The Naked Jungle (1954)

 Run Time: 95 min. | colour
Director: Byron Haskin
Stars: Eleanor Parker, Charlton Heston, Abraham Sofaer, William Conrad
 Genres: Drama | Adventure | Thriller
Storyline
Heston and wife Parker are besieged in their remote South American plantation by an advancing army of red ants that are slowly making their way through the jungle, cutting a path of

4 Comments

  1. IMDBReviewer

    August 1, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Given the fact that this is the Fifties and the Code was coming to an end, this is still a remarkably erotic film, almost Tennessee Williams like in its treatment of sexual issues.

    Charlton Heston's Christopher Leiningen could have been created by Tennessee Willlams. He came to the South American jungles as a teenager and built up a plantation out of the jungle and it took him over 15 years to do it. He now decides to get himself a wife and begat some children.

    Heston says so quite frankly he has pointedly refrained from indulging any lust with the native women because in his society there'a a nasty name for whites who do so. In keeping with his Tennessee Williams like character, he's from New Orleans so his attitude to darker skinned people is understandable.

    He has his brother put in an advertisement for a mail order bride and Heston can't believe his luck when the drop dead gorgeous Eleanor Parker shows up on his door. She's not what you would picture a mail order bride to be. But then marital problems arise when he discovers she's a widow, used goods as the common phrase was back in the day.

    Parker has a few of her own issues and that and Heston's inexperience in these matters lead to a rocky start and almost an ending. But then come the ants.

    As District Commissioner William Conrad says, every generation or two something puts ants in the ants pants and up they come out of their ant hills and go on the march destroying every scrap of life before them. And man has found no way to stop them.

    The ants kind of make everyone come together in a crisis. What they do is some of the most frightening stuff ever put on film.

    If The Naked Jungle were made today it would be far more explicit about all the sexual problems than this version was. There might be better special effects. But you won't get better players than you will in Charlton Heston and Eleanor Parker as leads.

    Unless they resurrected Tennessee Williams to write the screenplay.

  2. IMDBReviewer

    August 1, 2017 at 11:39 am

    THE NAKED JUNGLE is based on Carl Stephenson’s story "Leiningen Vs The Ants." There was at least one excellent radio adaptation in which William Conrad (who has a supporting role in this film) played Leiningen. The first half of this screen adaptation is pretty ordinary, centering around the romantic problems of Heston and his mail order bride Ms. Parker. When the ants arrive, this film really takes off. One scene where the ants devour a drunk down to his bones must of looked pretty shocking in 1954.

    This film was reviewed in a 1954 issue of The American Museum of Natural History magazine, where the reviewer, an entomologist, stated that while single ant colonies do migrate, and can wreck havoc, migrations of multiple colonies, as in this film, do not occur in real life. Phew! Thats good to know!

  3. Anonymous

    August 1, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Before Charlton Heston faced the Red Sea, the Apes, and the anti-gun folks, he was in this picture, where he takes second billing to the Marabunta (sic), army ants that want to eat his plantation. His other problem is his knockout mail order bride with whom he is having trouble communicating. With Heston at his most passionate, running the emotional ladder from A to B, it's hard to tell. Nevertheless, I saw this movie with my sister when we were about 9 or 10 and movies cost 15 cents. We would hide behind the seat in front of us each time the skeletal remains of the alcoholic guy showed up (we sat through the movie four times). The rest of the theatre shrieked. The movie is really a lot of fun. Those ants are a menace which, like the shark in Jaws, don't really have anything personal against us–they are just hungry and eating everything in their path. Heston must find a way to combat them or lose everything he has. As a teenager, one of my top ten short stories was "Leinengen Versus the Ants." This does justice to the story although I don't remember anything about the "experienced" young woman he finds himself with. I chanced upon this film on AMC one day and I was totally caught up in it. Give it a chance. It will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you're looking for a fully developed dramatic piece, forget it.

  4. IMDBReviewer

    August 1, 2017 at 11:39 am

    You don’t hear the word `jungle’ much these days … Somehow, `The Naked Rainforest’ doesn’t do it for me. Say `the naked jungle’ softly to yourself, and the images that come to mind will give you a good idea of what to expect. No, sadly you won’t see the naked Eleanor Parker – this is 1954. But there IS a particularly erotic scene, all things considered…

    Okay, maybe a trillion omnivorous ants weren’t what you expected, either. Consider them a bonus. This is the story of a mail-order bride and a wealthy plantation owner (the sort of character likely to be played by Charlton Heston) who come to fall in love with each other partly because of savage external forces (ants), and partly, to be honest, because there’s not much else to do in the middle of the jungle. The extended coda in which they must fight tooth and nail to save the plantation from ruin is thus not tacked on to the romance, but an integral part of it. And it’s exciting even if you don’t give a fig for the love story.

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