WriterJames Hill, Bill Travers Release dateU.K.:
10 April 1971
U.S.A. (New York City):
17 April 1971
Love game an elephant called slowly howard blake
An Elephant Called Slowly is a 1969 Morning Star Productions Ltd. feature film starring Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna as themselves in a story about the couple's real-life adventures with three young African elephants while house-sitting in Kenya. George Adamson (of Born Free), makes an appearance as himself. The soundtrack features several well-known musical numbers by Bert Kaempfert. The film was written by Travers and director James Hill, and has been released to VHS and DVD.
The film begins with Travers and McKenna leaving their home in England to caretake a house in Africa belonging to a friend scheduled for lengthy medical treatments in Switzerland. Arriving in Nairobi, they are met by Mr. Mophagee (Vinay Inambar) who has arranged transport for the couple - an old Land Rover Series 2 which becomes something of a character in the film. After buying food supplies in a local market, the couple traverse a wilderness populated by a variety of wildlife—wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, ostrich, and crocodile—to their friend's house 150 miles distant from Nairobi. There, they cope with the house's primitive amenities including a kitchen in a truck, not to mention their temperamental Land Rover which seems to have a mind of its own.
One morning, the couple rise to find three young elephants lumbering about the grounds and wreaking havoc "like juvenile delinquents". The couple name the two largest elephants Kadengi and Jaspar, and the smallest one pole pole (Swahili for "Slowly Slowly"). The couple visit Game Wardens George Adamson and Charles Mutiso (Ali Twaha) who suggest the couple have been "adopted" by the three elephants and recommend they make friends. At home, pole pole has moved in and made herself comfortable; the couple create a wallow on the grounds for her, travel to the river for a swim, and take evening walks with her. When their house-sitting duty comes to a close, Travers and McKenna are confident the three elephants will join a herd in the vicinity. Cast includes Joab Collins as Henry, and Raffles Harman.
The film contains several instrumental numbers by Bert Kaempfert:
"A Swingin' Safari"
Additional music was composed and conducted by Howard Blake.
Although Howard Thompson of The New York Times found the first half-hour slow, he thought Travers and McKenna "personable", and approved the film for children's writing, "It's ideal for the 4- to 11-year age bracket." The critic also noted, "the picture is a tame, dramatically uneventful affair, nowhere near as finished or forceful as Born Free. Frail and even rambling in structure, the picture edges purposefully into the wilds for some magnificently authentic animal footage...The only jolt, handled discreetly, is the sight of some jungle wild dogs finishing off a gazelle."