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Golden Dawn

(1930 b 83')

En: 5 Ed: 4

Adapted from an operetta by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein, a woman is made a goddess by an African tribe during the war until a British soldier frees her.

In East Africa during the world war Mooda (Alice Gentle) sings that her daughter Dawn (Vivienne Segal) is going to marry a god. German captain Eric (Otto Matieson) guards British prisoners. Shep Keyes (Noah Beery) sings and cracks his whip. Shep tells Mooda he wants Dawn but won't reveal she is white. Shep grabs Pigeon (Lupino Lane), and Tom Allen (Walter Woolf King) stops him. Eric stops them from fighting, and Dawn throws Shep's whip aside. Eric says he needs Shep to control the natives. Dawn sings why she is glad. Men say that Tom has sex appeal, but Blink (Lee Moran) is jealous of Johanna (Marion Byron) with Duke (Dick Henderson). Eric tells Tom to leave. Duke asks Johanna to marry, and she sings "I'll Make a Good Wife." Tom asks Dawn to go with him and sings "Dawn," but she must be a goddess.

Pigeon tells Tom they are lost. Natives dance to consecrate Dawn, and Mooda sings to Dawn about right and wrong. Shep finds Pigeon and knocks him down. Tom finds Dawn. Shep tells Tom to leave, and they fight. Tom wins and tells Shep to stay away from Dawn. Tom sings to Dawn. Eric discovers Pigeon at the gate. Shep tells Eric if Tom steals Dawn, the natives will revolt. Shep says Tom was with Dawn. Eric tells Shep to arrest Tom, who tells Eric he loves Dawn. Eric sends Tom with nine prisoners to England, replacing Duke, who must stay. Dawn hears the prisoners singing and tells Mooda that Tom will come for her. Shep keeps Tom behind and warns him with a gun. Shep says he will get Dawn, but Tom says he is coming back. Mooda and Dawn see Tom go. Mooda says, "Woman gives and remembers; man takes and forgets." Dawn sings "My Bwana."

Within a year the British take East Africa. Pigeon sings and dances. Natives suffer from drought and come to Col. Judson (Edward Martindel), who forbids sacrificing Dawn. Tom returns for Dawn and tells Col. Judson that she is white. Col. Judson asks for proof. Johanna tells Blink she wants a rough man, and he shows he is a tiger. Tom goes to Mombaza to find Mooda. Duke sings to Mooda "I'll Make You My Wife." Dawn's white father finds Mooda, who resents he left her because she is half black. He stabs Mooda, and Tom says he is too late. At Dawn's sacrifice Tom is captured, saying Dawn is white. The Sacred Maid (Nina Quartero) accuses Shep of loving her. The chief plans to sacrifice Shep and her; but British soldiers arrive, and it rains, ending the drought. In the final scene Tom and Dawn go on a honeymoon.

This musical reflects current racist stereotypes as the British and German imperialists fight a colossal war but look with contempt at Africans who might sacrifice one person for their god. Saving the white victim confirms the white audiences' feelings of superiority. The mixed Mooda is hurt by white prejudice and wants her daughter to be considered black.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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