Timbuktu (1959 film)

Last updated
Original film poster
Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Written byPaul Dudley
Anthony Veiller
Produced by Edward Small
Starring Victor Mature
Yvonne de Carlo
Cinematography Maury Gertsman
Music by Gerald Fried
Imperial Pictures
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • November 22, 1959 (1959-11-22)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States

Timbuktu is a 1959 American black-and-white adventure film directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Victor Mature and Yvonne de Carlo. It is set in Timbuktu (Africa), but was filmed in the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Kanab, Utah. [1]



In 1940, France is at war with Germany. The French have removed large numbers of troops from their African possessions, leaving the way open for revolt. American soldier of fortune Mike Conway (Victor Mature) sees a chance to pay his way back to the United States by running guns to hostile Tuaregs.

Wearing a slouch hat and bush jacket, Conway is armed with a Thompson submachine gun and a wristwatch with an alarm engraved "From Conway to Conway". He finds himself walking a razor's edge between an anti-French Tuareg leader (John Dehner) keen for Conway's supply of weapons but keener to use his tarantulas on his prisoners, a moderate imam (Leonard Mudie) wanting peace, the local French Foreign Legion commander (George Dolenz), and the commander's attractive wife (Yvonne de Carlo) who Conway cannot keep away from.


Turkish actor Feridun Çölgeçen was credited as technical adviser. Fred Carson acted as both stuntman and Victor Mature's stand-in. [2]


The film was originally meant to be shot on location in colour and widescreen based on an idea of Small and Frank Cavett with Stuart Heisler to direct. [3] Later, there was a script done by Horace McCoy. [4] At one stage, the film was going to be made by the team of Clarence Greene and Russell Rouse, who were making films for Small. [5]

In 1956 producer Edward Small registered several titles for the film, including: East of Timbuktu, West of Timbuktu, North of Timbuktu, South of Timbuktu (a technique of titling films that William Witney described as "boxing the compass"), The Road to Timbuktu, and Timbuktu Theme. [6] However, he eventually settled on the plain title Timbuktu. [7] In 1957, Anthony Veillier signed to write a script. [8]

Mature signed in February 1958. [9] Filming started May 1958 in Kanab, Utah. [10] [11] Parts of the film were shot in the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. [12]

Director Jacques Tourneur claimed that producer Small thought the film was not long enough so he inserted reaction shots of close-ups of various actors all throughout the film. [13]

Edward Small felt so embarrassed by the film that he removed his name from the final credits. [13]

Reception and legacy

Writer and actor Jacques Lourcelles considers Timbuktu to be one of director Jacques Tourneur's very best films. [14]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Victor Mature</span> American actor (1913–1999)

Victor John Mature was an American stage, film, and television actor who was a leading man in Hollywood during the 1940s and 1950s. His best known film roles include One Million B.C. (1940), My Darling Clementine (1946), Kiss of Death (1947), Samson and Delilah (1949), and The Robe (1953). He also appeared in many musicals opposite such stars as Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yvonne De Carlo</span> Canadian-born American actress, dancer and singer (1922–2007)

Margaret Yvonne Middleton, known professionally as Yvonne De Carlo, was a Canadian-American actress, dancer and singer. She became a Hollywood film star in the 1940s and 1950s, made several recordings, and later acted on television and stage.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jacques Tourneur</span> French film director (1904–1977)

Jacques Tourneur was a French film director known for the classic film noir Out of the Past and a series of low-budget horror films he made for RKO Radio Pictures by Val Lewton, including Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, and The Leopard Man. He is also known for directing Night of the Demon, which was released by Columbia Pictures. While in Hollywood, he was usually addressed by his anglicized name "Jack Turner", a literal and phonetic translation of his name in English.

<i>Black Bart</i> (film) 1948 film by George Sherman

Black Bart is a 1948 American Western Technicolor film directed by George Sherman and starring Yvonne De Carlo, and Dan Duryea as the real-life stagecoach bandit Charles E. Boles, known as Black Bart. The movie was produced by Leonard Goldstein with a screenplay written by Luci Ward, Jack Natteford and William Bowers. The film, also known under the alternate title Black Bart, Highwayman, was released by Universal Pictures on March 3, 1948.

<i>The Story of Mankind</i> (film) 1957 film by Irwin Allen

The Story of Mankind is a 1957 American dark fantasy film loosely based on the nonfiction book The Story of Mankind (1921) by Hendrik Willem van Loon. The film was directed and coproduced by Irwin Allen and released by Warner Bros.

<i>Easy Living</i> (1949 film) 1949 film

Easy Living is a 1949 American drama film directed by Jacques Tourneur, starring Victor Mature, Lucille Ball and Lizabeth Scott. The film features the real-life Los Angeles Rams football team.

<i>Casbah</i> (film) 1948 film by John Berry

Casbah is a 1948 American film noir crime musical film directed by John Berry starring Yvonne De Carlo, Tony Martin, Peter Lorre, and Märta Torén. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the song "For Every Man There's a Woman".

<i>Sea Devils</i> (1953 film) 1953 film by Raoul Walsh

Sea Devils is a 1953 colour British–American historical adventure film, directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Rock Hudson, Yvonne De Carlo, and Maxwell Reed. The story is based on Victor Hugo's novel Toilers of the Sea which was the working title of the film. The scenes at sea were shot around the Channel Islands, and much of the rest of the film was shot on location in those islands as well.

<i>Way of a Gaucho</i> 1952 film by Jacques Tourneur

Way of a Gaucho is a 1952 American Western drama film directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Gene Tierney and Rory Calhoun. It was written by Philip Dunne and based on a novel by Herbert Childs.

<i>Something for the Birds</i> 1952 film by Robert Wise

Something for the Birds is a 1952 American comedy film directed by Robert Wise and starring Victor Mature, Patricia Neal and Edmund Gwenn.

<i>Lorna Doone</i> (1951 film) 1951 film

Lorna Doone is a 1951 American adventure film directed by Phil Karlson and starring Barbara Hale and Richard Greene. It is an adaptation of the 1869 novel Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore, set in the English West Country during the 17th century.

<i>The Last Frontier</i> (1955 film) 1955 film

The Last Frontier is a 1955 American Western film directed by Anthony Mann and starring Victor Mature, Guy Madison, Robert Preston, and Anne Bancroft. The film is set during the American Civil War at an isolated army base at the far reaches of the American frontier, where the Indians still far outnumber the whites.

<i>Sombrero</i> (film) 1953 film

Sombrero is a 1953 American musical romance film directed by Norman Foster and starring Ricardo Montalbán, Pier Angeli, Vittorio Gassman and Cyd Charisse.

<i>No Time to Die</i> (1958 film) 1958 British film

No Time to Die is a 1958 British war film about an American sergeant in the British Army during the Second World War. In the US, the film was renamed Tank Force!.

<i>Border River</i> 1954 film by George Sherman

Border River is a 1954 American Western film directed by George Sherman and starring Joel McCrea, Yvonne De Carlo and Pedro Armendáriz.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yvonne De Carlo performances</span>

This is the complete filmography of actress Yvonne De Carlo.

<i>Fort Algiers</i> 1953 film by Lesley Selander

Fort Algiers is a 1953 American adventure film directed by Lesley Selander and written by Theodore St John. The film reused action sequences from Outpost in Morocco (1949) and starred Yvonne De Carlo, Carlos Thompson, Raymond Burr, Leif Erickson, Anthony Caruso, John Dehner, Robert Boon and Henry Corden. The film was released on July 15, 1953, by United Artists.

<i>Calamity Jane and Sam Bass</i> 1949 film by George Sherman

Calamity Jane and Sam Bass is a 1949 American Western film directed by George Sherman and starring Yvonne de Carlo, Howard Duff and Dorothy Hart.

<i>Slave Girl</i> (film) 1947 film by Charles Lamont

Slave Girl is a 1947 American Technicolor adventure comedy film directed by Charles Lamont and starring Yvonne De Carlo and George Brent.

<i>The San Francisco Story</i> 1952 film by Robert Parrish

The San Francisco Story is a 1952 American Western film directed by Robert Parrish and starring Joel McCrea and Yvonne De Carlo. The rough and tumble Barbary Coast of San Francisco is recreated with attention to detail, including Florence Bates as a saloon keeper Shanghaiing the unwary. Noir elements include many shadows, a discordant musical score, snappy dialogue, a disabused hero who resists the good fight, and a femme fatale. A schematic but insightful rendering of political corruption, the film is essentially about standing up to bullies.


  1. "Cedar City Real Estate mountain cabins Duck Creek Village". Utahmountains.com. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  2. "Victor Mature Stunt Double and friend Fred Carson". Victormature.org. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  3. Schallert, Edwin. (Sep 28, 1953). "Drama: Walter Hampden Takes Over Stone Role; Lyle Bettger to Fret Murphy". Los Angeles Times. p. B7.
  4. Schallert, Edwin. (Apr 22, 1954). "Drama: 'Timbuktu' Scheduled as African Epic; Large Jubilee Will Proceed". Los Angeles Times. p. B9.
  5. THOMAS M. PRYOR (Aug 31, 1954). "GREENE AND ROUSE TO MAKE 12 FILMS: They Form Team to Produce, Write and Direct With the Backing of Edward Small". New York Times. p. 26.
  6. THOMAS M. PRYOR (Sep 30, 1956). "HOLLYWOOD SCENE: Producer Jerry Lewis Descants on His 'Delicate Delinquent'--Other Items Purpose Inducement Double Duty Title Tangle". New York Times. p. X7.
  7. "Timbuktu (1959)". Tcm.com. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  8. THOMAS M. PRYOR (Jan 10, 1957). "NEWMAN TO STAR IN MICHENER TALE: Actor and Jean Simmons Will Be in Film Based on Story From 'Return to Paradise' Neame Quits Metro Film Of Local Origin". New York Times. p. 26.
  9. THOMAS M. PRYOR (Feb 18, 1958). "SAMMY DAVIS JR. JOINS 'PORGY' CAST: Will Portray Sportin' Life in Goldwyn Film -- Lee Cobb Signed for 2 Roles". New York Times. p. 23.
  10. "FILM EVENTS: Brynner in Vienna Picture". Los Angeles Times. Apr 30, 1958. p. B7.
  12. James V. D'Arc (2010). When Hollywood Came to Town: A History of Moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton: Gibbs Smith. p. 289. ISBN   978-1-4236-0587-4. Wikidata   Q123575108.
  13. 1 2 Fujiwara, Chris Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall McFarland p.263
  14. Lourcelles, Jacques. "Note sur Jacques Tourneur" . Retrieved 15 June 2021.