Review: ‘Sanders of the River’

Story of an African colony [Nigeria] is an immense production, done for the greater part with deft direction, played with distinction by two main characters. Leslie Banks and Paul Robeson carry the greater part of this tale of a British commissioner who rules an African sector through commanding both fear and respect.

Story of an African colony [Nigeria] is an immense production, done for the greater part with deft direction, played with distinction by two main characters. Leslie Banks and Paul Robeson carry the greater part of this tale of a British commissioner who rules an African sector through commanding both fear and respect.

The story [from the novel by Edgar Wallace] is simple. Sanders (Banks) is in charge of a large section in the British African possessions. He makes a minor chief of Bosambo (Robeson), an engaging fugitive from prison, revealing the excellence of his judgment of men. Mofolabo, known as ‘the old king’, is in an inaccessible section of the district and gives much trouble. When Sanders goes out on leave to get married, rum runners send word through the district that Sanders is dead, inciting the king to fresh depredations. But Sanders has gone only as far as the coast when he hears of the trouble, and comes back.

There are some nicely staged mob scenes, mostly ceremonials, with a remarkable male muscle dancer and a small regiment of natives who appear to be genuine. Robeson gets two of the songs [lyrics by Arthur Wimperis], with the third going to Nina Mae McKinney, a lullaby set against a humming harmonic background.

Sanders of the River

UK

Production

London. Director Zoltan Korda; Producer Alexander Korda; Screenplay Lajos Biro, Jeffrey Dell; Camera Georges Perinal, Osmond Borrodaile, Louis Page; Editor William Hornbeck, Charles Crichton; Music Mischa Spoliansky; Art Director [Vincent Korda]

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1935. Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Paul Robeson Leslie Banks Nina Mae McKinney Robert Cochrane Martin Walker Richard Grey
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