Mister Moses

Mister Moses is a 1965 American adventure film about a con man blackmailed into persuading an entire African village into relocating for their own safety. It was directed by Ronald Neame and stars Robert Mitchum and Carroll Baker. The film was based on the novel of the same name by Max Catto. It was filmed on location in Kenya, at Lake Naivasha and the Amboseli National Park.[2]

Mister Moses
Original film poster
Directed byRonald Neame
Produced byFrank Ross
Written byCharles Beaumont
Monja Danischewsky
Based onMister Moses
by Max Catto
StarringRobert Mitchum
Carroll Baker
Music byJohn Barry
CinematographyOswald Morris
Edited byPhilip W. Anderson
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • May 12, 1965 (1965-05-12)
Running time
113 minutes (US)
117 minutes (UK)
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,250,000[1]


Beaten and expelled by African villagers for trying to cheat them, the unconscious Joe Moses drifts down a river, where he is discovered by the natives of another village. This tribe is being pressured to move by the District Officer (Ian Bannen), as their land will be flooded by the release of waters from a dam; but they refuse to leave their homes. Deeply Christian, the villagers compare Joe Moses to the real Moses due to his discovery in the reeds as was the baby Moses. With a broken leg and no money, Joe Moses is trapped in the village.

Nursed to health by missionary Rev. Anderson (Alexander Knox) and his daughter Julie (Carrol Baker), Moses impresses the natives with his medicine show. He further astounds the locals when he discovers Emily, that he recognizes as an Indian elephant, in the village. Moses gets her to respond to commands in Hindustani, a language he acquired through his army service in the China Burma India theatre.

The Chief (Orlando Martins) agrees to allow his people to move, but only if they are led by Moses. Reverend Anderson and Julie blackmail Moses through their knowledge of his diamond smuggling in order to lead the people to the "Promised Land". Seeing through Moses's confidence tricks is an educated African, Ubi (Raymond St. Jacques). Ubi initially wishes to team up with Moses to con other Africans, but then attempts to steal Moses's show with a concealed flame thrower that has unexpectedly disastrous consequences for Ubi.

Leading the villagers from atop his elephant, Moses takes them on a journey that has many parallels with the Biblical trek, including a bit where he has to part the waters by entering the dam.



Max Catto's novel was published in 1961. Film rights were purchased that year by Frank Ross for $310,000. Ross announced he would make it for United Artists at a budget of $6.5 million. It was the seventh time Catto had sold a novel to the movies.[3]


The New York Times reviewer A. H. Weiler was unimpressed, writing that it "strains credibility and rarely excites a viewer."[4]

See also


  1. Anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Top Grossers of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p. 36
  2. "Mister Moses". Variety. Retrieved February 6, 2010.
  3. Scott, John (23 Apr 1961). "Hollywood Calendar". Los Angeles Times. p. l9.
  4. A. H. Weiler (May 13, 1965). "Mister Moses (1965)". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2010.
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