Review: ‘Trader Horn’

A good-looking animal picture. The story doesn't mean anything other than a connecting link for a series of sequences which, at one point, become nothing more than an out-and-out lecture tour, as various herds of animals are described by the voice of Harry Carey, in the title role. Studio has simply interpreted the original novel [by Aloysius Horn and Ethelreda Lewis] as it saw fit, lifting a couple of characters therefrom and putting them through a succession of narrow escapes from four-footed enemies and a cannibal tribe.

A good-looking animal picture. The story doesn’t mean anything other than a connecting link for a series of sequences which, at one point, become nothing more than an out-and-out lecture tour, as various herds of animals are described by the voice of Harry Carey, in the title role. Studio has simply interpreted the original novel [by Aloysius Horn and Ethelreda Lewis] as it saw fit, lifting a couple of characters therefrom and putting them through a succession of narrow escapes from four-footed enemies and a cannibal tribe.

Light love vein is introduced between Carey’s young companion, Duncan Renaldo, and Edwina Booth as the queen of a tribe from whom she and the men escape when her followers turn on her after she countermands an order of death by torture for Carey, Renaldo and Rencharo, the former’s native gun boy.

Booth, very easy to look at, prances through the jungle in scanty raiment, knowing only the gutteral language of the blacks. The escape of the quartet immediately goes into a chase, during which Carey doubles back to act as decoy so the boy and girl can get away. Finish is the successful reaching of a river settlement where the youth and former tribal queen board a small river steamer bound for civilization, while Carey, as Trader Horn, prepares to go back into the jungle.

Sound effects are outstanding. Andy Anderson, the sound man, accompanied director W.S. Van Dyke’s unit to Africa. The camera work is also swell marksmanship.

1930/31: Nomination: Best Picture

Trader Horn

Production

M-G-M. Director W.S. Van Dyke; Screenplay Richard Schayer, Cyril Hume, Dale Van Every, J.T. Neville; Camera Clyde De Vinna; Editor Ben Lewis; Music Charles Maxwell

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1931. Running time: 123 MIN.

With

Harry Carey Edwina Booth Duncan Renaldo Mutia Omoolu Olive Golden C. Aubrey Smith
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