King Solomon’s Mines (1937)

King Solomon’s Mines (1937)

“I don’t approve of anyone who tears up the face of the country for greed.”

In late 19th century South Africa, a diamond-seeking Irish lass (Anna Lee) and her father (Arthur Sinclair) convince a legendary hunter (Cedric Hardwicke) to allow them to travel with him to the coast. Along the way, they meet up with an African (Paul Robeson) and two of Hardwicke’s new clients (Roland Young and John Loder), all eventually heading off in search of King Solomon’s fabled mines.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Africa
  • Anna Lee Films
  • Explorers
  • Hidden Treasure
  • Paul Robeson Films
  • Roland Young Films

This first adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s 1885 novel — generally considered the most faithful to its source material — features a refreshingly gutsy female protagonist (Lee is notably plucky) and a respectful role for Robeson at a time when such opportunities for black actors were severely limited. The tale is pure colonialist drama, with the mostly-white protagonists hoping to take advantage of the resources safeguarded by “primitive” African natives — but it’s all told in an engaging fashion, with plenty of narrative tension, excellent on-location footage, and exciting sequences. It’s not must-see viewing, but it’s worth a look.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Anna Lee as Kathy O’Brien
  • Paul Robeson as Umbopa
  • Fine cinematography
  • Nice use of on-location shooting in Africa

Must See?
No, but I do think it’s worth a one-time look.


One thought on “King Solomon’s Mines (1937)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see.

    ~ though it’s not a bad film overall, and will likely be of interest to those with a taste for this kind of old-fashioned adventure tale. The penultimate sequence is certainly a highlight.

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