Sunday, August 28, 2016

1939 - STANLEY AND LIVINGSTONE, a true story made up of fiction

We're in Africa with Spencer Tracey as explorer Henry Stanley and his faithful companion Jeff played by a really out of place actor Walter Brennan who should be hanging around with John
Wayne instead of Tracy.  The two of them are searching for Dr David Livingstone who the world assumes has died somewhere in darkest Africa.

After a lot of adventures involving the native population chasing Stanley and his safari around.  Henry Stanley does indeed run into Livingstone in the middle of nowhere.  You would think this would be the end of the film, but no.  When Stanley returns to England it seems no one will believe him.  This plot development takes up the rest of the film.

Since this is one of Daryl F Zanuck's personal projects. The production values are at a very high standard.  Zanuck also assigned the direction to one of his best directors Henry King.  The film is very watchable.  Zanuck even sent a 2nd unit crew to Africa to catch lots of background footage for authenticity.  The problem with this film is that it is almost entirely false.

A couple of minutes on the Wikipedia page for Henry Stanley is quite a different story, Stanley was an exploiter of the African continent for the Belgium government, a racist and probably a murderer.  This was not the true story that would have played well the movie going audiences at this time.  The best thing to be said about this film is that the cast is interesting.

101 minutes.

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