Running Time: 66 minutes
Completed May 19, 1951
Copyright Date: Sept. 24, 1951; April 17, 1979
Release Date: October 1951
First showing in Canada: February 9, 1953
Original Title: Jungle Jim and the Devil Men
Working Titles: Jungle Safari
Panique dans la jungle [Fr]
Caccia all'uomo nella jungla [It]
O Cacique branco [Pg]
El Cacique blanco [Sp]
Maklee raiders led by Dr. Mitchell Heller, industrial
chemist turned outlaw, have invaded Jungle Jim’s territory,
kidnapping tribesmen to be used as slave labour in the
scientist’s venture to produce synthetic diamonds. The
radioactivity of the ore is lethal thus requiring frequent sorties
into the jungle to recruit new workers.
Meanwhile, Anne Lawrence, a free-lance photographer, is searching for Bob Miller, a missing heir and grid-iron ace. She asks Jungle Jim to act as her guide, but his help is needed to locate and subdue the renegade tribe. When Anne learns that a white man is leading the notorious tribe, she asks to tag along in the unlikely event the white man turns out to be Bob Miller.
Later, when a tribe in whose village Jim and his companions are spending the night is attacked by the Maklees, Bob Miller turns up to lead Jim and his companions to safety. It seems he was rescued from his downed plane by the Sutker tribe with whom he has been living for the past nine years. Because of his background, he has been able to make home-made bombs which he throws like footballs, earning him the title “great-white-god-who-throws-thunder-with-his-hands.”
When Jim explains his mission to Miller, the latter is reluctant to become involved – that is, until one of his hunting parties is attacked and kidnapped.
Joining forces, Jim, Bob, Anne, and Bono, chief of the Matusa, head inland to locate Heller’s headquarters, while Miller’s war party heads up the coast. The inland party subsequently passes through Monogeecheeland replete with prehistoric reptiles.
Eventually, the party is captured and, except for Anne, all are condemned to dig in the mines. But Jim escapes, freeing in turn Miller. The latter gathers his war party together, Anne dynamites the mine, Bono leads the prisoners on a break, and Jim pursues Heller to the top of a cliff. Losing his balance, Heller falls over the cliff and is killed. Bob will turn the Maklees over to the district commissioner, and Anne decides that life in the jungle with Bob is worth a great deal more than money, and as usual, everything returns to normal.
This film introduced Bob “the Bomb” Waterfield, ace quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams. Katzman, a football fan, admired the ex-U.C.L.A. grid-iron jockeys and often found work for them as doubles during the Rams off-season. Waterfield had been doing work doubling for actors when Katzman approached him with the idea of becoming an actor himself.
The vehicle for his debut was a simple one, tailor-made it would seem, for his athletic prowess. In fact, the gimmick of Molotov-style coconut bombs, which Waterfield tosses like rockets was a perfect element.
The adventure film was a good one to test Waterfield’s histrionic potential, because it relied more on action than on voice modulation and the need to emote. Like Weissmuller, Waterfield seemed subdued in the role, but came across as a very likeable gent, and Katzman could count on at the very least that sports fans would be tempted into the cinemas.
Waterfield had appeared in one or two other films, as himself, one of these being Triple Threat (48), and later he appeared in Crazy Legs, All-American (53).
In March 1952, a news item had
Waterfield under a long-term contract to Columbia Pictures. Sam
Katzman added that negotiations were underway for the rights to a
well-known comic strip, and that if they were obtained, the football
star was slated to star in it. It was good publicity, but as an actor
Waterfield never made another film.
In 1955, Waterfield and his wife formed a production company called Russ-Field. Under this banner, four films were shot before the company was dissolved. They were Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (55), A King and Four Queens (56), Run For the Sun (56), and The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (57).
Waterfield was born on July 26, 1920. He met Jane Russell at Van Nuys High School when he was fourteen. After an on again, off again romance, they were finally married at Easter 1943. Russell, unable to have children, persuaded him to adopt, and they did – three children: Tracy, Thomas and Buck.
Waterfield had played football during his military days, and after being discharged with a knee injury, he decided to go back to college to complete his degree in Physical Education. While there, he played football, and in 1944, in an All-Star game, he was selected as quarterback and most valuable player. His professional career started with the Cleveland Rams, and as star quarterback led the team to victory in his rookie year, a first. The team was moved to Los Angeles the following year, some say as a result of Jane Russell’s influence. In 1952, Waterfield retired from professional football. He had played pro for eight years, led the NFL in passing for two, kicked 315 extra points and sixty field goals, averaged 42.4 yards in punting, and as a defensive back, intercepted twenty passes. On January 12, 1959, he signed on as coach for the L.A. Rams, becoming head coach a year later. This lasted until 1962.
The Waterfield-Russell marriage, always stormy, finally ended in July 1968. On March 25, 1983 Waterfield died of respiratory failure. On Easter Sunday, Buck Waterfield took his father’s ashes to Caliente, where the latter had hunted, and sprinkled them under the pine trees.
Sheila Ryan essayed the role of the wise-cracking femme shutterbug, hired to find the lost pilot. Born in 1921, she started in films with a bit part in What a Life (39). She replaced a pregnant Brenda Joyce in the Laurel and Hardy vehicle A-Haunting We Will Go in 1942, and managed to do some dancing in The Gang’s All Here in 1943. She divorced Eddie Norris in 1947, then in 1952 she married Pat Buttram, whom she met while working in Gene Autry's Mule Train (50). She did a few more films and retired from the screen in 1958. She passed away in 1975 following a lengthy illness .
The usual extras found their way into this entry, even Rusty Wescoatt, usually a henchman, he was dressed as a native in this one, and as such was unbilled.
For information on Lyle Talbot, see my commentary on Fury of the Congo.
Writing to the Motion Picture Herald in April 1952 in reference to Jungle Manhunt, an Arkansas exhibitor wrote: “These Jungle Jim films have never failed me yet. They bring in just as much business as any Tarzan picture I have ever played.”
From Motion Picture Herald
Johnny Weissmuller is back as Jungle Jim in this latest in the series. Filmed in sepia tone, the picture stands up to its predecessors and contains a generous amount of action and suspense., The story is easy to follow and the characters do just the expected thing at the expected time, "Jungle Manhunt" should go over nicely with that element that follows the series, especially the youngsters.
Produced by Sam Katzman and directed by Lew Landers, the picture has Sheila Ryan as a free lance photographer who has been hired by a wealthy American. Her mission is to fins this man's nephew, a former all-American football player who was missing while piloting a bomber during a routine flight.
She meets Weissmuller and he agrees to help in the
search. Soon enough, however, there are complications in the form f a
tribe of savage natives attacking and burning other villages, and led
by Lyle Talbot, a white scientist who is capturing these natives to
work for him in a synthetic diamond scheme.
It isn't long before Bob Waterfield, the ex-footballer, is discovered, living happily with a friendly tribe whom he has started to educate in civilized living. Waterfield joins the others to hunt Talbot and his crew. They are successful, and after escaping captivity, the bad tribe an their ringleader are destroyed.
Written for the screen by Samuel Newman, "Jungle Manhunt" contains such exciting features as a fight between two prehistoric animals, and underwater battle between a shark and an octopus and native battles. Weissmuller also gets a chance to do plenty of swimming and diving.
This is a routine series entry of the cliffhanger type. The addition of pro football star Bob Waterfield as virtual co-star with Johnny Weissmuller merely adds another muscle-man to this adventure picture. which may do well on lower rung of some twin bills and will entertain kiddies as Saturday matinees. For most adult audiences, "Jungle Manhunt" is implausible and indigestible.
Story is of a Los Angeles free-lance femme photographer searching for Waterfield, who plays a former grid star who disappeared in his Army plane on a routine flight over jungle territory. When her boat capsizes, the gal, Sheila Ryan, stumbles into Weissmuller, a jungle guide. They immediately spot Waterfield during a tribal fight in the jungle when he comes to their rescue by tossing a hand grenade like a pigskin at the attacking natives. It's as simple as all that. A scheming white man using captured natives to mine a mineral which he employs to manufacture synthetic diamonds, etc., comprises some of the other action, all of it too hokey. A death struggle between two huge reptiles is injected for no plausible reason.
Weissmuller is still the he-man of old and a terrific swimmer as Jungle Jim. Waterfield shapes up as a screen possibility, this being his first picture, though he obviously lacks thespian ability. Miss Ryan supplies a pat performance as the insipid newspaper shutter-bug.
Lew Landers has done better directing, William Whitley's cameraing is okay.
L. A. Mirror
His pro football colleagues may never let him live it down, but Bob Waterfield is making his acting debut in the movies. And he's out-Flynning Errol.
Never was Flynn so brave. In "Jungle Jim in the Forbidden Land" [read: Jungle Manhunt], Waterfield plays a former football hero who is downed in the wilderness during a wartime Army flight. Sort of like Tom Harmon, you see.
Unlike Harmon, who came back to announce sports on television, Waterfield remains in the jungle to become the leader of a native tribe. He likes it there. But, he is sought after by a lady photographer (Sheila Ryan) and Jungle Jim, who is Tarzan with his clothes on (Johnny Weissmuller).
All three get involved with a mad doctor, who is making synthetic diamonds, and the inevitable marauding natives. This problem is resolved when Waterfield tosses a forward pass with a packet of dynamite.
Meanwhile, he has been throwing some passes at Miss Ryan, who also decides she likes it there in the jungle and stays with him.
I found Waterfield, the star quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, taking the rigors of his new job quite easily. Robert, who has been accused of having ice water in his veins, was calmly smoking a cigar and waiting for his next scene.
"It's easy," he admitted. "I don't have much dialogue, so I don't have to study at home or anything. It's mostly action, and that's not difficult."
I asked him what his wife, a girl named Jane Russell, thinks of his new career. "She thinks it's a big laugh," he reported.
Does he intend to make acting his full-time career when his football days are over? He shrugged his shoulders, indicating little faith in his dramatic ability.
Waterfield had an ordeal for his first love scene. It was an outdoor sequence at a ranch location [i.e. Corriganville]. Watching it was the full crew of movie-makers, plus two busloads of tourists who had been driven by. The director instructed Waterfield to give Miss Ryan a kiss. "In front of all these people?" he protested. But he did it.