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Trader Horn is the first non-documentary film shot on location in Africa. The 1931 movie tells of the adventures of real-life trader and adventurer Alfred Aloysius "Trader" Horn on safari in Africa. It featured many authentic shots of African wildlife and a great deal of inauthentic plot. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1931. Edwina Booth, the female lead, contracted a career-ending illness while shooting, for which she sued producers MGM.

The film was written by Cyril Hume (dialogue), John Thomas Neville, Richard Schayer and Dale Van Every and Ethelreda Lewis, and directed by W.S. Van Dyke. It was based on a popular book of the time, Trader Horn, by Alfred Aloysius Horn.

In 1973 the film was remade with Rod Taylor in the starring role. Though filmed on the MGM backlot, the remake used tinted stock footage from the 1931 film.


Plot details

The movie tells of the adventures of real-life trader and adventurer Alfred Aloysius "Trader" Horn on safari in Africa.The fictional part includes the discovery of a white blonde jungle queen, the lost daughter of a missionary, played by Miss Booth. The realistic part includes a scene in which Carey as Horn swings on a vine across a river filled with genuine crocodiles, one of which comes very close to taking his leg off.

Production details

Many accidents occurred during filming in Africa. Many of the crew, including the director, contracted malaria. An African crewman fell into a river and was eaten by a crocodile. Another was killed by a charging rhino (which was captured on film and was used in the movie). Swarms of insects, including locusts and tse-tse fly, were common.

Female lead, Edwina Booth, became infected, probably with malaria, during filming. It took six years for her to fully recover from this and other conditions she endured. She retired from acting soon after and sued MGM, which was settled out of court.

A sound crew, sent half way through filming, were unable to produce good quality work. This resulted in most of the dialogue sequences being reshot at MGM's Culver City Studio. This caused rumours that the entire production had been filmed there, so most of this footage was cut from the final release.

Many animal scenes were filmed in Tecatemarker, Mexicomarker by a second unit to avoid the American laws on the ethical treatment of animals. For example, lions were reportedly starved to promote vicious attacks on hyenas, monkeys and deer.The actual 'White Hunter' in the 1931 film was Lt.Col W.V.D. Dickinson ("Dicker") OBE.MC.

2009 Harry Carey Jr hosts "Trader Horn: The Journey Back" now in post-production. A journey back to the making of "Trader Horn."

See also


  1. Trader Horn Trivia at the Internet Movie Database

External links

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