Sanders of the River


Adventure / Drama / Music

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 80%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 27%
IMDb Rating 5.5 10 523

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
March 26, 2021 at 08:12 AM


808.75 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 27 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bkoganbing 7 / 10

Instrument Of Enforcement

Viewed today, 74 years after the film came out Sanders Of The River is a paradoxical film with the good and bad of British colonial attitudes of the 19th century. It's based on the first novel by Edgar Wallace, prolific British author who spent much time in Africa during the latter 19th and early 20th century.

Sanders played by Leslie Banks is the local administrator of an area of what is now Nigeria and a man who is confidently shouldering the white man's burden as he saw it. Nevertheless he's probably the best representative of his type in the area, someone the British see as the best in themselves.

He's taken the trouble to study the languages and cultures of the various tribes in his area and mixes in the local politics judiciously and fairly. When one of the tribal kings, Tony Wane, starts resorting to the slave trade which the British fought vigorously to suppress, Banks comes up with his own instrument of enforcement.

His instrument is rival king, Paul Robeson of a different tribe and on that the plot of Sanders Of The River turns.

Robeson was over in the United Kingdom at the time because he could not get the kind of film roles he wanted in the USA with America hung up on stereotypical blacks. Though the film is a salute to the judiciousness and fairness of British colonial role, Robeson took the part because I believe it gave him a chance to show the real Africa. There is no way America was ever going to make this kind of film. After MGM's near disaster with Trader Horn, American companies shied from location shooting until there until The African Queen and King Solomon's Mines.

Though taking place in the Nigeria area, the film was shot on location in the Kenya colony and we learned that the first Kenyan president, Jomo Kenyatta actually was an extra in this film. Robeson gets a chance to sing a couple of songs written by Mischa Spoliansky and Arthur Winder, but are as good in the black idiom as Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. No way Paul Robeson would have sung them if they weren't.

Robeson is joined in the vocal department by Nina Mae McKinney who scored big in King Vidor's Hallelujah, but was then unable to find decent roles for a beautiful black singer. That would wait until Lena Horne came on the scene and not altogether satisfactorily done there. She plays Robeson's wife and mother of his child and her capture by the rival king sets off a potentially nasty blood bath.

Sanders Of The River though incredibly dated should be seen quite frankly because of that. Robeson's singing voice is at its best here and this is a picture of Africa you won't get in Tarzan films.

Reviewed by dsewizzrd-1 8 / 10

Ripping Yarn

Paul Robeson is the star in this Ripping Yarn, with the British keeping the 'picaninnies' under control in Nigeria.

A number of pastoral African scenes of the National Geographic variety (if you know what I mean) are included in this story of the conflict between two tribes in the African heartland.

Don't believe the undergraduate comments here - this is nowhere near as racist as the B grade American films made in the same era ("The Jazz Singer" for instance, and it's ilk), or TV series of the fifties - the Africans are dead glamorous and brave, and the British characters wooden and two-dimensional.

Reviewed by weezeralfalfa 7 / 10

The 'whiteman's burden' in turn of the century Nigeria

Tells the story of an outsider(Paul Robeson, as Bosambo) who migrated into central Nigeria(then part of British West Africa), along the Niger River, and soon became a chief of the Ochuri people(sounds very unlikely). He is tall and robust: a good warrior when he has to be, but prefers to promote peace among and between the various tribes of the region, against raids for slaves and wives. Hence, Bosambo has become a favorite of the district commissioner: Sanders. He hopes to make him chief of all the tribes along this stretch of the river, as a first step toward detribalization of the region.

Opposing this plan is King Mofolaba, who wants to continue raids for slaves and more wives. He is especially angry at Bosambo for making him give up the people in his last raid. Among these people was Bosambo's future wife: Lilongo(Nina Mae McKinney). In the temporary absence of Sanders from the region, Mofolaba wants to capture and kill Bosambo, using his captured wife as bait. His wife is captured, and Bosambo decides to treck alone to Mofolaba's village to negotiate the release of his wife, a very dangerous move. He is also captured and tied to a stake, ready to be killed. But, Sanders has returned, and is commanding a gunboat, making the difficult journey up the rivet to Mofolaba's village. He arrives just in time to free Bosambo and his wife, spraying machine gun bullets toward the village(although,I didn't see any warriors fall, just runaway!). After Mofolaba is dispatched, at a gathering of all the chiefs in the region, Sanders asks them to accept Bosambo as their higher chief.

I should mention that 2 white men were smuggling rifles and liquor to the natives. They spread the rumor that Sanders had died, thus inducing Mofolaba to resume his slave raiding. But, when he found out this wasn't true, Mofolaba had these 2 killed.

It was interesting seeing the native people being themselves, including their ritual singing and dancing. Robeson sang several warrior songs: "The Song of the Spear", and "The Lion Song". Nina Mae McKinney sang the lullaby "My Little Black Dove" to her infant child.

Paul Robeson was very appropriate to play Bosambo. He was born in America, but came to spend much time in Britain and Europe, away from the racial prejudice of America. He was a superb athlete, and genius: learning many languages and was valedictorian of his Rutgers class. He was an accomplished singer and actor, having sung "Ole Man River" in the 1936 film version of "Showboat". Later, he became involved in civil rights, and flirted with Communism. After finishing the present film, he was sorry he had participated in it, feeling that it rationalized colonialism more than bringing the native African to the attention of American audiences.

Nina Mae McKinney, who played Bosambo's wife, was also born in the US and also spent much time in Europe, getting away from the prejudice in America, and especially Hollywood. She was regarded as quite beautiful, and talented in acting and singing. Her beauty was actually a handicap for Hollywood roles, at this time.

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