Stanley and Livingstone

Overview

Twentieth Century-Fox borrowed Spencer Tracy, from MGM for the sprawling yet economically produced historical drama Stanley and Livingstone. Tracy plays 19th-century American journalist Henry M. Stanley, an adventure-prone sort who is assigned by his editor Henry Hull to locate lost Scottish missionary David Livingstone Sir Cedric Hardwicke in darkest Africa. There are perils aplenty before the inevitable meeting in the clearing, capped by the immortal courtesy "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" Though seriously ill, ...
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Overview

Twentieth Century-Fox borrowed Spencer Tracy, from MGM for the sprawling yet economically produced historical drama Stanley and Livingstone. Tracy plays 19th-century American journalist Henry M. Stanley, an adventure-prone sort who is assigned by his editor Henry Hull to locate lost Scottish missionary David Livingstone Sir Cedric Hardwicke in darkest Africa. There are perils aplenty before the inevitable meeting in the clearing, capped by the immortal courtesy "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" Though seriously ill, Livingstone is content ministering to the natives, declining Stanley's invitation to return home. Upon arriving back to civilization, Stanley tells his story of Dr. Livingstone, but without tangible proof, he is accused of perpetrating a fraud. Only at the very last moment is Stanley vindicated; at this point, he decides to go back to Africa to continue the late Dr. Livingstone's work. This didn't happen in real life, nor is the studio-dictated romance between Spencer Tracy and Nancy Kelly completely copacetic with the facts; outside of this, Stanley and Livingstone comes pretty close to living up to Fox's ad-campaign slogan "The Most Heroic Exploit the World Has Known."
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Stanley and Livingstone is perhaps more faithful to its historical source than most Hollywood biopics, but even so it completely whitewashes the character of Henry Stanley. This is particularly true at the end, when Stanley returns to Africa, presumably a changed (and religiously inspired) man. It's totally false as history, but it makes for a great movie; for once, the studios' insistence on adding significant amounts of fiction to their fact-based products produced good drama. And Stanely is definitely a good drama, as well as a rousing adventure and an intriguing character study. The team of screenwriters have crafted a narrative that is totally engaging and peopled it with characters that leave their impressions on you, none more so than the two title characters. Henry King has directed with finesse, making sure that there's an excellent balance of action, adventure and inspiration, and even making the extraneous romantic subplot work fairly well. Of course, he's aided enormously by Spencer Tracy's towering yet nuanced performance. Tracy gets to play it both rough and pious, the adventurer and the thinker, the amoralist and the moralist, and he does so superbly. No other actor could combine gusto with restraint in the way that Tracy could, and watching his transformation from the beginning of the film to the end is a true treat. Cedric Hardwicke is also in top form as Livingstone, celebrating the man's deep religious faith without ever commenting upon it. The supporting cast is good, the cinematography evocative (even if the rear screen projections are occasionally obvious to modern viewers). All in all, Stanley is a joy to watch.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/20/2012
  • UPC: 024543850106
  • Original Release: 1939
  • Rating:

  • Source: Fox Mod
  • Presentation: B&W / Pan & Scan
  • Time: 1:40:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 14,143

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Spencer Tracy Henry M. Stanley
Nancy Kelly Eve Kingsley
Cedric Hardwicke Dr. David Livingstone
Richard Greene Gareth Tyce
Walter Brennan Jeff Slocum
Charles Coburn Lord Tyce
Henry Hull James G. Bennett, Jr.
Henry Travers John Kingsley
Miles Mander Sir John Gresham
David Torrence Mr. Cranston
Paul Stanton Capt. Webb
Holmes Herbert Frederick Holcomb
Brandon Hurst Sir Henry Forrester
Hassan Said Hassan
Paul Harvey Col. Grimes
Russell Hicks Commissioner
Frank Dae Commissioner
Joseph Crehan Morehead
Robert Middlemass Carmichael
Frank Jaquet Senator
Clarence Derwent Sir Francis Vane
Everett Brown Bongo
Jack Clisby Mombay
Tom Coleman Corporal
Vernon Dent Newspaperman
William Dunn Chuma
Harry Harvey Man
James McNamara Committeeman
Frank Orth Man with Pills
C. Montague Shaw Sir Oliver French
Emmett E. Smith Susi
Richard Stanley Lieutenant
Emmett Vogan Bennett's Secretary
Billy Watson Copy Boy
William Williams Mace
Technical Credits
Henry King Director
George Barnes Cinematographer
R.H. Bassett Score Composer
Robert Russell Bennett Score Composer
Russell Bennett Score Composer
David Buttolph Score Composer
William S. Darling Art Director
George Dudley Art Director
Philip Dunne Screenwriter
Sam Hellman Original Story
Julien Josephson Screenwriter
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Hal Long Original Story
Kenneth MacGowan Producer
Barbara McLean Editor
Cyril Mockridge Score Composer
Alfred Newman Score Composer
David Raksin Score Composer
Royer Costumes/Costume Designer
Rudy Schrager Score Composer
Louis Silvers Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Darryl F. Zanuck Producer
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