Cast & Crew
In 1903 in British East Africa, American John Gale and his partner, Duffy, run a lumber business. When an escaped murderer, Abel McCracken, incites the Mukumbi tribe of warriors into pillaging local villages and businesses, John assembles a safari to track him down. He soon reaches the ruins of McCracken's most recent attack, where a man has been shot with an arrow and left to die. John cauterizes the man's wound and instructs his workers to carry the man, who is McCracken's brother but identifies himself as Dan Harder. The next day, the group stumbles onto a Mukumbi attack of a small farmhouse. The owner, Bob Marion, has just been killed, and his sister Peggy guards his children, Andy and Sally. The safari chases away the Mukumbi, after which John, who is anxious to stay on McCracken's trail, invites the defenseless family to accompany him. Peggy wants John to escort them to Nairobi so she can leave Africa, and scorns his decision to protect his business instead of their lives. The whole group sets out the next morning, with Peggy dressed in impractical but proper attire. John's right-hand man, Andolo, brings donkeys for the children to ride, and although John originally barks that they will attract predatory animals, he grumpily allows them after noting the children's disappointment. One night, after days of trekking, John spurns both Dan's efforts to raise doubts about McCracken's guilt and Peggy's attempt to seduce him into heading to Nairobi. The next day, when the group must cross a crocodile-infested river, John carries a petrified Peggy and deliberately drops her into the water. She then hides behind a tree to wring out her clothes and is further infuriated after a monkey steals her corset. Soon after, one of the donkeys gets loose, and when a furious John goes after it, he is almost killed by a tiger. The group finally reaches the lumber camp, where they find the business wrecked and Duffy killed. Despondent, John offers to give Dan and Peggy half the safari so they can go to Nairobi alone, but they decide to stay with him. At the camp that night, as John and Peggy realize that they have feelings for each other, Andy shouts a warning that narrowly saves them from an attack by a Mukumbi warrior. They imprison the warrior, but after everyone is asleep, Dan releases him and orders him to lead the way to McCracken. They reach Tanganyika, the country in which McCracken reigns over a village of warriors, and Dan is warmly welcomed by his brother. Dan is almost convinced of McCracken's sanity until he spots liquor bottles imprinted with John's lumber company name, proving McCracken was behind the attack. When Dan entreats him to return to America and plead insanity, McCracken responds that he will stop at nothing to retain his freedom. Meanwhile, John's safari trails Dan, and when they stop to shoot a rampaging elephant, Andy and Sally race off after their spooked donkey. They promptly get lost, and John and Peggy wander all night looking for them. John attempts to comfort Peggy, but just then, the Mukumbi appear. They have forcibly brought Dan with them to take the safari members prisoner. Upon hearing that McCracken is holding the children hostage so that the safari will come to Tanganyika with all their belongings, John punches Dan, who protests that he now realizes his brother is insane and must be stopped. That night, John, Dan, Peggy and Andolo secretly rig their supply cases of dynamite and then, as they draw close to Tanganyika the next day, hide them at intervals and light the fuses, which are set to detonate soon after they reach the village. Finally, they are brought before McCracken, who reveals that he is keeping Andy and Sally as security against the British government. John learns that the army is already approaching, and although McCracken scoffs at him, soon the dynamite crates begin to explode one after the other. Believing they are being invaded, the Mukumbi panic and run into the jungle while McCracken grabs his rifles. Dan frees the children, but as Peggy ushers them into the protection of the jungle, McCracken spots his brother and shoots him. Dan collapses into John's arms, where he soon dies. John throws the last stick of dynamite into McCracken's tent, and when he is satisfied that the despot has been killed, joins Peggy and the children on their way to Nairobi.
Edward C. Short
Monroe W. Burbank
Leslie I. Carey
Albert J. Cohen
William R. Cox
Russell A. Gausman
A. B. Roberts
Richard Alan Simmons
Joan St. Oegger
TCM Remembers Andre de Toth
Born in Mako, Hungary to the son of a civil engineer, De Toth showed an early artistic bent, having his first exhibit of paintings and sculpture at age 14 and seeing his first play produced at age 18. After obtaining his law degree from the University of Budapest, he began acting, writing and working as a cameraman for cinematographer Istvan Eiben. In 1939, he went to England, where he worked as a second unit director for Alexander Korda on The Thief of Bagdad and other films. De Toth immigrated to Hollywood in the early '40s, and worked with Korda on The Jungle Book (1942) and several other films.
He made his Hollywood directing debut with the 1943 feature, Passport to Suez, a propaganda thriller about the Nazis wanting to bomb the Suez Canal.
Impressed with his ability, Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, put the director under contract for one film and the result, None Shall Escape (1944), launched his Hollywood career. This tense, sensitive drama about a Nazi officer made to examine his actions was fascinating in its structure: Set after the war's end, the film centers around the trial of a Nazi butcher, Wilhelm Grimm (Alexander Knox), in Poland and makes excellent use of flashbacks illustrating the prosecution's testimony to form the bulk of the film. In a way, the film predicted the Nuremberg Trials after the war.
de Toth earned considerable critical acclaim with the taut, intense noir thriller Pitfall (1948) which he co-wrote. Starring Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott and Raymond Burr, this story of a bored insurance salesman who embarks on an affair because he feels stifled in his picture-perfect home (a devoted wife, son, nice house, successful career, etc.) was striking as one of the first films to examine the American dream gone sour. De Toth followed that with a shared Oscar nomination with William Bowers for Best Original Motion Picture Story for The Gunfighter (1950), a haunting character study of a killer (Gregory Peck) trying to live down his past.
His biggest commercial hit came with House of Wax (1953), the movie that launched Vincent Price's horror film career and is still regarded as the best of all three-dimensional films to be released during that period. Unlike other directors who seemed to be dabbling with a new technique, De Toth emphasized character and plot over the special effects: Price was a sculptor rebuilding his wax figure collection (destroyed by fire) by making statues out of his murder victims. The one-eyed de Toth was an odd choice to helm a 3-D film as he could not experience the stereoscopic process, having lost an eye in his youth, but he persevered and it was the most successful 3-D film of its day.
De Toth followed that hit with some fine films: Crime Wave (1954), a hostage thriller that boasts some fine performances by Sterling Hayden and Gene Nelson and excellent location shooting on the streets of Los Angeles; The Indian Fighter (1955) an exciting Kirk Douglas vehicle about a wagon master leading his train through rough territory that won accolades for depicting the Native Americans with more depth than contemporary directors; and Day of the Outlaw (1959), the stark, stylish, low budget western about an outlaw (Burl Ives) and his gang taking over taking a small town and matching wits with one of its citizens (Robert Ryan). For many, this film best articulated many of the recurring themes in De Toth's work that would be evaluated only decades later by film scholars: survival, betrayal, the capacity for evil and complexities of human relationships.
In the early sixties film work became increasingly scarce for De Toth and he found himself relegated to directing for television: Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip and The Westerner. Tired of the limitations he was finding in Hollywood, De Toth headed to Europe in the '60s, where he found work as an uncredited consultant and location scout on David Lean's extravagant Lawrence of Arabia (1962). He directed a few films abroad, the best of which was the World War II action film Play Dirty (1968), starring Michael Caine, and then he more or less retired from active filmmaking. It was not until recently that De Toth began to receive critical recognition for his entertaining body of work. The last few years have seen several retrospectives and he enjoyed a renewed popularity at film festivals from Scotland to San Francisco. His contributions to film were recognized with the 1995 life achievement prize by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the publication of his autobiography, Fragments: Portraits From the Inside, as well as an interview book, De Toth on De Toth, by Anthony Slide. De Toth was married for a time to Veronica Lake (1944-1952) with whom he had two children. He is survived by his wife, Ann Green.
by Michael T. Toole
TCM Remembers Andre de Toth
Although the June 1954 Los Angeles Examiner review states that Tanganyika was shot entirely in California with stock footage of jungle animals added in, press materials report that "more than half of the production time" was spent shooting in "remote location settings." Those locations, if any, remain unidentified. According to a September 1952 "Rambling Reporter" item in Hollywood Reporter, Lauren Bacall was considered for the role of "Peggy Marion." The New York Times reported in May 1956 that Tanganyika was banned in India for "presenting 'disparaging' impressions of life in Africa."
Released in United States Summer June 1954
Released in United States Summer June 1954