Naked Jungle, The (1954)

“Frankly, you’re not what I expected.”

Naked Jungle Poster

Synopsis:
A churlish, virginal cocoa plantation owner (Charlton Heston) in South America spurns his new mail order bride (Eleanor Parker) when he learns she’s a widow “with experience”. Can Parker win his heart in time to join forces against a marauding army of killer ants?

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary recommends that viewers “forget the boring romance between [the] two uninteresting, poorly played” protagonists in this George Pal production “and hang on until the exciting second half of the picture”, when “armies of flesh-eating red ants march through the jungles and devour everyone in sight”. Unfortunately, the first “half” feels much longer than this, and the finale — while reasonably impressive for the era — is no reason to stick around, especially given that you’ll have to put up with blatantly racist, colonial drivel such as the following, when Parker is offered a young boy as her personal servant:

“You want him?”
“What about his family?”
“Oh, they glad to lose boy. Make plenty.”

At least the laughably melodramatic interactions between Heston (never more wooden) and Parker provide some unintended chuckles, as do the ongoing metaphorical allusions to Heston’s piano: “If you knew anything about music, you’d know that the best piano is one that’s been played.”

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine Technicolor cinematography
    Naked Jungle Cinematography

Must See?
No; skip this one unless it sounds like your cup of tea.

Links:

One Response to “Naked Jungle, The (1954)”

  1. Not must-see.

    I know I saw this on tv when I was a kid. It’s the kind of thing that would have gotten a lot of play at that time. It’s basically a sort of mix of ‘Them!’ and ‘The African Queen’ (both also from this era).

    But it’s not nearly as interesting as either of those films. And, at least for a kid, the excitement does come way too late. (‘Them!’ is more successful as a scary movie – since the creatures appear almost from the beginning.)

    One might have expected a better script from the likes of reliable pros like Ranald MacDougall and Philip Yordan (unless this was one of the many assignments that Yordan farmed out to others; quite possible). As a love story, it’s dull; as a monster movie, it’s more silly than anything else.

    Bottom line: in agreement, this one really can just be skipped. Heston’s acting is not bad in a fun way – and Parker (who is usually not bad, whether over the top or not) is only asked to be earnest.

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