Timbuktu (1959 film)

For the 1933 British film, see Timbuctoo (film). For the 2014 French film, see Timbuktu (2014 film).

Original film poster
Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Produced by Edward Small
Written by Paul Dudley
Anthony Veiller
Starring Victor Mature
Yvonne de Carlo
Music by Gerald Fried
Cinematography Maury Gertsman
Imperial Pictures
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • November 22, 1959 (1959-11-22)
Running time
91 min.
Country United States
Language English

Timbuktu is a 1959 U.S. black-and-white adventure film set in Timbuktu (Africa) but filmed in the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Kanab, Utah.[1] It was directed by Jacques Tourneur in 1958.


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 gunrunning to hostile Tuaregs.

Wearing a slouch hat and bush jacket, Conway is armed with a Thompson sub machine 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.


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.[2] Later, there was a script done by Horace McCoy.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] However, he eventually settled on the plain title Timbuktu.[6] In 1957, Anthony Veillier signed to write a script.[7]

Mature signed in February 1958.[8] Filming started May 1958 in Kanah Utah.[9][10]

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.[11]

Edward Small felt so embarrassed by the film that he removed his name from the final credits.[11]


Turkish actor Feridun Çölgeçen was credited as technical adviser. Fred Carson acted as both stuntman and Victor Mature's stand-in.[12]


  1. "Cedar City Real Estate mountain cabins Duck Creek Village". Utahmountains.com. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  2. Drama: Walter Hampden Takes Over Stone Role; Lyle Bettger to Fret Murphy Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 28 Sep 1953: B7.
  3. Drama: 'Timbuktu' Scheduled as African Epic; Large Jubilee Will Proceed Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 Apr 1954: B9.
  4. GREENE AND ROUSE TO MAKE 12 FILMS: They Form Team to Produce, Write and Direct With the Backing of Edward Small By THOMAS M. PRYOR. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 31 Aug 1954: 26.
  5. HOLLYWOOD SCENE: Producer Jerry Lewis Descants on His 'Delicate Delinquent'--Other Items Purpose Inducement Double Duty Title Tangle By THOMAS M. PRYOR. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 30 Sep 1956: X7.
  6. "Timbuktu (1959)". Tcm.com. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  7. 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 By THOMAS M. PRYOR. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 10 Jan 1957: 26.
  8. SAMMY DAVIS JR. JOINS 'PORGY' CAST: Will Portray Sportin' Life in Goldwyn Film -- Lee Cobb Signed for 2 Roles By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 18 Feb 1958: 23.
  9. FILM EVENTS: Brynner in Vienna Picture Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 Apr 1958: B7.
  10. WINNING OF THE WESTERN 'LOCATIONS' By ROBERT JOSEPHHOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 Oct 1958: X8.
  11. 1 2 Fujiwara, Chris Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall McFarland p.263
  12. "Victor Mature Stunt Double and friend Fred Carson". Victormature.org. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
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