King Solomon’s Mines

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Elizabeth Curtis (Deborah Kerr) was a beautiful woman, a prim and proper lady who is married with a life most women dream of. But that was then and while she is still beautiful and married, her life has taken some turns that she wishes could be reversed. Her husband went on a quest to uncover the diamonds from King Solomon’s legendary mines, an adventure as bold as it is dangerous. A lot of men have gone into the remote area to find the immense diamond cache, but none have ever returned, let alone succeeded. The fate of her husband is unknown, but he hasn’t been seen or heard from since he landed in the area, so of course, she is worried he has suffered the same tragic fate as the explorers before him. In an effort to find her husband or at least get some closure, she seeks to hire someone to traverse the wilds. She soon learns that the best hunter around is Allan Quartermain (Stewart Granger), a brave adventurer who is somewhat of a legend in his field. The trek will be dangerous, as no one has returned from the uncharted regions they must pass through, but if a man alive can tame these wild lands, it would be Quartermain. At first, he refuses to accept the assignment, after all, he said, women didn’t belong on a safari or out in the wild at all. The journey would be perilous enough for him, but if he had to watch over her as well, that only adds more potential for disaster. But when she offered twenty times his normal fee, he finds a way to agree and the two venture off into the savage wild. Will the two be able to survive the wilds and find her husband, or will they discover something else in the outlands?

In recent years, the adventure picture has been a rare find, as instead, filmmakers turn to loud, over the top action movies. Indiana Jones seemed to revive interest in the adventure genre, but the flame was snuffed out in between volumes of that series. But there was a time when adventure was a star attraction, epics with lush on location shoots, romances in the heat of danger, and of course, a hero who could always do just the right thing when it counted. King Solomon’s Mines is a famous adventure novel and one that has been popular with those in the movie business, with several cinema adaptations. This 1950 version is a fun ride, but I have to admit, I think the 1937 version stands as the best of the lot. In any event, the reason for such attention to the story is obvious, as the novel has the elements needed in a top shelf adventure epic. The hero is Allan Quartermain, kind of an Indiana Jones before Harrison Ford was even born. He is the foundation, our guide through close calls, savage natives, and of course, brief moments of romance. This take on King Solomon’s Mines has some superb visuals, thanks to a production that filmed “in the wilds of Africa,” a decision that yields beautiful sceneries and of course, a realistic atmosphere. The film has a few scenes that are a wonder to behold, the highlight of which is a stampede sequence that has to be seen to be believed. I had a lot of fun revisiting this movie and while Warner’s disc is basic, the transfer is solid enough. So if you’re in the mood for high adventure, then King Solomon’s Mines is a great choice.

Video: How does it look?

King Solomon’s Mines is presented in full frame, as intended. This is a nice visual treatment, one that has some flaws, but looks much better than previous release. The laserdisc was solid, but this new presentation offers a sharper, more refined visual presence that should delight fans. The print has minimal defects, with only a few medium flaws to mention and some light grain throughout the picture. These issues never prove to be much of a distraction however, so I see no reason to be concerned. The colors have worn a little, but still look bright and vivid, with accurate flesh tones at all times. No troubles in terms of contrast, as black levels are consistent, though not as deep and rich as I would like. A full scale restoration would have been nice, but even as it stands, this movie looks terrific.

Audio: How does it sound?

On this front, the disc includes a mono option and while it isn’t too dynamic, it covers the basics and then some. The track seems very clean and shows minimal age signs, which was a very pleasant surprise, as I expected some wear to be present. The music and sound effects come across well here, despite the limitations of the mono form here. Of course, the elements don’t explode from the speakers, but as far as mono goes, this option is more than adequate in the end. The vocals are crisper than expected and no volume issues arise, which leaves us to give this soundtrack a passing grade. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer

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