Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Sheila Ryan and Bob Waterfield
JUNGLE MANHUNT (1951). Director: Lew Landers.

Photojournalist Anne Lawrence (Sheila Ryan) has come to Africa to search for Bob Miller (Bob Waterfield), a former war hero and football player who vanished into the jungle 9 years before. Miller seems to enjoy playing, as Ann puts it, "Great White God" to the natives, but he seems much more benign than certain "skeleton men" -- wearing black uniforms with skeletons painted on them -- who are decimating villages and enslaving many of the natives. Dr. Heller (Lyle Talbot) has cooked up a scheme to mine radioactive igneous rock that can be turned into valuable industrial diamonds. This is one of the better Jungle Jim adventures, with our hero (Johnny Weissmuller) leading Anne and Bob into isolated territory where they encounter a 100 foot lizard that battles a "sailback" crocodile in stock footage, not all of which seems to have come from One Million B.C. Bob Waterfield was a hunky former quarterback who was married to his high school sweetheart, the famous Jane Russell, for twenty-five years. Although he has an appealing personality in this, good looks and a fine physique seemed to be his chief assets and he only appeared in three films; Jungle Manhunt is the only one in which he actually played a character -- he later became head coach for the Los Angeles Rams. Sheila Ryan [Hideout] is a welcome and perky presence in the movie, and Lyle Talbot [The Vigilante], who gets a great death scene, gives a better performance than usual. Rick Vallin, cast again as a native, spends much of his time dealing with chimp Timba. At one point he seems a bit exasperated with his or her antics but on other occasions he certainly acts like he's charmed by the scene-stealing ape, who gets a lot of footage. The shark vs octopus stock footage that we see in so many movies also reappears in this one.

Verdict: 100 foot lizards, pretty gals and football players -- all in one movie! ***.

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