GenreAdventure ScreenplayBen Roberts, Ivan Goff LanguageEnglish
WriterIvan Goff, Ben Roberts Release date1 July 1953 Based onWhite Witch Doctor
by Louise A. Stinetorf CastSusan Hayward (Ellen Burton), Robert Mitchum (John 'Lonni' Douglas), Walter Slezak (Huysman), Mashood Ajala (Jacques), Joseph C. Narcisse (Utembo), Timothy Carey (Jarrett) Similar moviesSusan Hayward appears in White Witch Doctor and Woman Obsessed
White witch doctor 1953 trailer
White Witch Doctor is a 1953 Technicolor adventure film made by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by Henry Hathaway and produced by Otto Lang from a screenplay by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, based on the 1950 novel by Louise A. Stinetorf. The music score (notable for its use of the serpent, an obsolete instrument) was by Bernard Herrmann, and the cinematography by Leon Shamroy.
The film stars Susan Hayward and Robert Mitchum, also featuring Walter Slezak, and was set in the Belgian Congo in 1907.
The arrival of nurse Ellen Burton to the Belgian Congo is unwelcome to hunter John "Lonni" Douglas (Robert Mitchum), who captures animals for zoos. He warns her against traveling upriver to join a female doctor who is working with native tribesmen.
Short of money, Lonni is intrigued when partner Huysman (Walter Slezak) tells him there is gold to be found in the region where Ellen will be traveling. Lonni volunteers to accompany her, along with gun bearer Jacques.
Ellen (Susan Hayward) is a widow who once discouraged her physician husband from his dream of coming to Africa to give medical aid. She talks a witch doctor out of killing a woman with an abscessed tooth. Upset with her, the witch doctor places a deadly tarantula in Ellen's tent.
The doctor she is there to assist has died of fever. The king is pleased when his son is saved from a lion by Lonni, his wounds treated by Ellen, but then the king takes her hostage when Huysman, heavily armed, arrives to search for gold. Huysman's men knock Lonni unconscious and tie him up, but Jacques sacrifices his own life to save that of Lonni, who returns to Ellen's side for good.
Robert Mitchum as Lonni Douglas
Susan Hayward as Ellen Burton
Walter Slezak as Huysman
Timothy Carey as Jarrett
Henry Hathaway filmed footage in Africa, but the majority of the film was shot on Fox's studio backlot. The head of 20th Century Fox Darryl F. Zanuck demanded that [Emily] Louise Allender Stinetorf's (who had been a Quaker missionary in Palestine) original story be jettisoned for action and a love story.