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Law of the Jungle

USA 1942
produced by
Lindsley Parsons for Monogram Pictures
directed by Jean Yarbrough
starring Arline Judge, Mantan Moreland, John King, Victor Kendall, Feodor Chaliapin jr, Arthur O'Connell, Laurence Criner, C. Montague Shaw, Guy Kingsford, Martin Wilkins
written by George Bricker, additional dialogue by Edmond Kelso

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Stranded in Africa without a passport, Brooklyn-bred Nona (Arline Judge) has taken on a job as singer at shady Simmons' (Arthur O'Connell) hotel. When Simmons & his 2 even shadier partners Groszman (Victor Kendall) & Beltz (Feodor Chaliapin jr) - quite fittingly for the time identified as Nazis - kill a British agent for some important papers, Nona decides to escape into the jungle on her own to avoid trouble & soon meets up with the expedition of paleontologist Larry Mason (John King) & his butler Jefferson Jones (Mantan Moreland).

At first, Larry is less than happy to have her on his team too, but soon Nona's charms work on him, & he even shakes Grozman & Beltz - who are after her since someone has slipped the important papers of the British agent into her coat unbeknowest to herself - off her trail. Still, Groszman & Beltz do not give up easily, & they soon team up with the local native tribe, who promise to track down the fugitive girl for them. To escape them, Nona, Larry & Jefferson hide in a hidden cave that turns out to be an ancient natives' tomb - but when it also turns out to be the home of a big gorilla, they have to make another escape ... right into the natives' clutches.

In the natives' camp, they await certain execution, until the natives' chief Mabongo (Laurence Criner), who turns out to be an Oxford-educated African, makes friends with Jefferson, & the two find out that all of Jefferson's Harlem-style behavioural patterns (pretty much Moreland's typical parody of racial clichés) have their roots in Mabongo's tribe.

Now the tables are turned on  Grozman & Beltz, who soon become prisoners of the tribe, while Nona & Larry are left off into a romantic future together ...

 

Very low budget jungle thriller, shot on cheap less-than-convincing jungle sets & not even relying on jungle-wildlife stock footage to create the illusion of a real jungle - which is just as well though, since badly inserted jungle footage more often than not destroys the illusion rather than contributing to it -, come to think of it, apart from the man in the gorilla suit, there's no wildlife at all in this movie. Also, the plot is less than thought through, & the finale, despite being funny, does not really work as a conclusion for the story.

On the plus side though, Arline Judge makes a spunkier than usual leading lady, & Mantan Moreland delivers another funny performance - though from today's point of view his racial comedy (rather a parody of racial stereotypes) might be considered less than politically correct (despite the fact that he was quite popular with black audiences back then).

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD