SANDERS OF THE RIVER(London Films, 1935)/Death Drums along the River (Big Ben Productions/Hallam, 1963)—Imperial adventure.
SANDERS OF THE RIVER Director: Zoltan Korda; Producer: Alexander Korda; Script: Lajos Biro and Jeffrey Dell, based on the novel Sanders of the River by Edgar Wallace; Cinematography: Louis Page, Osmond H. Borradaile, and Georges Perinal; Music: Mischa Spoliansky; Cast: Paul Robeson (Bosambo), Leslie Banks (Commissioner R. G. Sanders), Nina Mae McKinney (Lilongo), Robert Cochrane (Tibbets), Martin Walker (Ferguson), and Richard Grey (Captain Hamilton).
DEATH DRUMS ALONG THE RIVER Director: Lawrence Huntington; Producer: Peter Welbeck (Harry Alan Towers); Script: Kevin Kavanagh, Nicholas Roeg, Lawrence Huntington, and Harry Alan Towers, based on the novel Sanders of the River by Edgar Wallace; Cinematography: Bob Huke; Cast: Richard Todd (Inspector Harry Sanders), Marianne Koch (Dr. Inge Jung), Albert Lieven (Dr. Weiss), Walter Rilla (Dr. Schneider), Robert Arden (Hunter), Vivi Bach (Marlene), Bill Brewer (Pearson), Jeremy Lloyd (Hamilton).
The 1935 production of Edgar Wallace's novel was greeted at the time of its release as an effective endorsement of the British Empire in Africa and a celebration of the bravery and fortitude of those colonial administrators working in remote areas. Today, unless the film is carefully contextualized within the prevailing ethos at the time of its release, it is open to obvious charges of patronizing the Africans and elevating one culture, the British, above another. In this regard, the involvement of U.S. black singer and activist Paul Robeson, who is top billed in the film as Bosambo, is interesting as he was first attracted to the project after viewing documentary footage shot by Zoltan Korda in East and West Africa