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Sunday, August 4, 2019

Nor the Moon by Night ( 1958 )

"The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night." - Psalm 121:6 

After years of caring for her mother, gentle nurse Alice Lang ( Belinda Lee ) decides to fly out to Kenya to marry gamekeeper Andrew Miller ( Patrick McGoohan ). Alice has never met Andrew but they have been corresponding with each other by mail for years and she feels she knows him inside and out. She picks an inopportune time to come to Kenya, for a vicious game poacher ( Eric Pohlmann ) is stirring up trouble on the reserve and Andrew is out on the job trying to catch the culprit. Since he will not return for several weeks, his younger brother ( Michael Craig ) decides to be host to Andrew's mail-order bride and falls in love with her himself.

After Andrew is attacked by a lion, Alice nurses him back to health and then must decide whether to marry him out of loyalty or choose his brother, whom she now loves.....

Nor the Moon by Night was based upon Joy Parker's novel of the same name which was originally serialized in a woman's magazine in the 1950s. As a pulp fiction romance adventure, it is a witchdoctor's brew of all of the elements one would expect to find in such a story: elephant stampedes, cobra attacks, a romantic quadrangle, jealousy, dangerous villains, jungle fever, bush fires, and, of course, native superstitions. 
Director Ken Annakin, who had a success with the similarly themed The Planter's Wife ( 1952 ), never lets the 90-minute film get dull and follows each exciting event with something new and different. It was sumptuously filmed on location ( by cinematographer Harry Waxman ) in the beautiful Valley of the Thousand Hills in Natal, South Africa and also within Kruger National Park. Unlike many jungle films of the era, Nor the Moon By Night has no stock footage of crocodiles scurrying into the lake or blurry hippopotamuses fording a river. All of the animal scenes was clearly shot with the cast and crew on location.

Behind the camera, events were just as exciting as on-screen with Belinda Lee attempting suicide, Patrick McGoohan incurring a concussion, Michael Craig nearly drowning, Anna Gaylor falling ill with dysentery and the crew being constantly bitten by snakes and spiders. 
"Most people think Africa's a zoo, where you chuck a monkey under the chin and then go off for a martini."

The principal players of Nor the Moon By Night all give very good performances, especially Michael Craig and Belinda Lee, two extremely popular actors of the 1950s who are underrated today. Also in the cast is Anna Gaylor, a lovely French actress, Joan Brickhill, and Lionel Ngakane.

This post is our contribution to the 6th Annual Rule Brittania Blogathon being hosted by Terence Canote on his blog, A Shroud of Thoughts. Click here to read more reviews of classic British films!

7 comments:

  1. Wow, there could be a movie about making the movie. Another one I'll have to check out one of these days.

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  2. I will definitely be on the lookout for this movie, as I'm a fan of both of the male leads. The beginning of your synopsis had me thinking of THE NAKED JUNGLE (a favorite) unless you mentioned the other brother. I'm not very familiar with Belinda Lee.

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    1. Belinda Lee was a good actress but underrated because of her looks. Once you see her in this film, you'll start spotting her all over the place.

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  3. I will have to check this out sometime! The cast sounds amazing, what with both Michael Craig and Patrick McGoohan in the same film! Anyway, thank you for taking part in the blogathon!

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    1. It's a good one, I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for hosting this event, Terence!

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