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Nor The Moon By Night (1958)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Two British ex-pat brothers, Andrew and Rusty Miller, run and live in Velaba Park, a wildlife reservation in Africa. For three years, Andrew has corresponded with Alice Lang, a Home Counties girl who has spent most of her adult life nursing her elderly mother. When her mother suddenly dies, Alice resolves to visit Andrew. Her older half-sister, Harriet, disapproves, jealous of Alice's new freedom. Rusty, a divorcé, is cynical about Andrew's newly-announced engagement to Alice, especially since they've never met. But Andrew, excited about her arrival, sets out to Duiker's Drift train station to meet her.

On his way he finds a group of poachers burning land and making Biltong, a dried meat delicacy. Andrew confronts the landowner, Anton Broyslawski. The Boryslawski family make Andrew welcome, but Anton threatens Andrew with his pet lioness, Sheeba, to stop him making untoward accusations. Anton's daughter, 17-year-old Thea, has heard about Alice's arrival and is jealous. She is delighted when Andrew is called away from his appointment to attend to a herd of elephants in danger of straying off the reserve. Andrew summons other gamekeepers and asks Rusty to collect Alice.

At Duiker's Drift, Alice is disappointed with Rusty but agrees to accompany him to find Andrew. They discover yet more Biltong, and a beaten gamekeeper, Amos, whose injuries appal Rusty, but are nursed by Alice. Afraid that the attack will spread superstition, Rusty is unaware Amos was attacked by poachers working for the village chief, White Elephant, himself controlled by Anton. The two camp at a nearby base, where Alice flirts with Rusty and they kiss.

The elephants are soon returned to the reserve, but Andrew has to stay overnight at a different camp. He visits Chief White Elephant, who denies knowledge of Amos's attack and the growth in Biltong trading, but later, when Anton refuses to pay the chief adequately for his poachers, he confesses his involvement. Andrew visits Anton to ask him about his illegal activity, only to discover he's lied to his family. Disappointed, they reject him and he threatens everyone with Sheeba. Andrew switches on the Boryslawskis radio to broadcast the events to the park. He updates Rusty on the news, but struggles when left to talk to Alice. Alice starts to have doubts about coming to Velaba.

The following day, Andrew sets off to meet Rusty and Alice when a snake falls into his car and he crashes. Injured, he stumbles across a pride of lions that attack him before he finally escapes up a tree. Meanwhile, Rusty and Alice go to the tribal village to see Chief White Elephant and tell Oasis, Amos's wife, what has happened to her husband. She asks the village witch doctor to create a paper lion - a spell that curses whoever it is given to - and in a vengeful retort, the Chief tells Oasis to plant it on Anton.

After Anton uses his whip on his wife, Thea and her mother leave, only to find Andrew's crashed car. Thea gallops to Rusty's house, where he and Alice have now arrived, and all three rush to find Andrew. The crashed car explodes, starting a bush fire and scaring away the lions circling Andrew. He is discovered by a gamekeeper and returned to Rusty's house, just as a tropical storm arrives to extinguish the fire.

At Rusty's house, an odd foursome develops. Andrew and Alice are afraid to tell each other they want to break their engagement. Thea forces Andrew to confront the issue, but when he hesitates, she runs back to Anton's. Rusty, meanwhile, comes to Alice's aid when the local sergeant radios her arrest because Harriet is accusing her of negligence in their mother's death. Grateful for his support, she agrees to leave Andrew for him.

Thea, approached by her depressed and bullish father, is faced with violence when she rejects him. Andrew arrives in time to protect her, but Sheeba comes out as they leave. Despondent, Anton sulkily collapses, only to find Oasis' paper lion, and the lioness suddenly attacks him.

Andrew and Thea kiss and decide to set up home. They radio Rusty, who tells them Alice's charges have been dropped, and they all agree on a double wedding.