Tuesday, February 14, 2017


After a lecture he's given about his African jungle adventures, Jim Franklin, procurer of wild animals, is approached by the drunken millionaire Amos Stitch. Stitch wants to finance a trip to Africa and have Franklin bag a few animals for his own private zoo, and of course Stitch wants to go along. Franklin somewhat reluctantly agrees, and Stitch insists they leave the next morning. They board the ship with Stitch, still—and always—inebriated, paying, on a whim, to have a taxi driver and cab brought along for the ride. In Africa, they hire the brutish German guide Vernuth to lead them into the jungle. They also hear stories, which they dismiss as folktales, about a white jungle goddess living with a tribe of natives, but of course, the stories prove to be true: there is a savage Girl (never named) who doesn't speak English but can commune with jaguars and chimps. When the men trap a lion, the Girl steals into their camp that night and frees it, but she herself falls into another trap and is caught. (Considering her supposed savageness, it's odd that her only weapon—and talent—seems to be an ear-piercing shriek.) When Vernuth tries to have his way with her, Franklin steps in, kicks Vernuth out, and cozies up less violently to the Girl. The rest of the tale is of Vernuth's attempted revenge; he gets some natives to kidnap Franklin to use him as a sacrifice. Can the drunken millionaire and the not-so-adventurous taxi driver save the day?

This low-budget indie was, I imagine, rushed into production to benefit from the success earlier in the year of MGM's TARZAN THE APE MAN. Like most B (or below) adventure films, a lot of stock footage of jungle animals is used to make us think we're somewhere besides a studio in Hollywood—and as in most cases, it doesn't really work. But the bigger problem here is the Savage Girl herself—both as a character (she's mostly passive and uninteresting despite apparently being a "goddess") and as an actress (in later films like ISLAND OF DOOMED MEN, Rochelle Hudson is fine but here her acting consists of empty looks and screaming). Her leading man, Walter Byron as Franklin, isn't terribly inspiring, and Harry Myers as the Stitch is a one-note drunk. The best performance is given by Adolph Milar as the German villain. Strangely, the movie opens with a crawl advising us to just relax and have a good time—did they really think anyone above the age of 7 would mistake this for a documentary, or a complex analysis of social issues? Not a total waste of time, but not really worth searching out. Pictured on the poster above, from left, are Milar, Byron and Hudson. [YouTube]

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