I really wanted to like “Killers of Kilimanjaro.” It has a lot going for it: beautiful African locations; adorable baby animals; photography in Cinemascope; exotic people; a suitably tense soundtrack–and Robert Taylor. There is some humor, some action and a woefully underplayed romance.
The main culprit is the script, which passed through the hands of a number of writers, ending up a monotone muddle. Taylor and Anthony Newly labor manfully but even their combined efforts can’t salvage the poor writing.
Another problem is Anne Aubrey. I haven’t seen her in anything else so her work here may not be typical. Aubrey is terminally bland. Her features are not interesting nor is she photographed well. Her emotions are so limited that when she learns her fiancé’s sad fate she shrugs her shoulders and moves on. There are no sparks between her and Taylor.
Nor is Taylor at his best, although he is very effective in the spear throwing scene. He looks hot and tired and his left eye seems to droop. At 48 he is still slim and graceful although obviously too old for the blandly pretty 22 year old Aubrey. Someone like Eleanor Parker would have made the role come alive, but Aubrey can’t.
Just for the visuals, “Killers of Kilimanjaro” is worth a look. Also, the depiction of Arab slave traders and a young boy whose Western inspired awakening to the evils of his family’s trade couldn’t be done in today’s PC world. The conflict between English and German companies in Africa foreshadows the conflicts of the twentieth century.
With a better script and more vigorous direction by Richard Thorpe, “Killers of Kilimanjaro” could have been very entertaining. As it is, Robert Taylor judged it a failure and, reluctantly, I must agree.