Original movie poster
|Directed by||John Ford|
|Produced by||Sam Zimbalist|
|Written by||Wilson Collison(play) |
John Lee Mahin (screenplay)
|Starring||Clark Gable |
|Music by||Robert Burns|
|Cinematography||Robert Surtees |
|Editing by||Frank Clarke|
|Release date(s)||October 9, 1953|
|Running time||115 minutes|
|Box office||$5.2 million (US)|
Mogambo is a 1953 film directed by John Ford and starring Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly, and featuring Donald Sinden. The film was adapted by John Lee Mahin from the play by Wilson Collison.
Kelly won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress (1954), and the film was nominated for two Oscars, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Gardner), and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Kelly). The film was also nominated for a BAFTA Film Award (Best Film from any Source USA).
Mogambo is a lavish remake of the classic film Red Dust (1932) set in French Indochina but in the 1950s was the scene of the First Indochina War. The earlier movie also featured Clark Gable in the lead role.
Producer Sam Zimbalist thought of the title by modifying the name of the Mocambo night club. Interiors were filmed in London. Exteriors were filmed in Tanganyika, Kenya, Uganda and French Equatorial Africa from October 1952–February 1953.
Eloise Y. "Honey Bear" Kelly (Ava Gardner) arrives at a remote African outpost, looking for a rich maharajah acquaintance, only to find he has canceled his trip owing to unrest in his realm. While waiting for the next river boat out, she spars with hardworking big game hunter Victor Marswell (Clark Gable), who (initially) pegs her as a certain disreputable type. When the river boat returns, it brings Donald Nordley (Donald Sinden) and his wife Linda (Grace Kelly). The Nordleys wish to go on safari to film gorillas. Marswell declines to guide them. Kelly rejoins the group after the steamer runs aground. Tensions run high between the two women when Linda is also attracted to Marswell.
Marswell agrees to take the Nordleys into gorilla country, taking Kelly halfway to join the District Commissioner, who can then escort her back to civilization. However, they find the commissioner badly wounded by recently belligerent natives. With reinforcements days away, the small party narrowly escapes, taking the mortally wounded commissioner with them.
Meanwhile, a serious romance is developing between Marswell and Linda. Only Donald is blind to the situation. Marswell plans to warn the husband, but then has second thoughts after realizing how much Donald loves her and perhaps how she would be better off with Donald remaining as her husband.
Marswell becomes depressed and begins drinking heavily in his tent. Kelly joins him, and one thing leads to another. When Linda appears, she finds them cuddling. Marswell decides that he can fix this mess by making Linda hate him and makes a show of the this cuddling followed by dismissive remarks about Linda's infatuation with "the White Hunter" to enrage her; she shoots him with his own pistol, wounding him in the arm. Kelly lies to the others, telling them that Marswell had been making advances to Linda for some time, finally forcing her to shoot him in his drunken state.
The next day, the party breaks camp, leaving Marswell behind to try to capture some young gorillas to pay for the safari. Marswell, acknowledging to himself his feelings for Kelly, proposes to her, but she rebuffs him. As a canoe takes her downriver, she suddenly jumps into the water and makes her way back to him. The two embrace.
- Clark Gable as Victor Marswell
- Ava Gardner as Honey Bear Kelly
- Grace Kelly as Linda Nordley
- Donald Sinden as Donald Nordley
- Philip Stainton as John Brown-Pryce
- Eric Pohlmann as Leon Boltchak
- Laurence Naismith as Skipper
- Denis O'Dea as Father Josef
Production notes 
Grace Kelly was not the first choice for the role of Linda Nordley. Gene Tierney dropped out due to her health problems. The movie was filmed on location in Okalataka, French Congo; Mount Kenya, Thika, Kenya — you can see Mt Longonot and Lake Naivasha, both in the Kenyan Rift Valley, and Fourteen Falls near Thika as backdrops — Kagera River, Tanganyika; Isoila, Uganda; and at the MGM British Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England, UK. The film offers some of the best wildlife shots taken of the African continent, at the time. However there were never gorillas in Kenya so the locations are an odd mix from a naturalist perspective. The music is all performed by local native tribes (except for Gardner accompanied by player piano), unusual for Hollywood, and the film records a traditional Africa and safari style.
In popular culture 
The theme for Mogambo was loosely adapted by Mark Barber for the Auckland University Tramping Club Revue in 1954. A party travelling down the Anawhata on the first Saturday of the May vacation discovered that the cry 'Mogambo' could be produced with great volume and had very satisfactory resonant qualities. It became a club call, of greeting or when making contact on a tramp, for many years.
Comedian Eddie Lawrence, on his 1956 novelty record "King Arthur's Mines," played a great white hunter named Moe Gambo.
Murray "Murray the K" Kauffman, popular 1950s and 1960s New York City DJ, used the chant "Ah, Bey, ah bey, koowi zowa zowa" lifted from Mogambo as one of his trademark on-air phrases.
Mogambo was also the name of the main villain in the Bollywood movie Mr India.
Harry Cohn once observed, "MOGAMBO is a a terrible title. MOGAMBO, starring Clark Gable and Ava Gardner, is a great f...ing title."
- 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1953', Variety, January 13, 1954
- p.144 Zinsser, William Knowlton Seen Any Good Movies Lately? Doubleday, 1958
- "Mogambo (1953) - Misc Notes". TCM.com. 1953-10-09. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
- From Story by Robert McKee p 409
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