West of Zanzibar (1954)

Approved   |    |  Adventure, Drama

West of Zanzibar (1954) Poster

The story of native tribesmen who move towards Mombasa, getting drawn info the world of ivory smuggling.



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19 April 2019 | boblipton
| Moving Past Trader Horn
A tribe in East Africa has moved from their old areas, which has dried up and is no longer suitable for farming, down to the lowlands near Mombasa. Some of the young men finding that killing elephants illegally and selling their ivory is a way to get ahead in rapidly changing East Africa. Anthony Steele, on official leave from his job working with the natives, tries to track down those who really profit from the trade, with the reluctant urging of his wife, Sheila Sim.

It's a late colonial era view of East Africa, amidst which is set one of those tracking-down-the-smugglers stories that was a fixture of British crime drama. However, this Ealing production has moved on a bit from TRADER HORN, and the natives are human, particularly Edric Connor as the chief, and so is the villain of the piece -- Martin Benson, playing a native lawyer, a graduate of the Sorbonne, who lectures Steele on England's industrial revolution and angrily congratulates him on his naive good will.

This being a movie set in Africa, the movie can shift at any moment from an indoor courtroom to documentary footage, showing the most dangerous animals in Africa -- hippopotami -- or the markets of Zanzibar, wart hogs and elephants at a watering hole, native fishermen using suckerfish to catch sea turtles, or a native fishing festival. The director is Harry Watt, whose filmography indicates he was happier filming documentaries than story films.

Still, it's a well-told if typical story, set in an exotic location, and if its attitudes are not those we espouse today, there are some bright moments that survive well.

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