King Solomon's Mines (1950 film)

King Solomon's Mines is a 1950 Technicolor adventure film, the second of five film adaptations of the 1885 novel of the same name by Henry Rider Haggard. It stars Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger and Richard Carlson. It was adapted by Helen Deutsch, directed by Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

King Solomon's Mines
Promotional film poster
Directed by
Produced bySam Zimbalist
Screenplay byHelen Deutsch
Based onKing Solomon's Mines
by H. Rider Haggard
Music byMischa Spoliansky
CinematographyRobert Surtees
Edited by
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • November 9, 1950 (1950-11-09) (New York City)
  • November 24, 1950 (1950-11-24) (US)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.3 million[2]
Box office$15.1 million[3]


Allan Quatermain (Stewart Granger), an experienced hunter and guide, reluctantly agrees to help Elizabeth Curtis (Deborah Kerr) and her brother John Goode (Richard Carlson) search for her husband, who disappeared in the unexplored African interior while searching for the legendary titular mines. They have a copy of the map he used. A tall, mysterious native, Umbopa (Siriaque), joins the safari. Allan has no use for women on a safari, but during the long and grueling journey, he and Elizabeth begin to fall in love.

The party encounters Van Brun (Hugo Haas), a lone white man living with a tribe. They learn that he met Curtis. However, when Allan recognizes him as a fugitive who cannot afford to let them go, they take him hostage to leave the village safely. Van Brun tries to shoot Allan, killing his faithful right-hand man Khiva (Kimursi), instead. Allan dispatches Van Brun and the party flees from the angry villagers.

When they finally reach the region where the mines are supposed to be, they are met by people who resemble Umbopa. They discover that their companion is royalty; he has returned to attempt to dethrone the evil King Twala (Baziga). Umbopa leaves with his supporters, while Allan, Elizabeth and John travel to a tense meeting with Twala. With his last rifle bullet, John kills a would-be attacker, temporarily quelling the natives.

The king's advisor, Gagool (Sekaryongo), communicates that they have seen Curtis and leads them to a cave that contains a trove of jewels and in which they find the skeletal remains of Elizabeth's husband. While they are distracted by this discovery, Gagool sneaks away and triggers a booby trap that seals them inside the cave. Leaving the jewels behind, they find a way out through an underground stream and return to the settlement, just as Umbopa and his followers arrive.

Umbopa's people have an unusual method of deciding the kingship. The two claimants duel to the death. Despite cheating by one of Twala's men, Umbopa wins. Afterwards, he provides an escort for his friends' return trip.


  • Deborah Kerr as Elizabeth Curtis
  • Stewart Granger as Allan Quatermain
  • Richard Carlson as John Goode
  • Hugo Haas as Van Brun a.k.a. Smith
  • Lowell Gilmore as Eric Masters, District Commissioner
  • Kimursi as Khiva, Chief Bearer in Red Fez (credited as Kimursi of the Kipsigi Tribe)
  • Siriaque as Umbopa, Tall Prince-in-Exile
  • Sekaryongo as Chief Gagool, Witch-like Guide to Diamond Mines
  • Baziga as King Twala, Usurper (credited as Baziga of the Watussi Tribe)


In November 1946 MGM announced they had purchased film rights to the novel from Gaumot British, who made the 1937. Sam Zimbalist was assigned the job of producing.[4]

In October 1948 Helen Deutsch was assigned to write the script.[5]

MGM typically made one or two big "overseas" spectacles a year around this time. When Quo Vadis was postponed, it was decided to film King Solomon's Mines on location in Africa.[6] Production equipment was trucked in, with a total travel distance of over 70,000 miles (110,000 km), using a convoy of Dodge trucks.[7]


Like virtually all film versions, this also changes Haggard's plot to include a female lead. But it strays even further from the novel than the 1937 British adaptation King Solomon's Mines. There are several African characters in the book, particularly Umbopa, a king in disguise. In the earlier film, Paul Robeson received top billing for the role, whereas in this version, Umbopa's importance is greatly reduced.


Deborah Kerr was announced as the female lead in July 1949.[8] MGM wanted Errol Flynn to co star.[9] The same month Compton Bennett was signed to direct; he had just finished That Forstyh Woman for MGM with Flynn.[10]

Flynn eventually chose instead to star in Kim. Stewart Granger was signed instead in August 1949.[11][12][13] Richard Carlson was cast in September.[14]


Filming took place at the following locations in Africa: Murchison Falls in Uganda; Astrida, "the land of giant Watusis"; Volcano Country and Stanleyville in the Belgian Congo; Tanganyika; and Rumuruti and Machakos in Kenya.[15][16][17]

The film marked the beginning of Eva Monley's career as a Hollywood location scout and producer, specializing in Africa.[16] Monley received her first film job as a script supervisor and assistant during production of King Solomon's Mines.[16] Additionally, the cave scene was filmed in the Slaughter Canyon Cave in Carlsbad Caverns National Park and other scenes at nearby Sitting Bull Falls in Lincoln National Forest, both in New Mexico, United States.

In February 1950, after five months of location filming in Africa, Andrew Marton replaced Compton Bennett as director. The official reason given was Bennett fell ill but there were rumours that Bennett had a falling out with some of the cast.[18]


Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote that "there is more than a trace of outright hokum in this thriller ... but there is also an ample abundance of scenic novelty and beauty to compensate."[19] Variety called it a "striking adventure film" with "high excitement in meetings with wild savages and beasts and a number of excellently staged fights-to-the-death."[20] Harrison's Reports called it "a highly spectacular romantic adventure melodrama that has the rare quality of holding an audience captivated from start to finish."[21] John McCarten of The New Yorker wrote, "'King Solomon's Mines' undertakes to show what a safari through Africa might have been up against fifty years ago. In this, I think, the picture, which was shot in the African highlands, succeeds admirably."[22] The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "a somewhat stilted epic, strangely lacking in excitement," with Kerr seeming "miscast and out of place."[23]

The film was the third most popular film at the British box office in 1951.[24] It was also a big hit in France, with admissions of 4,108,770.[25]

According to MGM records, the film earned $5,047,000 in the US and Canada. It made $4,908,000 elsewhere. After production and other associate costs were deducted, the movie made a profit of $4,049,000, making it easily MGM's most successful film of 1950.[2]

Awards and nominations

Robert L. Surtees won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color, while Ralph E. Winters and Conrad A. Nervig won for Best Film Editing. The film was nominated for Best Picture.

Other film versions

Other films based on H. Rider Haggard's novel include:

Radio adaptation

King Solomon's Mines was presented on Lux Radio Theatre on December 1, 1952. The one-hour adaptation featured Kerr and Granger in their screen roles.[26]


  1. "Of Local Origin". The New York Times: 43. November 9, 1950.
  2. 'The Eddie Mannix Ledger', Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study, Los Angeles
  3. "King Solomon's Mines (1950)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  4. METRO SIGNS GABLE TO NEW CONTRACT: Actor Agrees to Take Lead in 'Hucksters,' With Deborah Kerr, English Player Of Local Origin New York Times 4 Nov 1946: 42.
  5. METRO IS PLANNING MUSICAL OF OLD HIT: New York Times 20 Oct 1948: 37.
  6. T. F. (August 7, 1949). "Video Problem". The New York Times. ProQuest 105748035. (subscription required)
  7. Loew's (1950). Jungle Safari.
  8. Thomas F Brady (July 23, 1949). "Deborah Kerr Gets Metro Movie Lead". The New York Times. ProQuest 105803181. (subscription required)
  9. Hedda Hopper (July 23, 1949). Los Angeles Times Missing or empty |title= (help) (subscription required)
  10. Walt Disney to Speed 'Cinderella'; Gary Cooper Will Narrate Scenic Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]25 July 1949: A7.
  11. Thomas F Brady (August 3, 1949). "Stewart Granger Signs With Metro". The New York Times. ProQuest 105767934. (subscription required)
  12. T. F. (August 7, 1949). "Video Problem". ProQuest 105748035. (subscription required)
  13. P. K. Scheuer (October 2, 1949). "Role In Movie To Take British Star 42,600 MILES". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 165994963. (subscription required)
  14. CARLSON IS SIGNED FOR LEAD AT METRO: Will Appear With Granger and Kerr in 'King Solomon's Mines,' to Be Done in Africa By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]07 Sep 1949: 39.
  15. "King Solomon's Mines (1950): Notes". Turner Classic Movies.
  16. "Eva Monley dies at 88". Variety. November 21, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
  17. Letter From Hollywood By Frank Daugherty Special to The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file); Boston, Mass. [Boston, Mass]01 Sep 1950: 5.
  18. HOLLYWOOD WIRE: GUN MOLL Leading Sweet Altered All-Time Bests Switch New Unit. By THOMAS F. BRADY. New York Times 26 Feb 1950: X5.
  19. Bosley Crowther (November 10, 1950). "The Screen". The New York Times. p. 43.
  20. "King Solomon's Mines". The New York Times. September 27, 1950. p. 8.
  21. "'King Solomon's Mines' with Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger". The New York Times. September 30, 1950. p. 43.
  22. John McCarten (November 11, 1950). "The Current Screen". The New York Times. p. 155.
  23. "King Solomon's Mines". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 18 (204): 204. January 1951.
  24. "Vivien Leigh Actress of the Year". Townsville Daily Bulletin. Qld.: National Library of Australia. December 29, 1951. p. 1. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  25. Box office information for Stewart Granger films in France at Box Office Story
  26. Kirby, Walter (November 30, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved June 14, 2015 via
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