Forbidden Jungle (1950)

FORBIDDEN JUNGLE (1950)
Article #1364 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-8-2005
Posting Date: 5-7-2005
Directed by Robert Emmett Tansey
Featuring Don C. Harvey, Forrest Taylor, Alyce Lewis

A hunter is offered a great deal of money to go into the forbidden jungle and bring back a boy that is rumored to be running loose there.

Fantastic content: The jungle boy is able to read the minds of animals. He also seems to be able to read the mind of the hunter, but since the hunter has a narrator that tells you all of the hunter’s deepest darkest thoughts (usually about how money is the most important thing in his life), this is no challenge.

If you’re going to undertake this viewing project of mine, you should realize at the outset that you’re going to have to watch a lot of lousy jungle movies; yet, even I wasn’t quite prepared for the awesome ineptitude that passes for this movie. If I were into pithy putdowns, I’d point out that “forbidden” means you shouldn’t partake of it, and that it’s good advice. Instead, I’ll try to give you a taste of the experience by describing certain scenes.

It opens with the great hunter. He has a crowd of natives serving him whose sole function is to tote around a caged tiger through the African jungle. No, he didn’t just catch it; when he left for the safari, he didn’t know what else to do with the tiger, so he brought it along. I swear I’m not making this up. The opening five minutes of the movie consists of three different types of scenes: 1) the natives toting the tiger around, 2) the narrator telling you what the hunter is thinking while the latter raises his eyebrows, and 3) stock footage.

I may be paraphrasing somewhat, but the movie does contain the line, “I told you not to wake me up by jumping on my stomach.”

The best scene in the movie? The native boy jumps on the back of wildebeest and rides him to the native camp.

The gorilla (alias the man in the gorilla suit) is named Gigi. That may not be the correct spelling, but it sure sounds like it. Where’s Maurice Chevalier when you need him?

It’s nice that not all the animals are stock footage. There are even scenes with the actors interacting with lions. Fortunately, no one was in danger of being hurt because there was a big sheet of glass separating the lion from the humans. I know this because I can see the actors’ reflections in it when they talk to the lion.

I thought the scene where the hunter first meets the jungle boy (who convinces him that if he puts down his gun, clears his mind, and thinks nice thoughts, the nearby lion won’t kill him) to be the funniest scene I’d ever seen in a jungle movie. And then I saw….

…the scene where the hunter tempts the jungle boy into leaving with him for the city by telling him of the delights of Broadway (The Great White Way). There’s more sexual tension in this scene than in any of the ones with the scantily clad native girl.

I hope you like monkey antics. There is lots of footage of frolicking monkeys. LOTS of footage. I’m not kidding – we’re talking some serious frolicking monkey footage here. And if you get tired of that, they can always cut to the scene of the wildebeest shaking off flies. Does the action never stop?

The action (such as it is) comes to a climax when the tiger gets loose (thanks to the aforementioned monkey frolicking). We are then treated to the amazing fight scenes.

1. The blank panther fighting a stuffed tiger.

2. The wildebeest fighting a stuffed tiger.

3. The man in the gorilla suit fighting a stuffed tiger.

4. For a change of pace, we see the real tiger fighting a stuffed snake, and…

5….as God is my witness, the stuffed tiger takes on the stuffed snake. The fight of the century, folks.

After this, my mind turned off, and only flickered on long enough to register the moral lesson of the story. However, given the fact that the hunter’s narrator has harped on the fact that money is the most important thing in his life throughout most of the movie, it shouldn’t take a master logician to figure out what that lesson is going to be.

This movie is even worse that THE WHITE GORILLA, and that’s saying a lot.

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