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Trader Horn (1931 film)

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Title: Trader Horn (1931 film)  
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Subject: W. S. Van Dyke, Irving Thalberg, Edwina Booth, Clyde De Vinna, Elephants' graveyard
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Trader Horn (1931 film)

Trader Horn
Theatrical release poster
Directed by W.S. Van Dyke
Produced by Irving Thalberg (uncredited)
Written by Dale Van Every (adaptation)
John T. Neville (adaptation)
Cyril Hume (dialogue)
Screenplay by Richard Schayer
Based on Trader Horn 
by Alfred Aloysius Horn
Starring Harry Carey
Edwina Booth
Duncan Renaldo
Cinematography Clyde De Vinna
Edited by Ben Lewis
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • May 23, 1931 (1931-05-23) (United States)
Running time 122 mins.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.3 million[1]

Trader Horn is a 1931 American adventure film starring Harry Carey and Edwina Booth, and directed by W.S. Van Dyke. It is the first non-documentary film shot on location in Africa. The film is based on the book of the same name by trader and adventurer Alfred Aloysius Horn and tells of the adventures on safari in Africa.

The film's dialogue was written by Cyril Hume. John Thomas Neville and Dale Van Every wrote the adaption.[2] Trader Horn was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1931. Edwina Booth, the female lead, contracted a career-ending illness while shooting, for which she sued producers MGM.


  • Cast (in credits order) 1
  • Plot details 2
  • Production 3
  • Reception 4
  • Other adaptations 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Cast (in credits order)

Plot details

The movie tells of the adventures of real-life trader and adventurer Alfred Aloysius "Trader" Horn on safari in Africa. The fictional part includes the discovery of a white blonde jungle queen, the lost daughter of a missionary, played by Miss Booth. The realistic part includes a scene in which Carey as Horn swings on a vine across a river filled with genuine crocodiles, one of which comes very close to taking his leg off.


Many accidents occurred during filming in Africa. Many of the crew, including the director, contracted malaria. An African crewman fell into a river and was eaten by a crocodile. Another was killed by a charging rhino (which was captured on film and used in the movie). Swarms of insects, including locusts and tse-tse fly, were common.

Female lead Edwina Booth became infected, probably with malaria or schistosomiasis, during filming. It took six years for her to fully recover from this and other conditions she endured. She retired from acting soon after and sued MGM, which settled out of court.

A sound crew, sent half way through filming, were unable to produce good quality work. This resulted in most of the dialogue sequences being reshot at MGM's Culver City Studio. This caused rumours that the entire production had been filmed there, so most of this footage was cut from the final release. Many animal scenes were filmed in Tecate, Mexico by a second unit to avoid the American laws on the ethical treatment of animals. For example, lions were reportedly starved to promote vicious attacks on hyenas, monkeys and deer.[3]

The actual 'White Hunter' in the film was Lt. Col. W.V.D. Dickinson ("Dicker") OBE MC.


The film made nearly a million dollars in profit.[1]

Other adaptations

This movie has been remade three times as Trader Horn (1934), the sexploitation film Trader Hornee (1970), and Trader Horn (1973) with Rod Taylor in the starring role. Though filmed on the MGM backlot, the 1973 remake used tinted stock footage from the 1931 film.

Trader Horn is the subject of a 2009 documentary Trader Horn: The Journey Back[4] featuring Harry Carey Jr.

See also


  1. ^ a b Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005 p 110
  2. ^ Horn, Alfred Aloysius; Lewis, Ethelreda (1927), Trader Horn; being the life and works of Alfred Aloysius Horn, New York, Grosset & Dunlap,  
  3. ^ "Movieland Goes Roman", Performing and Captive Animals' Defence League circular, 1931
  4. ^ Trader Horn: The Journey Back at IMDB

External links

  • Trader Horn at the Internet Movie Database
  • Trader Horn at AllMovie
  • (Utah) by film historian D. Robert CarterDaily HeraldArticle in
  • Trader Horn at Virtual History
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