The unusual amalgam of documentary maven Robert Flaherty and pure-entertainment producer Zoltan Korda resulted in the 1937 money-spinner Elephant Boy. In his screen debut, eleven-year-old Indian-born Sabu plays the title character, a mahout named Toomai. When his father is killed by a tiger, Toomal is left alone and unprotected and not long afterward loses his beloved elephant to a sadistic "driver." Stealing back the pachyderm and heading into the wilderness, Toomal stumbles across a herd of wild elephants, which the British government has long been seeking. With visions of a huge reward in his head, Toomal offers to lead the authorities to the elusive herd -- whereupon the "dramatic" portion of the story gracefully gives way to the "documentary" portion. More intriguing than entertaining, Elephant Boy was nonetheless one of the most successful films of its kind.
by Hal Erickson synopsis