“There were at least a dozen people at that party who Monica Madison hurt on the way out; each one of them had a good reason to kill her.”
An off-duty cop (Lawrence Tierney) who has spent the night drinking heavily and can’t remember his actions tries to clear his name by investigating the mysterious murder of an actress (Eve Brent), who was last seen with gossip columnist Claude Almstead (John Carradine). Meanwhile, a caricaturist (Burt Kaiser) who has been cheating on his wife (Kathleen Crowley) with a blonde vamp (Jayne Mansfield) thinks he may have important information about the murder.
This low-budget noir-thriller was the directorial debut of character actor Bruno VeSota, who starred in several of Roger Corman’s AIP flicks (including Bucket of Blood) — but it’s perhaps even more notable as the first significant screen appearance of Jayne Mansfield (who was paid $150 for her work, and promptly went back to her job selling popcorn). Unfortunately, it’s a flawed film: the screenplay is muddled, with too many characters introduced as potential suspects; the ending is frustratingly vague (just when we think things are resolved, another twist is hinted at); and the acting is uneven (Crowley as the artist’s wife is particularly bad). Yet the entire affair is at least partially redeemed by a couple of noteworthy performances (Tierney and Carradine), and an effectively dark-and-dirty B-level atmosphere; as noted in the Spinning Image review (see link below), Female Jungle takes place entirely at night, with neither dusk nor dawn to signal the presence of daylight life.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Effective noir cinematography
- Lawrence Tierney as the guilt-ridden cop
- John Carradine as Almstead
- Jayne Mansfield as “Candy” — no great actress, but exuding sexual allure
- Plenty of juicy B-level dialogue between Mansfield and Kaiser:
“With or without violins, I’d call this a brush-off.”
“You and I just don’t add up together.”
“You’re lying — just like the phony paint on yer face!”
“You’re good for nothing, but I’m crazy for you.”
No. While notable as Mansfield’s first significant on-screen appearance, this one is for B-budget noir fans only.