Saturday 29 June 2024

Movie Review: Beyond Mombasa (1956)

Genre: Adventure  
Director: George Marshall  
Starring: Cornel Wilde, Donna Reed, Christopher Lee  
Running Time: 90 minutes  

Synopsis: Matt Campbell (Cornel Wilde) arrives in Kenya at the invitation of his brother George, only to learn from missionary Hoyt (Leo Genn) that George has just been murdered by tribals known as Leopard Men. Matt becomes romantically interested in Hoyt's niece Ann Wilson (Donna Reed), and meets George's business associates Rossi (Christopher Lee) and Hastings (Ron Randell). They travel into the dangerous jungle to search for a mine that George had uncovered, and Matt starts to suspect that his brother was betrayed in a business dispute.

What Works Well: The first 30 minutes of this B-movie provide a decent sweaty foundation for an adventure mystery drama. Director George Marshall leverages the on-location scenery to efficiently introduce the characters involved in murder and intrigue, with Donna Reed stylishly overdressed for every occasion but game for a spiky romance with Cornel Wilde.

What Does Not Work As Well: Once the adventure moves into the jungle it degenerates into a repetitive trudge, with stock safari footage (a Noah's arc procession of elephants, crocodiles, giraffes, and rhinoceroses) badly spliced into the action. The flimsy content becomes more apparent with an interminable interlude of tribal dancing. The villain is easy to spot, and the climactic showdown featuring enraged locals borders on ridiculous.

Conclusion: Never mind the beasts, the real jungle hazards include simplistic plot points, macho posturing, and superficial acting.

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