What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
This movie is not on my list of essential films.
NOTE: This installment of Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies is being done as part of something called the The Stewart Granger Blog-A-Thon being hosted by Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. Maddy is a self-described “lover of classic films since her early teems,” and that love shows when she writes about them. Not only should you be following her blog, if you are a fan of classic films, you should be reading and following all those who participated in this blog-a-thon!
Not only that, but if you like what you see here and throughout this blog-a-thon, there’s a whole lot more from where that came. Here’s a list of events in which Dubsism will be participating over the next few months:
That’s just for starters. For a complete listing check out Dubsism’s Movies and Blog-A-Thons page for a full schedule of projects past, present, and future! There a wealth of great classic film reading there, even if you include my nonsense!
“King Solomon’s Mines” might very well be the ultimate “comfort” movie. Just like we all have “comfort” foods, we all have “comfort” movies. Be they movies or food, the things we drop into the “comfort” category are things to which we turn when we need a hefty dose of getting exactly that which we expect. Lots of people love a big, hot dish of macaroni and cheese because there’s nothing better when you want something fulfilling, but not with an overbearing presence…and still somehow is wholesomely decadent. But above all, it delivers exactly what it promises.
There’s almost no better description of this movie; it’s going to be EXACTLY what you expect, especially if you follow this one-sentence synopsis: “King Solomon’s Mines” is a tale of a 19th -Century safari leader (played by Stewart Granger) hired by a woman of nobility (played by Deborah Kerr) to find her husband who disappeared while searching the unexplored African interior for the riches hidden in the King’s mines.”
For those of you who are new to Sports Analogies Hidden in Classic Movies, I religiously avoid spoilers, even though this movie is nearly 70 years old. In this case, I want those who have yet to see “King Solomon’s Mines” to be able to compare their vision of what this film is based off that one-sentence synopsis to the reality. I would be willing to bet they are all pretty close.
The main plot revolves around Granger’s Allan Quartermain and Kerr’s Elizabeth Curtis embarking on an arduous journey across the wilds of Africa. Woven around that is the fact Quartermain wants nothing to do a woman on his safari, which as Hollywood is wont to do leads to low-level sexual tension between the two. While it is in the same vein, it is much more subtle than the “Cheers/Sam and Diane”-type stifled romance because a) we don’t know if Elizabeth’s husband is dead or alive and b) a bunch of playful sexual innuendo and double-entendre would have been as out of place in this movie as a Sammy Hagar reference would be in this post.
Just don’t confuse “subtle” with “absent.” Granger spends a lot of time in this movie without a shirt, which serves to point out that he really is the stereotypical “tall, dark, and handsome” leading man of the era. He’s got just enough Cary Grant-ish debonair (despite the fact he’s on safari, he’s always clean-shaven and his hair is immaculate) with an equal amount of Clark Gable-ish “machismo” (I can’t tell you how many times I thought he wanted to tell Elizabeth he “didn’t give a damn”), with just enough John Wayne-ish “tough guy” to let Granger pull off this role. Opposite that, Kerr checks all the boxes for the usual “damsel in distress” once they are in the field. This leads to several awkward embraces during which you can tell they would like to get their “Jungle Boogie” on; there’s even one in which we get a straight-up “head fake” for a kiss. But for the aforementioned reasons, they can’t. Oh…there’s one other reason. Elizabeth’s brother-in-law also happens to be part of the safari. That’s a perfect “Three Lock ‘Cock-Block’ Box,” which brings us to the completely needless and totally out-of-place Sammy Hagar reference.
At least you can’t say you weren’t warned.
But then again, maybe the “Red Rocker” isn’t so out of place here. If we’re sticking with the “comfort” angle, if I want something that gives me the sinew and innards of of 80s Rock was without breaking out the “top shelf” stuff; if I want my nose aroma-punched by the smell of White Rain hair-spray and Paco Rabanne after-shave just by watching a video, is there a better example of “delivering exactly what you expect” than Sammy Hagar?
Getting back on point, the sub-plot that really ties the whole movie together involves a tall, mysterious tribesman named Umbopa who literally shows up out of nowhere and joins the safari. The first-time viewer will spent a lot of time trying to figure why Umbopa exists, until it is revealed he is a king who had his throne stolen out from under him by a rival named Twala. Oh, by the way, the kingdom in question is where a) King Solomon’s Mines are and b) where Elizabeth’s husband probably is.
The denouement of the film comes with Elizabeth and Allan trapped in very same mines for which this film is titled, while Umbopa and Twala fight to the death. In other words, if you’re in the mood for an action-packed adventure salted with intrigue, low-key romance, and sweeping African vistas, “King’s Solomon’s Mines” will deliver exactly that.
The Hidden Sports Analogy:
It’s more than fitting that this installment’s sports analogy is as well-hidden as King Solomon’s mines were. To get there, you first need to indulge me on a short, but important “grumpy old man” rant. To keep this short enough so that I don’t get a vein the size of a garden hose protruding from my neck, I have absolutely no patience for people who call themselves classic film fans, then proceed to shit all over old movies by holding them to today’s social mores. The words which would allow me to express accurately how monumentally stupid and self-centered that is have yet to be invented. Hopefully, the journey to today’s hidden analogy will illustrate that belief.
This stems from a time years ago when I had a chance to see this movie in one of those old-school, single-screen theaters clinging to a by-gone era by running films like “King Solomon’s Mines” for classic film buffs. The upside is I got to see this movie on the big-screen; the cinematography alone was worth the price of admission. One would also think that having maybe ten other people in a 300-seat theater would be a good thing… except it allowed me to hear the grumbling disapproval of some dim-bulb whose sole ràison d’être seemed to be spewing her nonsense for all to hear. Understand this woman is alone…no one is sitting with her, but she was not shy when it came to verbalizing her objection to what was happening on the screen.
Go back to my one-sentence synopsis of this movie and keep it in mind balanced against the “comfort/delivering what you expect” theme I’ve already established as I walk through this idiot’s commentary.
She’s horrified at the idea of big-game hunting.
To be blunt…what the fuck did she expect? Just look at the movie poster at the top of this piece. How much of a Play-Doh-brain do you have to be to see “Thousands of thundering African jungle beasts in the wildest stampede ever filmed,” realize this movie was made in 1950, and is set two turns of the century ago to realize this movie may not be PETA-approved? Not only did the disclaimer “no animals were harmed in the filming of this movie” not exist yet, but you aren’t 60 seconds past the opening credits before we all know Allan Quartermain makes his living taking rich assholes out into the bush so they can shoot animals for not other reason than to mount their heads on their walls.
She damn near came unglued at the moment Granger says “any woman who wants to go on a safari must have something wrong with them.”
In other words, we aren’t five minutes into this picture and now she’s has decided that everything is about “misogyny,” despite that pretty much every objection Allan Quartermain has to Elizabeth’s presence on the safari turns out to be right, including the fact she plays a major role in getting Allan’s “right hand man” Khiva killed. Not to mention, throughout this entire film, people are getting nearly bitten by giant spiders, trampled by various beasts, have death-defying encounters with various types of snakes, and almost being eaten by crocodiles. My idea of “roughing it” is staying in a hotel which doesn’t have room service; I think ANYBODY who wants to do shit like this has a screw loose.
I’m not even going to mention what she had to say about the portrayal of the African characters.
I’m sure you can figure it out as well at this point give what you’ve seen so far; it’s typical “white guilt” nonsense. The worst part is when this nudnik is actually wanting Twala’s men to kill Quartermain and all the white people in the safari because “they don’t belong there in the first place..” Who the hell goes to a movie and roots for the main character to get killed? That’s why “Psycho” blew so many people’s minds because Hitchcock had one of his main characters get chopped up in a shower 40 minutes into the picture.
That’s important because this really is the best illustration of the mindset of these people. They have no happiness of their own, and since they can’t be happy, you can’t be either. Think about it. what other motivation could this woman have? Every other person in this theater was there because they enjoy this movie and wanted to see it on the big-screen. The only reason she was there was to ruin it for everybody else.
Not to beat the proverbial dead horse, but there is no way on earth you can dislike “King Solomon’s Mines,” especially once you appreciate it for what it is. In that light, despite the protestations of our “social justice dip-shit,” that’s why this movie has aged far better than one might expect. Despite the fact it isn’t the original version of this movie, the 1950 Stewart Granger edition is clearly the one which spawned all those quasi-crap “Allan Quatermain” movies in the 1980s. You also don’t need the FBI Crime Lab to see the Michael Douglas “Romancing The Stone” movies of the same era borrow heavily from “King Solomon’s Mines.” And don’t even try to tell me that “Indiana Jones” isn’t liberally spiced with “Allan Quartermain.”
Having read this far may make you feel like you’ve been on a verbal safari of your own. But again, you were warned today’s sports analogy was well-hidden; it is found in the intersection of that social justice pain-in-the-ass and what makes “King Solomon’s Mines” an enjoyable flick. It’s all about having a realistic perspective.
For those of you who aren’t sports fans, you may not have known that in America we just saw the birth, life, and death of a start-up football league. The Alliance of American Football (AAF) gave us eight weeks of perfectly watchable football…as long as you could appreciate it for what it was. The AAF told you right up-front what it was; a league made to develop talent for the big-dog National Football League. From that alone, there’s no reason anybody should have looked at this league and not clearly understood what you were getting…minor-league football.
The product the AAF put on the field was exactly what somebody being realistic would expect. Talent-wise, it was better than the college game, but not as well-developed as the NFL; again, that’s why it was a developmental league. It wasn’t supposed to be the NFL, but that didn’t stop it’s detractors from being that asshole offering unwanted running commentary during a movie. The difference was I couldn’t figure out what motivated those who simply wanted to shit all over it. I wrote about this league more than once, and guest contributor Joe McGrath is returning shortly to offer his thoughts on what may have brought about the demise of this league, and we both agree why the AAF drew the long-knives of so many in the media who exist to carry the water for the NFL. The AAF forced many people to pull their heads out of the sand and realize why the NFL has been losing viewers for years.
That’s where the Alliance of American Football and “King Solomon’s Mines” are kindred spirits. I won’t steal Mr. McGrath’s thunder with the “nuts and bolts” of the AAF’s issues; they aren’t terribly important here. But what does matter is by delivering exactly what they promised and offering a “warts and all” view, both the AAF and “King Solomon’s Mines” depict things that make some people uncomfortable. The type of people who yammer on in movie theaters and go out of their way to deride minor-league football think they can mitigate the parts of reality they don’t like by denying, ignoring, or sloganeering against them.
Not a fan of wasteful big-game hunting and racism? No rational person is, but rational people also understand there are ugly realities in human nature that are never going away, because human nature hasn’t changed since the dawn of civilization. That’s why engaging in absolutes when it comes to social and cultural mores is an exercise in abject futility. Denying ugly realities only makes the denier feel better; shining a light on the darkest recesses of human nature illuminates the problem for all to see. After all, you can’t have progress unless you have something from which we can agree needs to be left behind, and we understand the practical realities of that progress.
The Moral of The Story:
Engaging in a strategy not rooted in reality guarantees it’s failure, and a wonderful way to remain unenlightened and unhappy is to be unable to appreciate things for what they are by having unrealistic expectations.
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