King of the Jungle (1933)

Article #1233 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-30-2004
Postind Date: 12-27-2004
Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone and Max Marcin
Featuring Buster Crabbe, Frances Dee, Sidney Toler

A boy who is the only survivor of a plane crash is raised by lions. Years later, he is captured along with the lions and sold to a circus.

This movie starts out as a Tarzan variation, substituting lions for apes, but it comes into its own when the action moves from the jungle into the civilized world. A black-haired Buster Crabbe plays the lion man, who is dubbed with the name of Kaspa (not to be confused with the friendly ghost), and he wears what may be the skimpiest loincloth I’ve ever seen; in fact, the skimpiness of the costume becomes a bit of a running gag once civilization is reached. It’s the animal scenes that steal the movie, though, especially in the grand finale in which the circus catches on fire. Some of the scenes are a great deal of fun; watching Kaspa play-wrestling with one of the lions is a charmer. Some of them are truly exciting; the scene where the elephants escape into the city and start wreaking havoc reminded me of scenes from KING KONG. And some of them are upsetting; there’s a fight between a lion and a bull in the first half of the movie that looks all too real, and one is reminded that animals were not treated as well in the earlier days of cinema as they are now. Still, the movie is quite entertaining, and it has a happy ending. The movie also features Irving Pichel, Douglas Dumbrille, and Sam Baker (Hugo from THE LOST CITY).

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