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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Jungle Jitters at Paramount


The Jungle Princess Is A  1936 Mating Call


This evidently made a big splash when it came out in 1936, status trampled by copies done afterward. Paramount wanted their own jungle franchise to shade the Tarzan series out of Metro. Para's were less action than sex oriented. Too bad the Code vitiated much of erotic possibility. Censor records show dialogue hamstrung by need to keep relations between titular Dorothy Lamour and exploring (only not exploring her) Ray Milland on purest up and up. Boredom was the outcome lest animal violence filled gaps, but The Jungle Princess falls down for having but one tiger, and he's tamed by her. A first-reel elephant stampede is lifted bodily from Cooper-Schoedsack's previous Chang. Did viewers who got that thrill back in 1927 recall it still? Some might cry foul, but then coming to see a thing called The Jungle Princess might have been gamble enough, as in deserving what you got, or didn't get.






Baboons attack a hostile village preparing to roast Lamour-Milland, except shots don't necessarily match, and I couldn't figure out just what sort of animals, or stuffed props, were being hurled against straw huts, or miniatures made to look like same. Effects were still catch-as-catch-can, like when stars interact with the tiger, only not so convincingly as when Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn did so two years later in Bringing Up Baby. Publicity was naturally all about Dorothy Lamour. "Put Real Animals In The Lobby," advised the pressbook, without spelling out mechanics, or safety measures, called for by such a display. Lamour was a gentler turn on Edwina Booth's Trader Horn character, being right away taken with Milland as interloper to her paradise and an eager partner to embrace. Adolescent boys plus men surely went daffy for this, a given for follow-ups, nearly identical, that Paramount did right up to, and through, the war, all enhanced by Technicolor, which trend-setter The Jungle Princess did not have. Too much monkeyshines (as in tiring chimps) would infect follow-ups, indeed rival Tarzans as well, as jungle pics became less for grown-ups. If anything turned me off these as a child, it was ape antics that were never funny and ate up footage like termites. The Jungle Princess is lately out from Universal's Vault and looks very nice.

7 Comments:

Blogger Kevin K. said...

Monkeys and tigers running around a theater lobby. Interesting idea. Wonder why I never heard of anyone doing that.

2:16 PM  
Blogger DBenson said...

The MGM Tarzans recycled shots, stunts, and whole sequences just a film or so later and evidently got away with it. The first of the series milks some genuine Africa footage from an earlier project, mostly with simple intercutting but with an occasional optical effect to put the explorers in an African village

Serials got away with outrageous cheats on a weekly basis, so I'm guessing a B movie series coming around less frequently could use stock footage with some impunity. Something really striking might ring a bell, like that elephant stampede, but even there viewers would be hard pressed to swear it was the same film, especially if the editing was clever.

As a kid fan of the 60s Batman show (first two seasons), it wasn't until daily syndication that I realized how much bat-vehicle stuff was repeated in almost every episode. Arguably part of the comedy, but it was at once a disappointment and a revelation.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Tommie Hicks said...

A kid watching these "jungle films" could get the false impression that most African men, wearing shabby loincloths, spent their days sitting on the shore waiting for western expeditions to show up so they can laboriously and dangerously carry the white men's junk through the interior of Africa.
I saw one of these films, perhaps a Tarzan, where a man carrying a huge box for the expedition, slips and falls off the narrow cliff path, falling a great distance to his death (does everyone scream when they fall great distances?). The overseer of he expedition clucks his tongue and exclaims "There goes a whole month of medical supplies!"

9:47 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer recalls the promise of a live gorilla on stage:


I went to a "spook show" at our local theater that offered a "live Gorilla" carrying away a buxom blonde. At least, that's what I was told. The house lights were pretty dim and I had only a vague impression of someone running down the aisle. All safe guards were evidently in place that afternoon. The double feature, for which I was to receive a "free Pass," if I lived through it, had degenerated by show time to one picture, "Francis in the Haunted House," which I handled well enough, even to tell the tale today, but, needless to say, there was no pass, free or otherwise.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

So for the 30 years I've been going to Chicago's Music Box, there has been a poster for this movie by the sinks in the men's room. I always wondered about it... may just have to get the DVD.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

The use of stock footage from previous films in a series can get really debilitating. I once sat through an all night festival of AIP Poe films in which scenes from each previous film appeared in the next one and the one after that used stock shots from the ones that preceded it. This gets really frustrating with Universal's monster films in which, as the series goes on, stock shots are layered on stock shots on stock shots. Wally Wood's basic rule in comics is don't draw what you can trace, don't trace what you can paste. In movies the rule is don't film what you can paste from what went before. Since the movies have always been short on cash this is a smart rule. 1962's TOWER OF LONDON with Vincent Price uses stock footage from Universal's 1939 TOWER OF LONDON which had Price as well. Then we have THE THREE STOOGES over at Columbia lifting stock shots galore at the end of the series. Might not look like it to fans but that's smart film making. It's not inspired film making but then very little is.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Tommie Hicks said...

When Pernell Roberts left BONANZA another character named Candy showed up. Coincidentally Candy wore the same garb as Adam Cartright. This was done so the show's producers could still use stock footage that had Pernell Roberts in it.

9:20 AM  

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