Beyond Mombasa

BEYOND MOMBASA, not the more fitting ‘Beyond The Pale’, ventured into Kenya for this 1956 adventure, ensnaring a decent cast, a veteran director and an ace cameraman in another of the decade’s Mau Mau mellers, this time disguising the rebellion politics by having killings perpetrated by a cult of “leopard men“. That the murderous cat-dudes killed off the leading man’s brother, that the leading lady’s uncle reveals himself to be the loony tunes instigator, and that it all boils down to a uranium mine, are incidental to the usual perils from wild animals and a chance for the hero to ogle the heroine taking a bath and suavely make a pass with “You know, for a lady anthropologist you’re pretty well stacked.”

Cornel Wilde is the main bwana with a surly attitude, Donna Reed the stackee, Leo Genn the gone-native uncle, Ron Randell a dull business partner and Christopher Lee, a good guy for once, steals scenes as ‘Gil Rossi’, big-game hunter and goatee-sporter. George Marshall directed, with the great Freddie Young on camera, though they don’t get a lot from the available location scenery.

Donna smolders, baring shoulders—her husband Tony Owen was the producer. As the movie was wrapping, Owen confided that he’d produced six films and “all of them stink but they made money… But not the final one I made with my wife. In fact, this is the first one I’ve done that isn’t lousy – and I’m worried.” His worries were well-founded, as the wan gross of $1,200,000 put cast & crews due diligence slogging into 170th place for the year.

Written by Richard English and Gene Levitt, who give Genn, in the daffiest role of his otherwise sturdy-fellow career, a good morsel to issue in “It’s my burden to be sane in a demented age.

The hot number over the titles comes from trumpet player Eddie Calvert: it has little to do with anything African, but it’s a neat blast on its own. 90 minutes.

The producers gratefully acknowledge the cooperation extended to them by the authorities in British East Africa, especially the Coast Province of Kenya where most of the film was photographed. Thanks are due in particular to the warden of the fifteenth century ruined Arab city of Gedi.”

 

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