Location scout helped Hollywood films in Africa
Eva Monley, a location scout, assistant director, production manager and, later, producer who brought her expertise on Africa to many films and worked with the likes of John Huston, John Ford, Otto Preminger, David Lean and Steven Spielberg, died at her home in Nanyuki, Kenya, on Nov. 12. She was 88.
The Berlin-born Monley escaped from Nazi Germany with her mother, landing at a farm in Kenya; over time she developed a detailed knowledge of the country and became fluent in Swahili. While working as a secretary in Nairobi, she picked up her first film job, as an assistant and script supervisor on 1950’s “King Solomon’s Mines,” shot in Africa in the Belgian Congo, Kenya and Tanzania. After following that assignment with similar work on Huston’s “The African Queen,” she was soon frequently employed by American and British film producers shooting in Africa, including Hemingway adaptation “The Snows of Kiliminjaro”; “White Witch Doctor,” with Robert Mitchum and Susan Hayward; and John Ford’s “Mogambo.”
Monley also worked on films lensed outside Africa, such as 1955 Lana Turner-Richard Burton starrer “The Rains of Ranchipur” and George Cukor’s 1956 “Bhowani Junction,” both lensed in India, and on 1957 Hemingway adaptation “A Farewell to Arms,” shot in Italy.
She began a five-film association with director Preminger on 1960’s “Exodus,” on which she was production manager. (She also worked as production manger on the director’s “The Cardinal,” “In Harm’s Way,” “Bunny Lake Is Missing” and “Hurry Sundown.”)
Monley spent two years working as a location manager on Lean’s epic “Lawrence of Arabia.”
Later in her career Monley was associate producer on a number of films, starting with “The Pack” in 1977 and continuing with Gil Cates’ “The Promise,” John Irvin’s “Champions” in 1984, franchise starter “Highlander” and Bruce Beresford’s 1990 “Mr. Johnson,” shot in Nigeria. In 1993 she brought to the screen “A Far Off Place,” based on the book by South African writer Laurens van der Post, a close friend. Reese Witherspoon in the Monley-produced film.
Among her other credits are Don Siegel’s “Black Windmill,” Sydney Pollack’s “Out of Africa,” Huston’s “The Man Who Would Be King,” Ken Russell’s “Billion Dollar Brain” and Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun.”
Monley’s papers were donated to the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and she received a lifetime achievement award from the British Film Institute.