Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Last Rhino, The (1961)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Last Rhino, The (1961)
35mm, 56 minutes, colour
DirectorHenry Geddes
Production CompanyWorld Safari
ProducerHenry Geddes
ScriptHenry Geddes
PhotographyJohn Coquillon

Cast: David Ellis (David), Susan Millar-Smith (Susan), Tim Samuels (warden), Tony Blane (district commissioner), Shabani Hamisi (Shabani), Mlonga Muli (Baaba), Mithami (M'Pichi)

Show full cast and credits

A boy tries to save a wounded and out of control rhino from both his well-meaning game warden uncle and bloodthirsty Kenyan tribesmen.

Show full synopsis

Shot around 1960 in Kenya's National Park, this film, perhaps unsurprisingly, makes no reference to the violent Mau Mau Uprising and subsequent British military action taken in the period 1952-60. The Mau Mau movement were native Kenyans who rebelled against white colonial rule and killed a number of settlers during their campaign. Kenya's independence would be declared in 1963, but amid this political upheaval, The Last Rhino is, plain and simple, a sentimental tale of children and their love for animals, a popular archetype among Children's Film Foundation output.

Although it may have nothing to say about global politics, the film is certainly educational on the subject of indigenous wildlife, featuring lions and elephants as well as its titular rhino, providing a big screen safari at a time before even Blue Peter (BBC, 1958- ) began television globetrotting. The people of Kenya, first seen tribal dancing in scenes reminiscent of pages from National Geographic magazine, are meanwhile portrayed as rather bloodthirsty natives. The tribesmen are banned from tribal conflict by their colonial masters and those who now wish to replace battle with hunting are seen as untrustworthy, deceitful bad guys while the warden and his young charges are portrayed as steadfast authority figures. There are a small number of Kenyans among the warden's retinue, but chef M'Pichi, for instance, is deployed merely for comic effect.

The acting is basic, with all voices dubbed in studio by other artists (possibly suggesting silent filming). English actor Maurice Denham voices the warden and Scots performer Moultrie Kelsall dubs the District Commissioner.

The real stars of the movie are the animals and the vast panoramas of the National Park, shot in then rare Eastmancolor. Writer/director/producer Henry Geddes had earlier organised the gorilla expedition of MGM's Mogambo (US, 1953) and two years later formed his own company, World Safari Ltd, to handle such overseas filming assignments and second unit shoots. World Safari's first CFF production was Toto and the Poachers (d. Brian Salt, 1954), the first Foundation film made in colour. World Safari also later made Eagle Rock (d. Geddes, 1965) - by the time of its release Geddes had become the CFF's Executive Producer.

Alistair McGown

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. On safari (2:47)
2. The tribespeople's claims (3:52)
3. Stranded (4:32)
Sammy Going South (1963)
Simba (1955)
Where No Vultures Fly (1951)
Astley, Edwin (1922-1998)
Denham, Maurice (1909-2002)
Ngakane, Lionel (1928-2003)
British African Stories
CFF: An Introduction