Running Time: 69 minutes
Shooting begins April 27, 1954
Copyright Date: November 30, 1954; Renewed January 1982
Release Date: November 1954
Jungle Jim contre les cannibales [Belg]
Sous la menace des cannibales [Fr]
I Divoratori della giungla [It]
Os Homens crocodilos [Pg]
Hombres caimanes [Sp]
Johnny Weissmuller is called in to investigate the mysterious disappearance of valuable cobalt shipments. A half-caste native girl, Luora, and her accomplices, Rovak and Jason, along with members of the Shenzi tribe, a former cannibal society, of whom the girl’s mother was the princess, are responsible for the thefts.
The blame has been attached to the crocodiles that infest the river, but Weissmuller is not convinced. Eventually, he uncovers the truth, including the fact that the colony’s settlement director, King, has been an accessory because of his infatuation with Luora.
During a final confrontation with the villains, Johnny, the commissioner, Arnold King, the director’s younger brother, and the colonists, the villains are dispatched. King’s brother is elected the new director by the colonists, and Weissmuller can return home satisfied with the success of his mission.
As Michael Fox pointed out in an interview, the Jungle Jim films were usually filmed back to back, which explained how an actor could be planned for one film, and Katzman could find a use for him in another. Such must have been the scenario for Michael Granger’s voice-over for the narration at the beginning of Cannibal Attack. He was slated for a role in the next film, Jungle Moon Men, and Katzman found him useful as the narrator for this one.
This was the first film under the new set-up: the Jungle Jim character was now in the hands of Columbia’s subsidiary, Screen Gems, and with three pictures left in Johnny’s contract, Katzman simply used his name and filmed away. Lee Sholem was again given helming duties as director.
This was also the first film in several to make use of the Arboretum in Arcadia. In fact, most of the jungle and aquatic footage was filmed there, even more than in the early films. And Katzman reprised elements from the early films as filler for the latest jungle ‘epic,’ like the fight with the leopard from Jungle Jim, the fight with the eagle from Mark of the Gorilla, and David Bruce’s tousle with the crocodile, lifted from The Lost Tribe.
Judy Walsh (1932 - 2006), while on vacation in Palm Springs,
California, was signed as a contract player by Howard Hughes during his
ownership of RKO. Twice married, Walsh eventually left films for the
business world as a clothing retailer, setting up shop in Temecula, and then
branching out into a few other towns including Big Bear.
Cast as a jungle vamp, at least that part of her role was convincing. Also on the plus side was her swimming ability. But the delivery of her lines was something else, and it is evident that on at least three or four occasions, she had to voice over her lines. As the princess of a former cannibal tribe, she uses her wiles and low cleavage to seduce Steve Darrell and Bruce Cowling, but Weissmuller is her first failure. But she ranks high as a female villain, especially when she knifes Darrell, when the latter is fighting her men.
The Hollywood cover girl made only a few films including Take Care of My Little Girl (51), The Half-Breed (52), Second Chance (53), and Cat-Women of the Moon (53). In the latter film, she joined sister cover girls as a tribe of lunar belles.
Handsome Bruce Cowling (1919-86) played the villain Rovak. He began films in 1946 in Till the Clouds Roll By (46). While he did not appear in many films, most were of some stature. They include Song of the Thin Man (47), The Stratton Story (49), Battleground (49), Westward the Women (51), The Battle at Apache Pass (52), Gun Belt (53), Masterson of Kansas (54), and a role in the Audie Murphy biopic To Hell and Back (55). He also appeared on television from 1954 to 1959 in such series as The Lone Ranger, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Perry Mason and Have Gun Will Travel.
Steve Darrell (1905-1970) started in films in the late 30s and made a career of westerns, but still managed a few films in other categories. His inventory includes They Died with Their Boots on (41), The Bullfighters (45), The Adventures of Frank & Jesse James (48), David Harding, Counterspy (50), I Was a Shoplifter (50), Winchester ’73 (50), The Sword of Monte Cristo (51), The Sniper (52), Tarantula (55), Good Morning, Miss Dove (55), Prince of Players (55), The Ten Commandments (56), The Big Land (57), The Monolith Monsters (57), and Timbuktu (59). On television, Darrell seems to have restricted his roles to the westerns, appearing on The Gene Autry Show, The Lone Ranger, Cheyenne, Broken Arrow, Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Rifleman, Laramie, Bat Masterson and Wagon Train, among others.
Rounding out the cast was Charles Evans who appears to have been in films since the early 30s, but became more recognizable in character roles in the 40s and 50s, appearing in such films as Monsieur Verdoux (47), Walk a Crooked Mile (48), Samson and Delilah (49), My Friend Irma Goes West (50), A Woman of Distinction (50), The Reformer and the Redhead (50), The Magnificent Yankee (50), Here Comes the Groom (51), The Desert Fox (51), The Great Caruso (51), Jumping Jacks (52), Singin’ in the Rain (52), Battle of Rogue River (54), Demetrius and the Gladiators (54), Creature with the Atom Brain (55), A Man Called Peter (55), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (56), Shake, Rattle and Rock (57), Too Much, Too Soon (58), All in a Night’s Work (61), and Fun in Acapulco (63).
Motion Picture Herald
The latest in Sam Katzman's jungle series for Columbia, "Cannibal Attack" is a standard mixture of studio action and jungle stock shots. Johnny Weissmuller stars once again as the intrepid hero who overcomes all adversaries, human or animal.
His main foes in this one are crocodiles and savages who dress like crocodiles, These men are led by a half-caste jungle girl, the ward of a cobalt mine owner. She has persuaded him to smuggle the valuable cobalt and sell it to a foreign government. Weissmuller is called in by the jungle commissioner to determine the source of these thefts and after innumerable bursts of violence he succeeds.
Besides Johnny and the commissioner, the only other on-villain in the film is the mine owner's brother and he's suspect almost until the very end. This cloaking of identities not only confuses Weissmuller, but also the audience. Despite its comparatively brief running time, the action tends to be repetitious and slow-moving.
However, dyed-in-the-wool action fans should be compensated by the innumerable clashes between man and beast, and man and man.
Weissmuller performs his usual amount of derring-do, including much swimming, tussles with crocodiles and a wild fist-and-gun fight-to-the-finish.
The supporting cast is undistinguished. Lee Sholem directed from a story and screenplay by Carroll Young.
A smattering of humor is provided by Kimba, the omnipresent chimpanzee.
A Johnny Weissmuller starrer, "Cannibal Attack" is standard action-adventure material for juvenile audiences. As such there's nothing pretentious about this Sam Katzman production but it will comfortably fill demands of the secondary situations.
"Attack" incidentally, originally was intended as another entry in Columbia's "Jungle Jim" series with Weissmuller portraying the title role. However, Col recently turned over the "Jim" rights to Screen Gems, its vidpix subsidiary, and as a result the star is cast as himself instead of the comic strip adventurer.
For that matter, it's understood that producer Katzman has only two more Weissmuller pictures coming up after the current release. One is completed and the other is to roll shortly. Reportedly, the onetime swim champ prefers something less strenuous now that he's somewhat older.
As for "Attack," scripter Carroll Young whipped up a fanciful tale of cobalt mysteriously disappearing in a crocodile infested river. There are numerous fights between Weissmuller, white men, natives and crocs but just what it's all about is rather confusing until shortly before the finale.
Eventually it develops that Judy Walsh, a half-caste native gal, mine owner Stevan Darrell and his henchman, Bruce Cowling, are swiping the cobalt for a foreign government. Their plot is exposed by Weissmuller after he foils the opposition with familiar heroics.
Weissmuller, although a little beefy, is still adept in the water. Miss Walsh wears a sarong with the best of 'em but her thesping is another matter. David Bruce is fair as Weissmuller's aide while so-so support is provided by Cowling, Darrell and Charles Evans, among others.
Lee Sholem's direction couldn't do much with this one, apparently the implausible story was too much of a handicap. Camerawork of Henry Freulich is okay. Much of the background, however, consists of stock shots of jungles and animals. Mischa Bakaleinikoff's score and Edwin Bryant's editing are par for the course.