Skip to content

Simba (1955)

The shocking scene that opens this tale of British farmers in Kenya sets the tone for what is to come in a harrowing struggle of racial tensions starring Dirk Bogarde and Virginia McKenna.

Following the suddenly violent opening leaving a man killed, Bogarde arrives by plane in Kenya to renew his romance with McKenna and visit his brother’s farming operation only to find upon arrival that it is his brother who has been murdered. It becomes an us against them story. Black vs. white and not being well versed in the historical aspects of the film, I’m looking at it as just that. A well made movie with an interesting story to tell.

Bogarde understandably finds his racial prejudice rising when confronted by the black workers and McKenna’s close friend and co-worker, Joseph Tomelty, an educated native who serves as Doctor to the poor, the farm hands and tribesman. It’s his own father who is leading a rogue group of natives laying a trail of blood and murder among the many white farmers who own the lands. Bogarde is going to soon find himself taking sides with Virginia’s parents, Basil Sydney who along with his wife, Marie Ney, farm the lands but treat their workers more like slaves then equals. He urges Dirk to “treat them like children.”

I do admit to finding quotes like that astonishing in a bad way but back to the movie….

“I love you. Not even a war can alter that.”

So says Dirk in the classic melodramatic part of our story and his strained relationship with Virginia due to Dirk’s increasing racial comments and lack of trust towards Tomelty. Dirk comes around to believing that his brother was to lenient in his own relationships with his black workers and that’s what led to his assassination at the hands of the rebels. When another couple are killed in a violently brutal display of machete work for cinemas circa 1955, the dye is cast for a confrontation between white and black and for Bogarde a internal torment will have to find peace if he is to stay on in Africa and work his brothers lands with his betrothed.

Racially charged and violent for the times, Simba was directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and in part, on location in Kenya aside from interiors back in the confines of Pinewood. Hurst may not be a name that stands out amongst other fifties directors though his early years date back to working with John Ford but there’s a good chance you’ve seen his holiday classic, A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sim. Hurst is seen here on set with Bogarde.

Miss McKenna had already appeared in The Cruel Sea and The Horse’s Mouth before moving on to titles like Born Free and believe it or not is still active at this time in 2017. Bogarde is an actor I’ve come to later in life which proves there are always movies and careers to learn about in my never ending desire to see and learn more about film history. I’ll also point out that as a kid when you are beginning to learn about a subject, crazy ideas and notions set in. Bogarde’s name is so close to Bogart that I laughed him off much the way I laughed off John Payne who had the misfortune of a name that rhymed with ……..

Good film made in color with one line that stands out and probably always will. Yes we can substitute the words within for others but the sentiment will forever ring true.

“We must learn to live side by side. Black and white and make it a better world.”

Looking for a copy of Simba? The copy I acquired is a DVD release trough VCI.

4 Comments »

  1. A highly interesting account of a movie I’ve not seen — many thanks.

    As I understand it (I may be misremembering), Bogarde himself was way ahead of his time by being fiercely anti-racist. I’ve always assumed this was because, due to his own (concealed) sexuality, he’d learned what it was like to be irrationally discriminated against by daft bigots.

    I went to school with a white Kenyan who’d lived as an infant through the Mau-Mau years there, and even he admitted — although he nonetheless regarded them as terrorists — that the black rebels had a point.

    • I don’t know much about Dirk off screen so keep thinking I should grab a bio. I believe he wrote one on himself as well. Ugly subject matter that repeats itself I suppose around the globe. Sadly.
      Worth a look if you get the chance.

  2. Not seen this yet either, although I have a copy somewhere.
    I remember musing on the similarity in sounds of Bogarde’s name to that of Bogart when I was a youngster too. He was a familiar face to me all along though, probably due to the number of British films that were screened regularly on TV back then, and of course he was still working in those years.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

CINESPIRIA

Shining a light on the deep recesses of film history

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"For me, cinema is a vice. I love it intimately." Fritz Lang

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

CINESPIRIA

Shining a light on the deep recesses of film history

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"For me, cinema is a vice. I love it intimately." Fritz Lang

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

%d bloggers like this: