Mogambo (1953)

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Released 14-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Trailer-Matchstick Men
Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1953
Running Time 111:19 (Case: 116)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (73:17) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By John Ford

Warner Home Video
Starring Clark Gable
Ava Gardner
Grace Kelly
Donald Sinden
Philip Stainton
Eric Pohlmann
Laurence Naismith
Denis O'Dea
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Although I am not as old as this film is, I can admit to liking films of this era, when the big stars came out to play and films were about characters and plot despite being set in exotic locations. Accordingly, I was keen to review this disc.

    Mogambo was made in 1953 and stars the 'devilishly handsome' (according to one of his male co-stars) Clark Gable who at the time was in his early 50s but still looked svelte and youthful. As you would expect he plays the macho romantic lead in this film. There are two female leads in the film, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly, with both vying for Gable's attention. Both of them were nominated for Academy awards for their performances and Grace Kelly won the supporting actress Golden Globe. If you ask me though, Ava Gardner is the standout.

    The film is set in deepest, darkest Africa and focuses on the safari and animal export business of Vic Marswell (Clark Gable). He has never married and runs the business with two white employees and a large group of Africans. The employees, who both play important roles in the film, are the cultured John Brown-Pryce (Philip Stainton) known to all as Brownie and the oafish Leon Bolchak (Eric Pohlmann). Eloise 'Honey Bear' Kelly (Ava Gardner) arrives at the start of the film to meet up with a Maharajah, who unfortunately had left a week before she arrived. She is a jet setting woman of the world, who is independent and feisty. There is an immediate attraction between her and Marswell despite their verbal sparring, including the great line 'Don't go getting all overstimulated on me' from Kelly. Into this mix comes Mrs Linda Nordley (Grace Kelly) and her husband Donald (Donald Sinden), an anthropologist who has paid Marswell to take them on safari. They wish to see the mountain gorillas, but as this involves a long and arduous journey through tsetse fly country, Marswell is not keen. He changes his mind after finding himself attracted to the prim, proper but very attractive Mrs Nordley. He decides to take them on safari in order to continue his relationship with Mrs Nordley, who seems to return his affections. Obviously, the plot finds a way for Kelly to tag along and this sets the film up for various showdowns and romances whilst traversing the dangerous heart of Africa.

    I found this film very enjoyable despite being an obvious star vehicle. The screenplay is very good with lots of great one liners and verbal barbs between all three of the leads. The action sequences have not aged well with the gorillas obviously being nowhere near the cast (not even on the same continent I would guess). The light levels and plants are completely different between the shots of the gorillas and the shots of the actors, who are supposedly scared of them. The only thing that appears in the same frame as one of the actors appears to be a rug but it is supposed to be a dead gorilla. Some of the other animals such as the big cats do appear to actually be in the same place at the same time. The movie was filmed in various locations in Africa but significant amounts were also done in a studio in London. It was directed by the great western director, John Ford.

    If you like films of this era, or the stars involved, this one is enjoyable and well worth seeing. Recommended.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is surprisingly good for a film of this age.

    The feature is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio non-16x9 enhanced which is probably the original aspect ratio or very close to it. I do not have information about the original aspect ratio of this film but it may have been the academy ratio of 1.37:1.

    The picture was reasonably clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. As is normal with films of this vintage, close-ups of the female leads are quite soft. There was grain noticeable throughout. It was mostly light, but got heavier in some scenes, especially where foreground characters were superimposed on location backgrounds, which happened quite often. One example of this is at 54:40. Shadow detail was quite good in most parts but one scene involving the Nordleys in their tent was quite dark, but this may have been by design.

    The colour was excellent throughout especially considering the age of the film. There was some minor colour bleeding from candles and the like and Grace Kelly's teeth looked green at 42:39. I also noticed a brief spot of colour separation at 71:48.

    There were significant film artefacts present during this movie, mostly small black specks and lines. Generally they were not too bad, however, they were more noticeable in some scenes such as at 20:57.

    There are subtitles available in 7 languages plus English & Italian for the hearing impaired. I sampled the English ones and they were clear, easy to read and close to the spoken word.

    The layer change occurs at 73:17 and includes an obvious pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is reasonable but fairly quiet.

    This DVD contains three audio options, an English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and the same in French & Italian. I found that I needed to turn the sound up 10dB from my normal listening level for the dialogue to be comfortably heard. There was some minor distortion during a scene involving loud native chanting at 74:40.

    Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand but occasionally a little muffled.

    This film contains very little music, mostly just native chanting and there is no music credit.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer are not used..


Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu included music, photos from the film and the ability to select scenes or subtitle streams.

Theatrical Trailer (3:14)

    In the style of the time, this trailer contains a very excited, shouting voiceover telling us how it the latest and greatest spectacle and that it is Gable's greatest role since Gone With The Wind! Having said that it's not a bad trailer overall.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This movie is available in Region 2 in exactly the same format. It does not currently seem to be available in Region 1.


    This disc contains an entertaining romantic actioner from the early 1950s starring Clark Gable, Ava Gardner & Grace Kelly.

    The video quality is good considering the age of the film.

    The audio quality is reasonable.

    The only extra included on this disc is a theatrical trailer unless you count the annoying advertisement for Matchstick Men which you are forced to watch between choosing your language and getting to the menu.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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