Cast & Crew
In 1919 in Africa, Harry Quatermain, son of famous white hunter Allan Quartermain, seeks out his father's close associate, former jungle guide Rick Cobb. Surprised and pleased to meet his old friend's son, Rick is taken aback when Harry reveals his intention to resume his father's quest for a legendary stash of diamonds located in King Solomon's mines. Despite Rick's warning about the dangers involved in reaching the mines deep within the interior and his doubt of the treasure's existence, Harry remains confident. Showing Rick a Watusi medallion left him by his father, Harry declares that the pendant should allow them to get through Watusiland, where the mines are located, in relative safety. Rick agrees to help Harry put together a safari, but when he recommends crack-shot Wilhelm von Kinter as additional protection, Harry rejects him. Later, Harry explains to Rick that he was a captain in the Scottish guard in the Great War and harbors bitterness toward the Germans because his mother and sister were drowned when their ship was sunk by u-boats. The large group sets off, retracing Allan Quatermain's journey more than twenty years earlier. A few days out, Harry and Rick come across a severely injured native who, before dying, warns them that the white god has been attacked. Harry learns of a mission nearby, but when the group arrives at the village housing the mission, they find the area abandoned and the European missionary murdered. Harry, Rick and a few of the native guards follow the sound of horns and drums to a neighboring village where they rescue a young white woman from being tortured. After escaping the pursing natives by setting fire to a small footbridge, they rejoin the rest of their group. The woman introduces herself as Erica Neuler, the daughter of the dead missionary. Noticing smoke gathering in the distance, Harry and Rick realize the bridge fire has spread and is certain to alarm the animals around them. Shortly thereafter, a violent stampede of zebra, giraffes and other wild animals forces the expedition to seek cover. Afterward, Harry's brusqueness to Erica raises her curiosity and Rick reveals Harry's hostility toward Germans. Although angered by this explanation, Erica refrains from antagonizing Harry, helping whenever possible as the grueling safari progresses. Rick is captivated by Erica's natural beauty and poise in the harsh conditions. Harry, however, remains cool to Erica and she later confesses to Rick that she wishes she could leave the safari. Some days later, the expedition comes across an elephant herd and Harry kills a large bull in order to present it as a gift to natives in the next village. The natives welcome them with a ceremonial dance and provide guides for the continuation of the safari. As the journey proceeds deeper into the jungles, Harry begins to worry about the dangers of fever. Unknown to the others, Harry gives them his share of quinine so that they will have an ample supply, and soon he is overcome by fever. Harry is carried to the next campsite, where Erica nurses him through the fever using a native treatment learned from her father. A mysterious native arrives at the camp, and, after examining Harry's medallion, asks to join them. Once Harry has regained his strength, he thanks Erica for saving him and she reveals that her mother died of the fever. Harry offers Erica his sympathy for the loss of her father, then, under Erica's probing, discloses the death of his mother and sister. The expedition proceeds, avoiding a hungry lion pride and an aggressive hippopotamus herd. The first night in the land of the pigmies, the bearers abandon the expedition in fear of the lethal traps the natives set to capture prey. A few days before reaching the mines, Harry startles Erica by offering her one-third of the riches they may find. As the three carry on with only the mysterious native for company, Harry and Rick become aware of rising tension between them as their mutual feelings for Erica grow. At the next campsite, Rick confesses to Harry that once he has his share of the diamonds, he intends to return to England after spending twenty years in Africa. The following day the group arrives in the Watusi village and discover that their native companion is a member of the tribe. Harry presents the medallion to Chief Umbopa, who, after warmly recalling Allan Quartermain, gives his permission for the trio to continue on to the mines. That evening Rick tells Harry they must come to a decision about Erica and later, proposes to her in private. Touched, Erica nevertheless evades a direct answer, telling Rick they should wait until their journey has ended. The next morning, Watusi guides lead them to the mountains in which the mines are located, then depart. Once inside the mountains, Harry, Rick and Erica discover the mines have given way to caves steaming with molten lava. Foraging ahead despite the heat, they find a stone box filled not only with diamonds, but other precious jewels. After taking several handfuls of the gems, Harry and the others discover the lava has cut off their exit, forcing them to seek another passage. After crossing a dangerous ledge, they return to the Watusi village safely. Once there, Rick prepares for an immediate departure, but Harry realizes he has found peace and contentment in Africa. Although Rick scoffs, Harry insists his destiny is to remain in Africa. When Erica joins the men, Rick tells Harry his prejudice against the Germans is wrong. After Rick confesses that although he was raised in England, he was born in Germany, he advises Harry to reconsider his inflexible opinion. Humbled, Harry apologizes to his friend and presents Rick with his cherished wartime bayonet. Erica surprises both men by declaring her intention to remain with Harry in Watusiland. Although saddened, Rick wishes both his friends well. That evening, Umbopa arranges a celebration for Harry and Erica.
Anthony M. Davis
William B. Gulick
Charles K. Hagedon
William A. Horning
Harold E. Wellman
The working title of the film was Return to King Solomon's Mines. A Hollywood Reporter news item from April 1958 stated that Floyd Simmons was under consideration for the starring role of "Harry Quartermain." As noted in Hollywood Reporter, shortly after completing editing on Watusi, director Kurt Neumann died. Although the United Artist film Counterplot, which Neumann directed, was released at the very end of 1959, it was in production in 1957, making Watusi Neumann's final film.
The film was loosely based on H. Rider Haggard's classic novel, King Solomon's Mines, which M-G-M had previously filmed in 1950, starring Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr and RIchard Carlson, directed by Compton Bennett and Andrew Morton (for more information on that and other versions of the Haggard novel, please consult the entry in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50).
According to a Hollywood Reporter news item and several reviews, M-G-M used several thousand feet of footage from King Solomon's Mines in Watusi, including the famous wild animal stampede sequence. Several long shots in Watusi include Granger, Kerr and Carlson. In Watusi, which is set twenty years after the novel, the safari adventure is centered on "Harry Quartermain," the son of famed white hunter "Allan Quartermain," who is the protagonist of the novel. Haggard also wrote a sequel, Allan Quartermain, in which Harry dies. In 1958 and 1987, Richard Chamberlain portrayed Allan Quartermain in King Solomon's Mines, which was directed by J. Lee Thompson, and Lost City of Gold, which was directed by Gary Nelson.