“I’ll do as you want me, Sandi, because I am your friend.”
Commissioner Sanders (Leslie Banks) tries to prevent warfare between rival chieftains (Paul Robeson and Tony Wane) in British-ruled Africa.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Native Peoples
- Paul Robeson Films
- Zoltan Korda Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this dated, offensive film “gives the impression that black Africans [were] prosperous, happy, and peaceful under British rule.” Commissioner Sanders (“Sandi”) is shamelessly portrayed as a heroic, benevolent father-figure who must intervene in order to save the warring African “children” from themselves. I was grateful whenever footage of native African tribes appeared on-screen; their (hopefully authentic) dancing and music making were a welcome relief from the colonialist blather of the storyline. Paul Robeson’s singing is (as always) a highlight, but nonetheless woefully out of place. Worth watching for historical purposes only.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Paul Robeson’s singing
- On-location footage of native African tribes
- Tony Wane’s unusual star-shaped hairdo
No, although it’s a revealing look at the historical distortion that was prevalent in so many early films.
One thought on “Sanders of the River (1935)”
First viewing. Not a must.
Not at all interesting as a narrative, the film is largely sloppy and pedestrian as it progresses in embarrassing fashion. And, gee, it’s a semi-‘musical’ to boot (?!). Robeson himself ultimately felt his involvement was the result of being duped. He disowned the film. Wikipedia briefly explains why: