Men of Two Worlds

Men of Two Worlds is a 1946 British Technicolor drama film directed by Thorold Dickinson and starring Robert Adams, Eric Portman and Phyllis Calvert. The screenplay concerns an African music student who returns home to battle a witch doctor for control over his tribe.[4]

Men of Two Worlds
Directed byThorold Dickinson
Produced byJohn Sutro
Written byThorold Dickinson
Herbert W. Victor
Based onstory by Joyce Carey
StarringEric Portman
Phyllis Calvert
Distributed byRank (UK)
International Releasing Organization (US)
Release date
9 September 1946 (UK)
1952 (USA)
CountryUnited Kingdom

The film was released in the US as Kisenga, Man of Africa.


Kisenga, is a composer and pianist from Marashi in Tanganyika who has spent fifteen years in London. He decides to return to his homeland to help the District Commissioner, Randall, in the work of health care.

Randall explains that an outbreak of sleeping sickness caused by the tsetse fly is moving across Tanganyika and has almost reached Marashi. He wants to transfer the population of 25,000 to a new settlement on higher ground and set fire to the bush to destroy the tsetse fly. Randall is helped by Dr Munro.

Kisenga arrives at Marashi. His sister Saburi is engaged to a young man named Ali, an assistant at the dispensary. Kisenga meets the Chief Rafuf, who is under the control of Margoli, a witchdoctor. Rafuf does not want to move.

Kisenga decides to settle in his old home and teaches music. The tsetse fly gets closer to the village and Doctor Burton wants to do blood tests on villagers, which are opposed by Margoli.

Margoli fights the doctors and Kinsenga's father dies of malarie. Margoli casts spells against Kisenga. He falls ill but recovers when the children perform Kisenga's music. The clearing of the village begins and the people leave for their new settlement.



The film was written by Joyce Carey who had worked in Africa as a civil servant

Esther Makumbi was the one lead actor from Africa – the rest were based in Britain.[5][6]

Filming began in 1943, with eight months shooting in Tanganyika. A U-boat sank cameras and stock on the way out. Cameras were impounded and shooting was held up with slow convoys, bad weather, a strike of lab men in Hollywood and difficulties involved in shooting in Technicolor.[7]

Filming in Tanganyika cost an estimated ₤600,000. The film had to be re-done in England.[2] The replica of the Concert Hal built at Denham Studios was one of the largest sets ever built in England.[8]

Thorold Dickinson said "Our picture categorically insists that witchcraft does exist; that it is suggestion, supported by all the trappings of religion, and can only be defeated by counter-suggestion.It's a struggle of mind against mind. There is a terrific blood motive running through the story. Blood drips in color. The East Africans believe that blood is the life. Blood gives power. This primitive thing – this bloodlust – is really pure fascism and has got to be killed."[5]

Filming in England started in January 1945.

The movie was part of a series of movies which cost ₤3 million, aimed at beating Hollywood head on. The others were London Town (₤700,000), Henry V (₤450,000) and Caesar and Cleopatra (₤1,300,000).[9]


The film had its world premiere at Avalon Cinema in Dar es Salaam on 16 July 1946. It then had its London premiere in front of the King and Queen.[10]

According to trade papers, the film was a "notable box office attraction" at British cinemas.[11]

It was the 17th most popular film at the British box office in 1946 after The Wicked Lady, The Bells of St. Mary's, Piccadilly Incident, The Captive Heart, Road to Utopia, Caravan, Anchors Away, The Corn is Green, Gilda, The House on 92nd Street, The Overlanders, Appointment with Crime, The Bandit of Sherwood Forest, Kitty, Spellbound, and Scarlet Street.[12]

The film had trouble being seen in the US due to censor concerns over its depiction of black people.[13] It was not released in the US until 1952.

BFI Screenonline later said the film was "a creditable effort to tell an African story from the point of view of an African. The story only makes sense if we identify with Kisenga's dilemmas. Only he can resolve a situation in which the African and the European world views are at loggerheads, and he is prepared to give up his life in the struggle. The film gives us unusually authentic-seeming pictures of village life and ritual, and invests the people with a certain dignity and sensibility, even if ultimately they prefer superstition and fear to science. The photography is slow-moving and beautifully composed; African faces appear on screen distinct with emotion and individuality."[14]

Dickinson and Carey travelled to India in January 1946 to research a film to be made there.[15]


  1. Clare, J. (1947, Feb 15). New super-films cost too much. Times Pictorial, Retrieved from
  2. "Noteworthy Films Made In U.K." The West Australian. Perth. 17 January 1953. p. 27. Retrieved 4 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  3. Geoffrey Macnab, J. Arthur Rank and the British Film Industry, London, Routledge (1993) p191
  4. "Men of Two Worlds (1946)".
  5. C.A. LEJEUNE LONDON, Nov. 1 (By Mail). (19 November 1944). "QUIET FILM DAYS IN LONDON". New York Times. ProQuest 106995029.
  6. "East African pin-up girl goes western". The Sun (2213). Sydney. 9 September 1945. p. 3. Retrieved 9 August 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  7. "Men of Two Worlds". Variety. 24 July 1946. p. 14.
  8. "Studio Gossip About Films And Actors". The Mercury. CLXII (23, 404). Tasmania. 8 December 1945. p. 9. Retrieved 9 August 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "BRITAIN REVISITED—XII. ENGLISH FILMES ARE ACTIVE". The Argus (30, 911). Melbourne. 25 September 1945. p. 2. Retrieved 9 August 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  10. "CENTRAL AFRICA HAS FIRST FILM PREMIERE". New York Times. 17 July 1946. ProQuest 107708906.
  11. Robert Murphy, Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939–48 2003 p209, via Google Books
  12. "Hollywood Sneaks In 15 Films on '25 Best' List of Arty Britain". The Washington Post. 15 January 1947. p. 2.
  13. "New York Diary". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 13 December 1946. p. 12. Retrieved 9 August 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  14. Men of Two Worlds at BFI Screenonline
  15. OUR, S. C. (1946, Feb 12). British film team surveys india. The Times of India. Retrieved from
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