Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Jorge in Sao Paulo, Martin in Derry & Colin, and Donal.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Naked Jungle, another 1954 treat

THE NAKED JUNGLE was scheduled for afternoon tv, the day that Eleanor Parker, its star, had died, so naturally one had to watch it again. Its a totally enjoyable meller/programmer of that early '50s era when movies with exotic locations were popular, 1954 alone saw Charlton in THE NAKED JUNGLE and down Machu Picchu way in SECRET OF THE ANDES, Grace Kelly was also looking very tailored down in her South American plantatation where they go looking for emeralds in the programmer GREEN FIRE; 1953 saw Elizabeth Taylor replacing Vivien Leigh out in Ceylon for ELEPHANT WALK, while in 1955 Barbra Stanwyck was in ESCAPE TO BURMA
Most of these had second unit photography while the stars emoted at the studio blacklot, cleverly intercut with the location footage, as in Fox's '54 WHITE WITCH DOCTOR where Robert Mitchum and Susan Hayward were not actually in Africa - ditto Susie with Clark Gable in that very studio bound Hong Kong in SOLDIER OF FORTUNE in 1955.1954 and '55 too was that great era for costume pictures, biblicals, peplums and adventures - SIGN OF THE PAGAN, THE SILVER CHALICE, KING RICHARD AND THE CRUSADERS, THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH, PRINCE VALIANT, THE EGYPTIAN, THE PRODIGAL, LAND OF THE PHAROAHS  while 1955 had the the simply glorious MOONFLEET and QUENTIN DURWARD, for me the high points of the 50s cosume drama, while Cecil delivered those TEN COMMANDMENTS in '56 and King Vidor helmed an interesting WAR AND PEACE, and Burton was ALEXANDER THE GREAT.

But lets look at THE NAKED JUNGLE (see Heston label for SECRET OF THE INCAS). Here Chuck is the plantation owner in a very convincing Central American setting, who after building his plantation himself sends for a mail-order bride so he can start a family. Enter the very cool Eleanor, but she is a widow - not quite what Chuck wants. 
They antagonise each other but Eleanor is no pushover .... she plays the piano ("the best pianos are those which are played often") and cooly waits for his desire - but an army of ants are also on the move and the plantation is in their path .... can our warring couple work together and destroy the ants before they wipe out the planation? This is perfect matinee fare and an ideal afternoon movie anytime, very well done, directed by Byron Haskin and Philip Yordan had a hand in the script. Heston and Parker play it perfectly. One to enjoy then.

3 comments:

  1. The Naked Jungle is a good Saturday matinee time passer right next to King Solomon's Mines and the like.

    Soldier of Fortune could have been better if the original plan to actually film in Hong Kong could have gone forward. Apparently Susan wanted to take her sons along to share the experience with them but was embroiled in a very nasty divorce and custody battle with Jesse Barker-husband number one and when he threw up legal blockades she refused to go and it ended up being shot on the backlot and being rather weak. A shame she and Gable never got to be in a film worthy of them, they were an interesting match.

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  2. The Naked Jungle…if only…wink, wink!

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  3. Indeed - and Susan had tested for GWTW ! She and Gable deserved a better movie than the potboiler that is Soldier of Fortune.

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