Cast and Credits

Jungle Jim
Shari
Man-Ape
Ramada
Andrews
Mahara
Achmed
Perry
Norley
Maron
Medical Officer
Tamba
Tusko, the Baby Elephant
Henchman

Johnny Weissmuller
Carol Thurston
Max Palmer
Burt Wenland
Nestor Paiva
Paul Marion
Eddie Foster
Rory Mallinson
Ray Corrigan
Nick Stuart
Michael Fox
Peggy

Harry Wilson

á
Producer
Director
Screenplay
Assistant Director
2nd Assistant Director
Camera
Art Director
Film Editor
Set Decorator
Musical Director
Unit Manager
Sound Engineer
Special Makeup

á
Sam Katzman
Spencer G. Bennet
Carroll Young, Arthur Hoerl
Carter DeHaven, Jr.
Leonard Katzman
William Whitley
Paul Palmentola
Gene Havlick
Sidney Clifford
Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Herbert Leonard
Josh Westmoreland
Clay Campbell, June Roberts

Running Time: 68 minutes

Original Title: Jungle Jim vs. the Giant Killer
Working Title: The Killer Ape

Shooting began February 3, 1953
Completed February 12, 1953
Copyright Date: December 1, 1953; Renewed January 15, 1981
Release Date: December 1953



Le Tueur de la jungle [Fr]
O Gorila assassino {Pg]
El Hombre gorila [Sp]


Synopsis

When Jungle Jim notices strange behaviour among the crocodiles, he calls in the authorities. This leads to the discovery of a mad scientist, named Andrews, who has discovered a drug that destroys a victim’s will to resist. The madman and his crew are encamped in the infamous Canyon of the Ape, so named because its sole resident is an eight-foot monstrosity that kills anything that invades its territory.

When the chief of the Wasulis is slain, Jim’s knife turns out to be the offending weapon, and Jim is condemned to die by the chief’s sister, Shari, and her fiance, Ramada, but Jim escapes with the help of his simian sidekick, Tamba, and sets out to prove his innocence.

Despite Jim’s efforts, the man-ape manages to capture the girl, and Andrews enslaves Ramada and his followers when the young man realizes that the scientist is mistreating the animals and refuses to sell them to him.

Eventually, Andrews captures everybody, including the man-ape, but Tamba goes into action again and rallies a horde of monkeys to attack the camp. During the stampede, the prisoners escape.

The gang decides to moves its camp to another site, and prepares to move its supplies and equipment. The creature attacks and kills the men in the cave, including the mad scientist, Andrews, and later routs the others. Then he returns to the caves.

When Jim and his party return to investigate, Shari is once again captured by the monster. Jim pursues them into the caves, and manages to free Shari and knock the monster down, long enough to torch the supplies, and the giant menace perishes in the flames.

Commentary

7'7" Max Palmer (1928-84) played the title character in this Jungle Jim entry. Wearing a bullet-proof fur piece, Palmer lumbered through the film using a gait that must have given the small fry nightmares, although, amusingly enough, when he walked through the screen credits at the film’s beginning, one sequence has him walking quite normally. Columbia’s premiere make-up man Clay Campbell added to the monster effect with an impressive face mask. Of course, Columbia added a foot to the giant's already substantial height for publicity purposes.

Palmer made only a few films and an occasional TV appearance in the early 50s before becoming a professional wrestler named, aptly enough, Paul Bunyan. He also worked in advertising stunts. After licking an alcohol problem in the mid-60s, Palmer turned to religion and became a circuit preacher, often working with troubled kids.

His first film appearance was in The Sniper (52), and he was one of the giant mutants in Invaders from Mars made the same year as Killer Ape. On television, he appeared on the Jimmy Durante Show, and played a bartender in a Bat Masterson episode.

Palmer’s huge body must have been too much of a strain on him; he died from a heart disorder at the relatively young age of 56.

Character actor Nestor Paiva (1905- 66) played the mad scientist out to make a bundle on the mind-control drug he has discovered. After earning his degree at UCLA, Paiva began a stage career at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. In 1936, he started in films at Paramount, and from then on, he dedicated his efforts exclusively to films. He appeared in over 100 films some of which are Another Thin Man (39), The Sea Hawk (40), Hold That Ghost (41), Road to Morocco (42), Dancing Masters (43), The Desert Song (43), Tarzan's Desert Mystery (43), The Falcon in Mexico (44), Kismet (44), Road to Rio (46), The Paleface (48), Mighty Joe Young (49), My Favorite Spy (51), April in Paris (52), The Creature from the Black Lagoon (54), Tarantula (55), The Guns of Fort Petticoat (57), Girls! Girls! Girls! (62). His last film was The Spirit Is Willing (67). His TV credits include I Love Lucy, Red Skelton, The Loretta Young Show and Perry Mason.

Burt Wenland plays Carol Thurston’s fiancÚ. He had a brief career, showing up in the Abbott & Costello film Africa Screams (49) as Frank Buck’s assistant, and in a minor capacity in a couple of space films Phantom from Space (53) and Killers from Space (54). On television he appeared in several episodes of The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok.

In films since 1932, Eddie Foster’s name was hardly a household word. Still he managed to earn a living from his appearances in minor roles, which include The Kid from Spain (32), Gold Diggers of 1933 (33), Kid Galahad (37), Dick Tracy Returns (38), The Mummy's Hand (40), Bowery Blitzkrieg (41), Ball of Fire (41), Junior G-Men of the Air (42), Saboteur (42), Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (42), It Ain’t Hay (47), White Heat (49), Triple Trouble (50), Marjorie Morningstar (58), and The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (62).

Nick Stuart (1903-73) was born Nicholas Pratza in Romania, but was raised from early childhood in Dayton, Ohio. His early films in the 20s and 30s were meaty roles, but by the mid-40s he was playing minor character roles, often as a villain. By the 50s he was appearing regularly in Katzman’s serials: Blackhawk (52), King of the Congo (52), The Great Adventures of Captain Kidd (53), The Lost Planet (53). After leaving films, he had his own orchestra, and then traded that in for a clothing store. Twice married, he died from cancer in 1973. His films include The Cradle Snatchers (27), Gold Diggers of Broadway (29), Girls Gone wild (29), Joy Street (29), Chasing Through Europe (29), Why Leave Home? (29), Swing High (30), The Fourth Alarm (30), Sheer Luck (31), Mystery Train (31), Sundown Trail (31), Police Call (33), Secret Sinners (33), A Demon for Trouble (34), Secrets of China Town (35), Rio Grande Romance (36), Underworld Terror (36), Pride of the Bowery (41), Mr. Muggs Steps Out (43), Gunsmoke (47), The French Line (54), Joe Macbeth (55), The Divided Heart (55), The Night My Number Came Up (55), High Tide at Noon (57), The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (58), and High Hell (58).

Rory Mallinson (1913-76) began his film career after the war under contract to Warner Bros. in 1945 in the film Pride of the Marines. Two years later he was free-lancing, mostly at the smaller studios. Besides appearing with Weissmuller in Killer Ape and Jungle Moon Men (54), he made appearances with Weissmuller’s screen son Johnny Sheffield in a couple of the Bomba films: Safari Drums (53) and Killer Leopard (54). Of his other films, we can note The Big Sleep (46), Night and Day (46), Bad Men of Tombstone (49), Wake of the Red Witch (49), Blackhawk (52), A Yank in Indo-China (52), Brave Warrior (52), The Sniper (52), A Bullet for Joey (55), Seminole Uprising (55), Oklahoma! (55), King of the Wild Stallions (59) and Spencer’s Mountain (63), his last film. On television he showed up in a number of episodes of The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, and in 1961 he appeared on Cheyenne.

For information on Paul Marion, see The Lost Tribe, and for Michael Fox, Voodoo Tiger. Carol Thurston is discussed in the commentary on Swamp Fire (46).

Reviews

Motion Picture Herald

Johnny Weissmuller as Jungle Jim continues to fight corruption in rural Africa in this latest in the series from producer Sam Katzman. The corruption involves a group of scientists who are working on a serum which renders both man ad beast incapable of resistance, a drug which obviously could have disastrous effects if used to facilitate international relations.

The creature of the title, a seven-foot wild man, stalks through the story in a black fur piece, murdering natives (both friend and foe), kidnapping curvaceous Carol Thurston and generally messing up a straight plot line, which, however, won't bother the young action fans. Like other Jungle Jim dramas, "Killer Ape" has its share of stock Jungle shots which add interest and passing authenticity to what is admittedly juvenile fare.

Supporting Weissmuller are Tamba, his inseparable chimpanzee; Max Palmer as the wild man, and Miss Thurston, as an Arab girl who, with her brother, Paul Marion, and fiancÚ, Burt Wenland, collect animals to sell to zoos. Nestor Paiva leads the unprincipled scientists whose vile deeds are brought to a timely end by the wild man who, in turn, is dispatched by Jungle Jim.

The film moves at a fairly brisk pace, climaxed by a surprise finale.

Spencer G. Bennet directed from a screenplay by Carroll Young and Arthur Hoerl, based on a story by Young.

Variety

"Killer Ape," latest of the Columbia "Jungle Jim" programmers, is no worse, but certainly no better, than predecessors in the series, so it will adequately fill its release intentions adequately.

As Jungle Jim, Johnny Weissmuller has to contend with a giant man-ape and a group of villains trying to perfect a vicious drug, use of which makes the victim lose the will to fight. The pace is slow, the script obvious and talky, and the direction and playing stereotyped. Technical credits achieve routine values for the budget.

Weissmuller figures something is wrong when he learns wild animals are being drugged. He ventures into a section of the jungle ruled over by the man-ape, finds Nestor Paiva and his henchmen have set up shop to manufacture the drug. Jungle Jim's efforts to foil the crooks are hampered by natives led by Carol Thurston and Paul Marion, who refuse to believe there is a man-ape and are selling animals to Paiva. They change their tune, however, when Max Palmer, the monstrosity, goes berserk and kills Paiva's group and, in turn, is destroyed by Weissmuller, who uses fire for the deed after bullets and knives fail to do the job. Pulling the hero out of many a tight spot and injecting a laugh or two for the kiddies, is the chimp, Tamba, who fares better than the human actors in the story.