Thursday, June 23, 2016

Stanley and Livingstone

In a post from last week, I related how my habit of watching movies from the 1930's and 40's on Youtube had introduced me to the novelist George Agnew Chamberlain. At the time of that writing, I had been able to find only one (free) ebook of Chamberlain's work - Through Stained Glass - and had read 20% of that novel on Kindle. Having finished Through Stained Glass, I am not nearly as impressed with the novel as I was at the 20% marker.

I mentioned in the same post that I had downloaded two novels by Jack London, The Call of the Wild and White Fang. I've finished reading The Call of the Wild, having thoroughly enjoyed the ebook.

A few days back, I watched the 1939 classic film, Stanley and Livingstone starring Spencer Tracy. The wikipedia article regarding the film says that it's "based loosely upon the true story of Welsh reporter Sir Henry M. Stanley's quest to find Dr. David Livingstone". No truer words have ever appeared on wikipedia than the words "based loosely".

After watching the film, I downloaded Henry Stanley's book, How I Found Livingstone from the Project Gutenberg website. I haven't finished reading this one yet, but so far, the only similarity I can find between the book and the film is that both have a character named Stanley who travels to Africa to look for Dr. Livingstone. Other than that, I don't believe the script writers actually read a single page of Stanley's book.

At the beginning of the film, Stanley is found among the Indians in Wyoming and returns to New York city to meet the publisher of the New York Herald newspaper. In the novel, Stanley is in Spain, the publisher in Paris. In the film, there is a rivalry between the Herald publisher and the publisher of the London Globe. No such rivalry exists in the book. Do I even need to mention the love interest created just for the movie?

The characters portrayed by Nancy Kelly, Richard Greene and Walter Brennan do not appear in the novel and were created out of whole cloth for the film.

If one enjoys movies from the 1930's, Stanley and Livingstone is entertaining, if one doesn't require 100% accuracy in your "historical" films. Stanley's book might be entertaining for those interested in history of the 1870s.

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