Congo Crossing


1h 25m 1956

Brief Synopsis

Congotanga, West Africa, has no extradition laws; the government is controlled by foreign gangsters, headed by Carl Rittner. The latest plane from Europe carries lovely Louise Whitman, fleeing a French murder charge, and Mannering, who pays resident hit man O'Connell to kill her. Through a chain of circumstances Louise, O'Connell, and heroic surveyor David Carr end up alone in the jungle on Carr's mission to determine the true border of Congotanga... in which Rittner is keenly interested.

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 1956
Premiere Information
New York opening: 13 Jul 1956
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Synopsis

In the West African territory of Congotanga, near the Belgian Congo, engineer David Carr's attempt to survey the Morte River for the Belgian Mining Syndicate is disrupted when his assistant, Louis Arneau, catches malaria. David brings Arneau to his friend, Dr. Leopold Gorman, who cannot help because his medicine shipments have once again been interrupted by the businessman who runs Congotanga, Carl Rittner. Meanwhile, a plane bearing Louise Whitman and Peter Mannering is greeted by the nominal chief of police, Colonel John Miguel Orlando Arragas, who knows that most new arrivals are fugitives, attracted to Congotanga because of its lack of extradition laws. At the town hotel, Louise sees David stop Rittner from beating Pompala, a native ex-employee. Meanwhile, Mannering hires Bart O'Connell, a thug from Chicago, to kill Louise, who stands accused of killing a man on the Riviera. That night, Rittner visits the beautiful Louise and offers his "protection" in return for her companionship, but she refuses. She invites David to join her for dinner, but they mistrust each other and she spurns his advice to get away from town by helping out Leo at the hospital. She then accepts Bart's invitation of a walk, and as they tour the area, he pulls out his gun, only to be interrupted when Arragas strolls by. Louise returns to her room, where she is knocked out and robbed by American Amelia Abbott, who is on the run from accusations of poisoning. Louise stumbles to David's room, where she is infuriated to see her money clip, but believes his explanation that he took the money while she walked with Bart, in order to protect it from theft. When she apologizes, he kisses her, and she asks to go with him to Leo's the next day. Just before they leave, Bart volunteers to be the assistant that David so desperately needs, and Amelia to be another hospital aide. On the boat, David questions Louise about the murder she is running from, but sensing that he assumes her guilt, she refuses him any information. Later, David deduces that his survey will document a shift in the river, which will alter the land borders so that Congotanga will fall within the Belgian Congo's boundary. When they arrive at Leo's, Amelia eavesdrops as David informs the doctor of his findings, and then sends a note to Rittner informing him that his town will soon be subject to the Belgian police. That night, Louise describes to David her background as a failed model-turned-playgirl, and realizing that she wants to put the past behind her, he kisses her. At the same time, Bart sees Amelia in Louise's room and, mistaking her for Louise, shoots her. When her body is discovered, Bart convinces Louise that, since the bullet may have been meant for her, she should travel with him and David for protection. The three set off to survey the end of the river, but are soon attacked by Rittner and his men, and although David manages to kill the two henchmen, Rittner escapes. Bart, now convinced the survey maps are valuable, attempts to seduce Louise into stealing the maps and running away with him, and David secretly watches as she rebuffs Bart. Just as they are sailing into a swarm of possibly malarial tse tse flies, Bart holds David at gunpoint to steal the maps, but Pompala pushes the gun away, and although he and David rush to lower the mosquito netting, they run out of time. Over the next few days, David forces Bart to help him with the survey, and gives a note describing the results to Pompala, to be given to Leo if David dies. Soon after, however, Pompala is killed by a crocodile, and Bart finds the note. He then confesses to Louise that he was hired to kill her but would rather have her as a lover, and then attacks her when she tries to push him away. David stops Bart, who laughs that he will have to stay awake day and night. Louise kisses David over the campfire, but he pulls away, finally explaining that his survey results will put her in grave danger. Within days, David contracts malaria, but staves off collapse until he finishes the survey. Desperate to save him, Louise offers all her money and herself to Bart in exchange for bringing David to the hospital. Although Rittner has destroyed the village, Leo has stayed on, and now struggles to save David. Over the next weeks, David recuperates under Louise's close watch, and as soon as he recovers, he gives her the maps. She refuses them, revealing that she did not kill the man in the Riviera, but instead accepted payment from the murderer to assume guilt and disappear. David urges her to return to France with him and face the police, but just then, Bart storms in to claim Louise as his, and David turns away. When Bart sees her crying outside, however, he gruffly informs her he will leave without her, and she runs into David's arms. Suddenly, Arragas arrives with the police to appropriate the maps, but after Louise hides them in her bag, Arragas gives up and agrees to escort them to the airport. He then points out, however, that David does not have his passport, and David insists that Louise go on to the airport alone. He returns to town, where Arragas forms an alliance with Rittner to get the maps. They stop Bart from leaving town, and trapped, he reveals that Louise has the maps, after which Rittner's men leave for the airport. Soon after, Arragas saves David by shooting Rittner's henchman, and the two race to the airport together. There, Rittner, who has killed Bart, and his men shoot into the building in which Leo and Louise are trapped. David and Arragas join the fight, and David kills off all of Rittner's men by detonating the gasoline barrels. He then runs to the plane with Louise and Leo, and when Rittner tries to run them over, Arragas shoots him. David and Louise board the plane together, and Leo and Arragas, who hope to find protection under the Belgian government, watch them start their journey back to France.

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 1956
Premiere Information
New York opening: 13 Jul 1956
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Articles

Virginia Mayo (1920-2005)


Virginia Mayo, the delectable, "peaches and cream" leading lady of the 40s, who on occasion, could prove herself quite capable in dramatic parts, died on January 17 at a nursing home in Thousand Oaks, CA of pneumonia and heart failure. She was 84.

She was born Virginia Clara Jones in St. Louis, Missouri on November 30, 1920, and got her show business start at the age of six by enrolling in her aunt's School of Dramatic Expression. While still in her teens, she joined the nightclub circuit, and after paying her dues for a few years traveling across the country, she eventually caught the eye of movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn. He gave her a small role in her first film, starring future husband, Michael O'Shea, in Jack London (1943). She then received minor billing as a "Goldwyn Girl," in the Danny Kaye farce, Up In Arms (1944). Almost immediately, Goldwyn saw her natural movement, comfort and ease in front of the camera, and in just her fourth film, she landed a plumb lead opposite Bob Hope in The Princess and the Pirate (1944). She proved a hit with moviegoers, and her next two films would be with her most frequent leading man, Danny Kaye: Wonder Man (1945), and The Kid from Brooklyn (1946). Both films were big hits, and the chemistry between Mayo and Kaye - the classy, reserved blonde beauty clashing with the hyperactive clown - was surprisingly successful.

Mayo did make a brief break from light comedy, and gave a good performance as Dana Andrews' unfaithful wife, Marie, in the popular post-war drama, The Best Years of Their Lives (1946); but despite the good reviews, she was back with Kaye in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), and A Song Is Born (1948).

It wasn't until the following year that Mayo got the chance to sink her teeth into a meaty role. That film, White Heat (1949), and her role, as Cody Jarrett's (James Cagney) sluttish, conniving wife, Verna, is memorable for the sheer ruthlessness of her performance. Remember, it was Verna who shot Cody¿s mother in the back, and yet when Cody confronts her after he escapes from prison to exact revenge for her death, Verna effectively places the blame on Big Ed (Steve Cochran):

Verna: I can't tell you Cody!
Cody: Tell me!
Verna: Ed...he shot her in the back!!!

Critics and fans purred over the newfound versatility, yet strangely, she never found a part as juicy as Verna again. Her next film, with Cagney, The West Point Story (1950), was a pleasant enough musical; but her role as Lady Wellesley in Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (1951), co-starring Gregory Peck, was merely decorative; that of a burlesque queen attempting to earn a university degree in the gormless comedy, She¿s Working Her Way Through College (1952); and worst of all, the Biblical bomb, The Silver Chalice (1954) which was, incidentally, Paul Newman's film debut, and is a film he still derides as the worst of his career.

Realizing that her future in movies was slowing down, she turned to the supper club circuit in the 60s with her husband, Michael O'Shea, touring the country in such productions as No, No Nanette, Barefoot in the Park, Hello Dolly, and Butterflies Are Free. Like most performers who had outdistanced their glory days with the film industry, Mayo turned to television for the next two decades, appearing in such shows as Night Gallery, Police Story, Murder She Wrote, and Remington Steele. She even earned a recurring role in the short-lived NBC soap opera, Santa Barbara (1984-85), playing an aging hoofer named "Peaches DeLight." Mayo was married to O'Shea from 1947 until his death in 1973. She is survived by their daughter, Mary Johnston; and three grandsons.

by Michael T. Toole
Virginia Mayo (1920-2005)

Virginia Mayo (1920-2005)

Virginia Mayo, the delectable, "peaches and cream" leading lady of the 40s, who on occasion, could prove herself quite capable in dramatic parts, died on January 17 at a nursing home in Thousand Oaks, CA of pneumonia and heart failure. She was 84. She was born Virginia Clara Jones in St. Louis, Missouri on November 30, 1920, and got her show business start at the age of six by enrolling in her aunt's School of Dramatic Expression. While still in her teens, she joined the nightclub circuit, and after paying her dues for a few years traveling across the country, she eventually caught the eye of movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn. He gave her a small role in her first film, starring future husband, Michael O'Shea, in Jack London (1943). She then received minor billing as a "Goldwyn Girl," in the Danny Kaye farce, Up In Arms (1944). Almost immediately, Goldwyn saw her natural movement, comfort and ease in front of the camera, and in just her fourth film, she landed a plumb lead opposite Bob Hope in The Princess and the Pirate (1944). She proved a hit with moviegoers, and her next two films would be with her most frequent leading man, Danny Kaye: Wonder Man (1945), and The Kid from Brooklyn (1946). Both films were big hits, and the chemistry between Mayo and Kaye - the classy, reserved blonde beauty clashing with the hyperactive clown - was surprisingly successful. Mayo did make a brief break from light comedy, and gave a good performance as Dana Andrews' unfaithful wife, Marie, in the popular post-war drama, The Best Years of Their Lives (1946); but despite the good reviews, she was back with Kaye in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), and A Song Is Born (1948). It wasn't until the following year that Mayo got the chance to sink her teeth into a meaty role. That film, White Heat (1949), and her role, as Cody Jarrett's (James Cagney) sluttish, conniving wife, Verna, is memorable for the sheer ruthlessness of her performance. Remember, it was Verna who shot Cody¿s mother in the back, and yet when Cody confronts her after he escapes from prison to exact revenge for her death, Verna effectively places the blame on Big Ed (Steve Cochran): Verna: I can't tell you Cody! Cody: Tell me! Verna: Ed...he shot her in the back!!! Critics and fans purred over the newfound versatility, yet strangely, she never found a part as juicy as Verna again. Her next film, with Cagney, The West Point Story (1950), was a pleasant enough musical; but her role as Lady Wellesley in Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (1951), co-starring Gregory Peck, was merely decorative; that of a burlesque queen attempting to earn a university degree in the gormless comedy, She¿s Working Her Way Through College (1952); and worst of all, the Biblical bomb, The Silver Chalice (1954) which was, incidentally, Paul Newman's film debut, and is a film he still derides as the worst of his career. Realizing that her future in movies was slowing down, she turned to the supper club circuit in the 60s with her husband, Michael O'Shea, touring the country in such productions as No, No Nanette, Barefoot in the Park, Hello Dolly, and Butterflies Are Free. Like most performers who had outdistanced their glory days with the film industry, Mayo turned to television for the next two decades, appearing in such shows as Night Gallery, Police Story, Murder She Wrote, and Remington Steele. She even earned a recurring role in the short-lived NBC soap opera, Santa Barbara (1984-85), playing an aging hoofer named "Peaches DeLight." Mayo was married to O'Shea from 1947 until his death in 1973. She is survived by their daughter, Mary Johnston; and three grandsons. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Although a January 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Sylvia Richards was originally slated to write the screenplay for Congo Crossing, only Richard Alan Simmons received onscreen credit. Actor Maurice Doner is listed before Bernard Hamilton in the closing credits, but is not included in the opening credits. An October 1955 Hollywood Reporter item adds Gilbert Connor to the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.