MAMBA 1930

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline
User avatar

Changsham

  • Posts: 793
  • Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:34 pm

MAMBA 1930

PostTue Nov 22, 2011 5:53 pm

I went to see MAMBA at the Astor Theatre in Melbourne last Monday night for its first public viewing in perhaps eight decades. The film was preceded by a lengthy presentation by Jonas Nordin and Paul Brennan on the finding and history of this film. It was mentioned that this film was offered to some American film archive which I can't remember the name of many years ago but was rejected. The AFI I think. It was also mentioned the Australian Film Archives damaged the film sprocket holes and that they had made a 16mm copy of it many years ago. The film was shown complete but I got the impression the digital print was perhaps of the 16mm copy. The picture was somewhat fuzzy and colours muted. The sound was typical for the period. It appears the original print survives in very good condition with no visible signs of nitrate damage though it does need to be restored along with the sound discs. There were a few blacked out frames as is typical in Vitaphone sound films.

MAMBA was quite enjoyable and played out exceptionally fast. It was obvious this was an expensive production for the time. Made by Tiffany Studios and directed by Albert S Rogell. I got the impression that this film was perhaps originanly intended to run for far longer than 78 minutes. A still was shown from the wedding scene that was deleted from the film. And the way the story unfolded it was clear that many other scenes had been cut or edited out pre release. If the plot was properly fleshed out I would have expected a the film to run to about 100 minutes. One scene was cut by local censors but the sound and dialogue still continued. The missing scene was filled with stills from an earlier scene

The photograhy for the film was very good with some great atmospheric shots and crisp editing not often seen in early talkies. A lot of the of the action is filmed out doors and has an authentic sweaty jungle feel. The sets were well done. The opening tracking shot was brilliant. The elevated Technicolor camera snaked through an entire village. The dialogue was hessitant as typical in these transitional talkies but not overused as often done during the period. There is mood and marching music, jungle rhythms and singing on the soundtrack.

The story is about a wealthy but revoltingly crude German landowner Augustus Bolte (Jean Hersholt) in German East Africa circa 1913 who seeks respectibility by marrying the daughter(Eleanor Boardman) of an an aristocrat who owes him money. However the match is a disaster ands she falls for a dashing handsome officer(Ralph Forbes). The content is classic pre code and includes swearing in German which would never have been allowed if it was spoken in English. There is also lots of racism in this film, a native rebellion and battle scenes.

The Acting was quite bad except for Jean Hersholt who dominates this film from start to finish. He is at his oily unwashed best here. This will rank as one of his better if not best ever performance. There were audible audience reactions to his acting in the theatre. Eleanor Boardman alternated between being just decorative and anguished or both, Ralph Forbes was classic wood. Better lines would have helped their roles. Wil Stanton as the servant was quite entertaining.

Overall this is an oddball film. Unlike anything else made at the time. Should to be be restored and given the prominence it deserves as a landmark film.
Last edited by Changsham on Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
Offline
User avatar

Dr Hackenbush

  • Posts: 1
  • Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:22 pm

Re: MAMBA 1930

PostTue Nov 22, 2011 7:21 pm

I have a LC from the film. Alas, I've not had an opportunity to see the movie it's from :(

Image
Offline

earlytalkiebuffRob

  • Posts: 2791
  • Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:53 am

MAMBA (1930)

PostWed Dec 18, 2013 6:57 am

I was interested to find out that the Technicolor movie MAMBA (1930) from Tiffany was extant and that a few extracts had been uploaded on YouTube. Is there any chance the whole film will be made available in the near future? I think it has been shown in America but not over here in England. I read about it some years ago (possibly in FORGOTTEN HORRORS) and was intrigued in such a film getting the Technicolor treatment...
Offline
User avatar

David Alp

  • Posts: 887
  • Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:58 am

Re: MAMBA (1930)

PostWed Dec 18, 2013 10:14 am

Offline
User avatar

s.w.a.c.

  • Posts: 1683
  • Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 2:27 pm
  • Location: The Land of Evangeline

Re: MAMBA (1930)

PostWed Dec 18, 2013 10:17 am

It also screened at Cinefest in Syracuse a couple of years back (forget the exact year). Check some of the Cinefest roundup threads for some viewer reaction to the film.
Twinkletoes wrote:Oh, ya big blister!
Offline

earlytalkiebuffRob

  • Posts: 2791
  • Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:53 am

Re: MAMBA (1930)

PostWed Dec 18, 2013 1:06 pm

Thanks for this, some very useful and interesting info here. And as I have recently managed to see VIENNESE NIGHTS (1930), RIO RITA (1929), THE BLACK WATCH (1929), THE RACKET (1928), HELL HARBOR (1930) and PARADISE ISLAND (1930) to name just a few, I have every hope of catching up with MAMBA eventually. Seeing these films properly is difficult at the moment but catching up via dvd and YouTube is certainly an excellent second best and provides more films in my line than local venues, some of which have less than ideal presentation...
Offline
User avatar

Changsham

  • Posts: 793
  • Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:34 pm

Re: MAMBA (1930)

PostWed Dec 18, 2013 4:48 pm

I have seen it a couple of years ago in its unrestored state. A good transitional film but not great.The film elements are in very good nick and worthy of a full restoration. The sound needs some modern enhancement. The camera work is creative but the acting apart from Jean Hersholt is terrible. He is at his greasy slimy best playing a role not unlike he did later in HELL HARBOR.

Return to Talking About Talkies

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests