Monday, April 20, 2015

Kongo (1932)

Deadlegs Flint (Walter Huston) has built an ivory poaching empire deep in the African jungle. But his ultimate goal isn't wealth. It's revenge. Revenge on the man who stole his wife and made him a cripple. But more than that, the man who sneered at him. Trouble is in store for everyone concerned.

Something of a remake of the Lon Chaney silent West of Zanzibar from four years earlier, or at least of the theatrical source material, Kongo is a dark, gritty drama that borders on Horror. There are more racist films, but none come to mind. You see, the Africans are primitive and childlike, and can easily be controlled with slight of hand tricks and sugar cubes. Of course, whitey doesn't come off too stellar either. Huston's Flint is truly terrible. He manipulates English and Africans alike. Even Portuguese. His physical portrayal was very convincing and Chaney-esque. I suppose now I have to see the original.

The center of the plot resolves around Flint's plan to punish his nemesis by disgracing the man's daughter (Virginia Bruce), whom he has captured. It's this daughter, mad from disease, torture, and brandy, as well as a stoned-off-his-ass doctor who happens upon the scene, who serve as the story's protagonists. Hot tamale Lupe Velez plays a mostly sympathetic character. She would go off herself twelve years later. And so it goes.

Very stylized acting typical of low-rent thrillers, Huston's performance was impressive never-the-less. It won't stand up against the best in the genre, but am glad I saw it. Not sure how I would feel if I was from Africa, however.
"Fuzzy got boom stick? Fuzzy keep two eyes on new white man all time. New white man come in, if he try go, fuzzy shoot, boom, kill. Fuzzy watch, all time."

No comments:

Post a Comment