The first few shows of Aussie Improv Comedy Explosion are under our collective belt and word is spreading of our improvised insanity. On stage this week, I have drowned on a water-slide, sung about gum-scrapers and confessed to stealing a cat with Lindsay Lohan. What happens in Vegas...
We've reached the end of the current crop of nominees so make sure to get your vote in for the next year of review. The poll is over there on the right hand side of the screen.
Last night, I caught the final nominee from the 1930/31 Best Picture race...
W.S. Van Dyke
Dale Van Every, John Thomas Neville, Richard Schayer, Cyril Hume
(based on the book by Ethelreda Lewis and Alfred Aloysius Horn)
Harry Carey, Edwina Booth, Duncan Renaldo, Mutia Omoolu, Olive Golden
In Africa, we meet a man who calls himself Trader Horn (Carey), presumably because he is in the business of trading elephant ivory. He and his companion Peru (Renaldo) along with a native guide they call Ranchero (Omoolu) run into missionary Edith Trent (Golden) who is searching for her long-lost daughter Nina (Booth), captured by a local tribe years ago. When Mrs. Trent is killed, Horn and company continue the search encountering perilous wildlife and unfriendly natives.
Classifying Trader Horn as an adventure film seems the most appropriate, yet perhaps one could argue another way. Despite its renown for being the first fictional film to be shot on location in Africa, at times it plays out like a nature documentary. Several sections of the narrative see Horn pointing out various species of African wildlife and offering his travelling partner a brief description of the animals' behaviour. We also witness Horn interact with the local tribesmen, all played by actual African natives.
Since many of these scenes are gratuitous, offering little in the way of moving the plot forward, one wonders why they didn't just make a documentary. However, the images captured are indeed fascinating. Seeing all these animals in their natural habitat is often spectacular, especially when we witness displays of aggression. Had the American Humane Association had their Film & TV Unit in operation at the time, no doubt they would have had a field day with the scenes in which hunters shoot rhinos or throw spears at lions.
Like East Lynne from the same year, Trader Horn managed to secure a Best Picture nomination without receiving a single other nod. Clearly, the safari spectacle was enough for voters to push it over the line. The cast, led by Harry Carey as the intrepid adventurer, are mostly melodramatic, not an uncommon occurrence for pictures of this era.