February 26, 2017


West of Zanzibar – 1954 | 94mins | Adventure, Drama | Colour

Plot Synopsis

West of Zanzibar

The success of Where No Vultures Fly tempted Ealing into making a sequel which, in the tradition of sequels, was far less enticing than the original. West of Zanzibar appeared in the spring of 1954, with Sheila Sim replacing Dinah Sheridan in the role of Mary Payton. The theme this time was the effect of urban Africa on natives forced by drought and soil erosion to leave their tribal lands and resettle near Mombasa. But it quickly turns into an adventure yarn about ivory smugglers off the coast. Game ranger Bob Payton (Anthony Steel) makes it his mission in life to capture the head of a vicious ivory-smuggling racket. Payton tracks his quarry through some of the most treacherous passages of the Zanzibar territory.

Despite such obstacles as crocodiles and rhinos, Steel finally corners the villain. There is an attempt to get across a message that the Africans are too immature to manage their own affairs and need benevolent white men to protect them from exploitation. Consequently it was banned in Kenya, even though the director argued that his film was firmly on the side of the Africans. Undoubtedly the work’s motives were sincere, but Ealing paternalism won out once again. Taken on the level of adventure, with a reprise of the wild life close-ups from the earlier film, West of Zanzibar is acceptable entertainment, but as a message of enlightened counsel for black Africa, it is a non starter.

Extract© George Perry: Forever Ealing.

Production Team

Harry Watt: Director
Jim Morahan: Art Direction
Paul Beeson: Cinematography
Peter Bezencenet: Editing
Alan Rawsthorne: Music
Leslie Norman: Producer
Jack Whittingham: Script
Max Catto: Script


Anthony Steel: Bob Payton
Sheila Sim: Mary Payton
William Simons: Tim Payton
Orlando Martins: M’Kwongwi
Edric Connor: Ushingo

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