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candid shot of Rita and Prince Aly Khan the day before their marriage Champagne Safari

A Jackson Leighter Associates Production (1952)
Released by Defense Films

Produced, Directed and Photographed by Jackson Leighter

Narration written by Larry Klingman

Featuring:
Rita Hayworth
Prince Aly Khan
Jackson and Lola Leighter

Color, 60 mins. running time


Nowadays known as "The Lost Film of Rita Hayworth", Champagne Safari (also known as Safari So Good) came about when Prince Aly Khan invited Jackson and Lola Leighter along on he and Rita's extended trips through Africa to keep Rita company. They were old friends of Rita's, and Aly and Jackson got the idea of making a documentary film. Jackson brought his equipment and filmed their travels throughout Africa and the Far and Middle East. This is not a movie. They are like home movies, originally shot in color (though now available only in black and white due to film deterioration). You don't hear them speaking. Instead, there is narration as you see footage of Rita, Prince Aly Khan, The Leighter's and the natives of the places they visit. There are no glamorous costumes, there's Rita looking comfortable in jeans and a sweater, sightseeing, there's Rita joking around for the camera, and showing that she was just as beautiful off screen as she was on.

The Champagne Safari begins through Pompeii and continues in Athens, where they view the Acropolis. Next the travelers are off to Egypt to meet Prince Aly Khan. Nairobi is the next stop, where they meet Aly's people and see how the natives live. After that they visit various Ismaili communities where the Prince and Princess are paid homage everywhere they go. Later, the journey continues with the Leighter's going to Kenya. Aly and Rita are supposed to meet them there but by then their personal problems had escalated, and she stayed behind while Aly went to Kenya. The documentary ends with Rita and the Leighter's heading back to America. The marriage was over. Rita ended the more than three month long trip and headed back to Hollywood.

Unfortunately, Rita and Aly's marriage reached the end of the road during the making of Champagne Safari. Rita sailed back to America. Her ship docked in New York harbor on April 2, 1951. Even though the marriage had ended, the footage Leighter photographed was later made into a 60-minute color documentary film and given limited theatrical release. Given the advertising campaign of "The Second Honeymoon of the two most talked about lovers in the world!", it played for a time in a few theaters. It didn't do very well, but it's interesting footage of one of the century's most celebrated couples.

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