worth watching if it ever appear on DVD format.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ***SPOILERS*** The movie "White Witch Doctor" is more about greed and guilt and the strength in overcoming it then anything about modern or native medicine. Both big game hunter Lonni Douglas,Robert Mitchum, and nurse Ellen Burton, Susan Hayward, are in darkest Africa in the Belgian Congo for entirely different reasons then what they want you to believe in. Lonnie looking for gold in the dangerous Babuka country and Ellen in trying to make up for her husbands death that she feels responsible for. And in the end they both see the light in that doing the right thing, in unselfishly saving lives, is what it's really all about. That's after they almost end up losing their own!

    It's really Lonnie's partner Dutch businessman Huysman, Walter Slezak, who plays on his greed in taking Lonni into traveling into Babuba country to find gold thats their by the nugget full. Lonnie together with With Ellan travel deep into the Congo to help white woman doctor Mary, played by an either a dummy or corpse, called "Big Moma" by the grateful natives who's battling a major epidemic that's threatening to wipe out the entire native Congo population.

    What Lonni is really trying to do is use Ellen's work as cover to check out Babuba country to find where the gold is and get in touch with Huysman and his men to grab it, with deadly force if necessary, from the native tribesmen in the area! It's when Lonni sees what a great job Ellen is doing in saving the sick and dying natives that he turns away from his greed for gold and falls in love with Ellen that greatly outrages his partner Huysman. It's when Ellen is trying to save the Babuba King's, Everett Brown, young son Mekope, Oits Green, who was viciously mauled by a lion while, in order to prove that he's a man, trying to kill it single handedly that Huysman and his trope of gold diggers make their move.

    ***SPOILERS*** Taking Lonni, who tried to stop him, hostage Huysman threatened to murder him if he didn't tell him where the gold is buried: which in fact Lonni didn't know. It's then that Lonni's native guide Jacqus, Mashood Ajaia, set fire to Huysman's cache of both explosives and ammunition that had his gang of gold thieves running for their lives. It's also then that Lonni took on Huysman one on one with Huysman not Lonni being the one who first ran out of ammunition! Meanwhile back at the Babuba camp Ellen who was about to give up in saving Mekope's life, gangrene had already set in, saw that luck was on her side when the medication that she administrated to him miraculously borough the what looked like the dead man back to life!

    P.S "White Witch Doctor"turned out to be the last movie that actor Everette Brown was to make. Brown who was in such 1930's classics as "I Am a Fugative From a Chain Gang" "King Kong" and "Gone with the wind " died almost four months before "White Witch Doctor" was released on October 25,1953.
  • Man in gorilla suit, poisonous tarantula petulent lady55

    "White Witch Doctor" is a very poor film...which is rather confusing since it stars Robert Mitchum and Susan Hayward--two of Hollywood's hottest stars back in 1953. Yet despite their being in the movie, it's pretty cheesy stuff...and includes a guy in a gorilla costume as well as an attempted murder where the assassin uses a tarantula...a creature that is most certainly NOT deadly unless you happen to be a bug!

    The story is set in a highly romanticized Belgian Congo just after the turn of the 20th century. I say highly romanticized because the place was a hellish place, exploited horribly by the white folks. It was so bad that the book "Heart of Darkness" was set there and the death rate was astronomical. Yet, inexplicably, the film shows a very sanitized where the white folks are there for the most unselfish of reasons!

    Ellen (Hayward) is a doctor who has just arrived in the Belgian Congo. There to assist her is a hunter, Lonni Douglas (Mitchum). Immediately, Hayward's character becomes a caricature of a spunky lady--and she spends much of the film yelling and trying to prove to her assistant that she is as manly and competent as any man. This is clearly a tiresome plot that has been overused in films...especially when the character is so angry and insistent ALL THE TIME. And, true to the trope, they eventually fall in love...though frankly I wondered WHY...why would anyone fall for such a one-dimensional person.

    Does it get much better? Not really. The film, despite its setting, was made in Hollywood and it often shows. Overall, one of the worst films either actor made and it has an inexplicably high score of 6.1....don't you believe it! The movie is clearly a misfire.
  • Don't believe the publicity photos; even though Susan Hayward and Robert Mitchum starred in two romances together, there were no fond feelings off screen. The year after they starred in The Lusty Men and had a notoriously low opinion of one another, they reluctantly reunited for White Witch Doctor, a period piece about a missionary's work in Africa.

    Susan Hayward, a young widow, travels to the Congo, but Robert Mitchum, who has lived there for many years, warns her about the dangers of staying. It's the turn of the century, so women doctors are a novelty and not highly respected. The natives won't take to her, he claims, and the insects and animals can be deadly. But it's Susan Hayward-no warning will stop her! Bob escorts her to her assigned village because he and Walter Slezak believe they can find gold as a natural resource, and along the way, she's faced with many obstacles. Everything Bob warned her about is true, but Suzy is as strong as she always is and refuses to give up.

    It feels like most of the movie is spent observing native ceremonies, dances, rituals, and medical practices, but those scenes probably make up about one-third of the running time. The rest of the plot feels a little thin and improbable. Upon her arrival, Suzy claims she's studied dozens of native languages, but she isn't able to speak to anyone without an interpreter. Bob fights off an enraged gorilla, and after getting mauled by a ferocious lion, a young man is seen to only have a few scratches on his chest. But if you like movies like Mogambo, Untamed, or The African Queen, you'll be able to sit through this one. I love both the leads, so I found it entertaining, but it did feel a little long in the tooth after a while.
  • rick_730 August 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    This remarkably silly, hackneyed adventure movie takes hilarious liberties with its source material, an uplifting account of two nuns' mission to bring modern medicine to the Congo. By the time it reached the screen, it had Susan Hayward as a headstrong young nurse, and Bob Mitchum as a treasure-hunter escorting her through Bakuba country. The script is unbelievably clunky, with Mitchum having to translate all the Congolese dialects into English for Hayward! Haha, how rubbish! Fans of Walter Slezak won't be surprised to find him playing a slimy, greedy, reptilian, overweight villain, albeit this time in a safari suit.

    Hathaway mixes hard-won documentary-style footage with alarmingly transparent studio crap as Hayward wins over natives with her "big magic" (I'm going to ask my GP for some "big magic" the next time I see him) and Mitchum acts like an insensitive oaf over her dead husband, just because she won't immediately sleep with him. Needless to say, they can't recreate the magic of their only other teaming: the previous year's 'The Lusty Men'. In fact, this is more like a dry run for Hathaway's confusing, über-dreadful, greed-is-bad yawnfest 'Garden of Evil'. There's the odd concession to classy entertainment – a few spectacular location shots and a nice tour of a makeshift hospital, seen through a dozen veils – but that's about all. The set-up is laboured, the situations as artificial as the environment, the resolution laboured and rushed. The film's calling cards and its wildcards are wasted with startling profligacy. Cult character actor Timothy Carey has about a minute's screen-time. Even the mighty Mitchum is lacklustre, injecting just a few moments of the requisite cynicism before going back to counting the zeroes on his cheque. For Mitchum completists (like me) only.

    (1.5 out of 4)
  • As far as I know this has never been released on home video. Not surprising! The fake gorilla is a scream, and its not a comedy. Of course Mitchum completists must see this one. I saw it on the Fox movie channel. It is entertaining, just don't expect the caliber of say, Mogambo.
  • When I was about thirteen, I saw this movie and have never forgotten it, I enjoyed it that much. Romantic to a teenager. But I have been searching for about six years for a video of it without success. If anyone knows where a copy can be obtained let it be known. Thanks.