Sanders Of The River

188. SANDERS Of THE RIVER (1935-England). With PAUL ROBESON, LESLIE BANKS. Directed by ZOLTAN KORDA. Based on the story by EDGAR WALLACE. “Africa . . . tens Of millions Of natives under British rule, each tribe with its own chieftain, governed and protected by a handful Of white men whose everyÂday work is an unsung saga Of courage and efficiency.” This relentlessly imperialistic tribute lo the glories Of British colonialism in Africa features the legendary Haul Robeson in perhaps his most embarrassing role. As Bosambo, chief Of the Ochori tribe, he is completely dedicated, and subservient, to District Commissioner Sanders, who gives the King’s law and keeps the peace in the river country. Sanders, known affectionately by the servile natives as “Lord Sandy,” treats them in turn as his (Often misguided) “black children”. When the old warrior king, MOfolabaÑsupplied with liquor and rifles by scheming while tradersÑgoes to war with the British, Bosambo rallies his tribesmen in support Of the Empire. Despite the film’s blatant pro-colonialist stance (which actually makes it fascinating as a quaint period piece), the beautiful location photography and exciting montages make you feel part Of the stirring action. And when Robeson performs his militaristic songs (“On, on, into battle! Make the war drums rattle! Mow them down like cattle!”), his magnificent deep voice almostÑ but not quiteÑoverwhelms any uneasiness one might have with the film’s subject. 86 minutes. Drama