East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Passion in Swahili

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50pelisantesdemorirmogambogracekellyavagardnerThere is a very quick personality test that’s pretty popular and well-known1.
It basically goes like this – choose your favorite Beatle.
Everybody knows the Beatles, and choosing is not that difficult.
Based on their choices, you can profile pretty easily the people you meet.
It works.

Another test, that is somewhat more limited but equally good at discriminating between groups goes like this:

You are Clark Gable in Mogambo – do you choose Ava Gardner or Grace Kelly?

Get the answer to that, and you’ll know a lot of things about the person standing in front of you – a lot of them impossible to define in any other specific way2.

For the uninitiated, Mogambo is a 1953 movie by John Ford that has been aptly described as an adventure movie without adventure.
And it goes like this:

Now, as I mentioned somewhere else, I love Mogambo.

Mind you, there’s a ton of proper adventure movies I like better, but Mogambo has Ava Gardner as Eloise “Honey Bear” Kelly in it – and i have a weakness for seriously independent, down-to-earth women.
And Eloise is all that – and gorgeous too, and cheerfully promiscuous.
Stranded in the jungle with tired white hunter Victor Marswell (Gable), she is not hard to catch at all – quite the opposite of goody-two-shoes (but ultimately available, and quite angsty about it) Linda Nordley (Kelly).


That’s the gist of the story – a manly man (and not in his prime anymore) undecided between the soft charms of Ava Gardner and the colder, more prim and proper allure of Grace Kelly.

There are days, believe me, I wish I had that kind of problem in my life.

According to general Hollywood wisdom, Kelly turned out a lot easier to seduce than Gardner – and indeed she had an affair with gable during the filming of Mogambo, and afterwards.
One wonders about the tension between the leads, in this old movie.

tumblr_mxc8wq9jBK1rc0soco1_500Despite its ultimate silliness, the movie is outstanding for mise-en-scene, and for the fantastic location shots.
A lot of the African footage filmed for Mogambo is today the last surviving testimony of the songs and dances of the peoples of Kenya, Uganda and Congo.
Being directed by John Ford, Mogambo is good, straightforward fun – and if the action is limited compared to the torments of Gable trapped in his unlikely love triangle, the execution is perfect as ever.

And then, yes, there is Ava Gardner, possibly at her most gorgeous.
And I think there’s no need for me to tell you my reply to the test.

What does the Mogambo Test actually single out?
Work that out for yourselves – it’s part of the fun of the test.

Oh, and just in case, Mogambo means Passion in Swahili – the sort of information that might come handy, sooner or later.

  1. I guess I found out about it in Tom Robbin’s Still Life with Woodpecker
  2. I have to thank my friend Lilla Pop for leading me to this very interesting test. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

One thought on “Passion in Swahili

  1. Pingback: A traveler to exotic parts | Karavansara

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