Running Time: 73 minutes
Original Title: Jungle Project X
Copyright Date: March 13, 1953; Jan. 15, 1981
Release Date: March 1953
Révolte dans la jungle [Fr]
Retter von Tulonga [Gr]
I ribelli dell'isola [It]
Revolta na selva, Tulonga a ilha condenada [Pg]
La Isla condenada [Sp]
When foreign agent Carl Kroman learns that an
Anglo-American A-bomb test has being slated for the island of
Tulonga, he devises a plan to sabotage the test.
Jungle Jim is given the task of persuading the superstitious natives to leave the island. A field representative of the World Health Organization is to accompany Jim and inoculate the natives, just to be on the safe side.
Kroman and his henchman Bruno go to the island and convince the gullible witch doctor, Lutembi, that Jungle Jim wants to deceive them and that they should resist his efforts to evict them. Lutembi challenges Jim to a fight; the tribe will follow the winner. Naturally, Jim wins.
Kroman plans “incidents´ along the trail, including the release of a panther that almost kills the chief. Finally, the natives reach their temporary quarters near Dangor. Kroman, unable to stop the test, decides to persuade the natives to go back to the island, thereby making them victims of the test. He can tell the world press that the West uses human beings in their atomic tests. To prevent the authorities from stopping the test, he has some of Lutembi’s warriors smash the radio. They also take Dr. Martin and Joan hostage in case Major Walsh tries to block their return.
Jim heads for their canoes, but has to contend with Kroman and Bruno on the way. The latter are killed in the fight. Then Jim reaches and scuttles the canoes before the natives arrive, but is taken prisoner. If the bomb does not appear the next morning as Jim has warned, the hostages are to be killed. Of course, the bomb does explode and the natives release their prisoners.
In the 50s, with the cold war in full swing and the threat of nuclear annihilation uppermost in the American psyche, Hollywood resorted to the theme on a variety of levels; Katzman was no exception. But the notion that a nuclear test could be made on an inhabited island off the west coast of Africa thereby destroying all animal life and vegetation, not to mention the drifting fall-out, or the inhabitability of the island for centuries obviously never entered the “B” movie producer’s mind, although it must be admitted, it never occurred to us kids either.
Serial writer Sol Shor was commissioned to pen the rather naive script, and Katzman assembled some Bikini atoll footage for the test sequence near the film’s conclusion. Naturally, the bad guys were thoroughly heartless villains, ready to use the superstitious natives to promote a propaganda stunt that would embarrass the west. A similar approach had been adopted for the 1952 serial King of the Congo starring Buster Crabbe, although in neither film were the Russians alluded to specifically.
The “natives” looked more Polynesian than African, which allowed Katzman to use some south Pacific stock footage as well, although sloppily cut in. The Major’s map of Africa also showed the name of the island written in ink. The name was also misspelled in two written references: a ticker-taped message and a hand written one.
Part of the scenery in Corriganville was the recently-named “Burma Road” so christened after the film of the same name, although it had been known by other names prior to the film’s production.
Born Ann Evelyn Allen, Angela Stevens, one of the most strikingly feminine women I've
ever seen in films, was cast as the WHO representative who ministers to the
needs of the ultra-superstitious natives. The attractive blonde began as a
photographer's model. Decorating an "Eastside Beer" billboard, she was
spotted by Warner Bros. and was ushered rather quickly into films. After
appearing in several Doris Day films as an extra, she got an agent and left
In her early films, she used her married name, Ann Zika, but while working for Jules White on The Three Stooges shorts at Columbia, she was encouraged to change her name to one more palatable for the marquee. Thus was born Angela Stevens.
Despite her looks and regular work, Stevens was never under contract, and viewed the whole Hollywood scene as a means to help pay the bills. She never stayed at the studio longer than necessary, hurrying home to be with her husband and children.
Of the films Angela made, she has especially fond memories of the two films she made with Johnny Weissmuller. And she even enjoyed the company of the chimp. Every morning the chimp would sit with her and share her cigarette and coffee. In this regard, she shares something in common with Jean Byron. Both actresses got along well with the chimps. Later, she even got a pet gibbon and the animal became part of the family.
In 1958, a family tragedy ended her career in films. Angela's son, Joe, broke his neck while diving from a pier at Balboa Beach. The actress decided to give up her film career so that she could tend to him personally. He passed away in 1981.
The only regret Angela has is that she changed her name for the silver screen.
Another Stevens, unrelated to Angela, was Charles Stevens, whose Hollywood moniker belied the fact that he was a grandson of the great Apache war chief, Geronimo. Born in 1893 in Arizona, he left home to join a wild west show, eventually ending up in Hollywood in 1914, and becoming a good friend of Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., in all of whose films after 1914 he had a role, usually as a villain. His standard characterization was as either an Indian or a Mexican, and occasionally a native. He was Warner Baxter’s sidekick in the original Cisco Kid movies. Some of his uncredited roles include The Adventures of Marco Polo (38), Charlie Chan in Panama (40), Beyond the Blue Horizon (42), Conquest of Cochise (53), and Killer Leopard (54). Television series in which he appeared include The Lone Ranger, Sky King, The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, The Adventures of RIn Tin Tin, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Wagon Train, Broken Arrow, Zorro, The Law of the Plainsman, The Alaskans, Maverick and Rawhide. A recognized authority on Indian lore, he died in 1964, two years after his last screen appearance.
Weissmuller’s principal adversary in this film was played by Russian-born Gregory Gaye (occasionally Gay) (1900-93). He came to America following the Bolshevik takeover in 1917. His first film was They Had to See Paris (29), and he continued to appear in films until 1979. Among his many films are Charlie Chan at the Opera (36), Tovarich (37), Ninotchka (39), Casablanca (42), the Sherlock Holmes film Pursuit to Algiers (45), I Love a Mystery (45) and The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (47). By the fifties, Gaye began working for Sam Katzman and Columbia, appearing in films like Cargo to Capetown (50), When the Redskins Rode (51), The Magic Carpet (51), Flame of Calcutta (53) and Creature with the Atom Brain (55). He also had minor roles in some later “A” features like Auntie Mame (58) and The Prize (63). In 1954, he was again the main heavy in Weissmuller’s Jungle Man-Eaters. On television, he appeared briefly in a few series like Edward R. Murrow’s You Are There (56), The Adventures of Fu Manchu (56), Richard Diamond, Private Detective (57), Alcoa Presents (59), Thriller (62), The Dakotas (63), The Time Tunnel (66), and Mission Impossible (68).
Leonard Penn (1906-1975) played Gaye’s henchman Bruno. An MGM contract player from 1937-39, he joined the service to fight in WWII. Following his release in 1946, he returned to acting. Penn appeared in more than 60 films before ending his career. His last appearance was in the television series I Spy in 1967. More often than not, he played a henchman or main villain in films, many of which were for Columbia and especially Sam Katzman. Some of his films are Bachelor Mother (39) with Ginger Rogers, I Cover Big Town (47), Wanted: Dead or Alive (51), A Yank in Indo-China (52), a Bowery Boys entry No Holds Barred (52) and Flame of Calcutta (53). He was in a number of Katzman’s serials: Son of the Guardsman (46), Chick Carter, Detective (46), Brick Bradford (47), Congo Bill (48), Batman and Robin (49), Adventures of Sir Galahad (49), Mysterious Island (51), King of the Congo (52), and The Lost Planet (53). His television appearances began in 1949 with The Lone Ranger and included such series as The Gene Autry Show, The Range Rider, The Cisco Kid, The Roy Rogers Show, The Adventures of Superman, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill, Jr., Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Death Valley Days, Zane Grey Theater, Alcoa Presents, Rocky Jones, Have Gun Will Travel, The Gertrude Berg Show, The Aquanauts, and Ben Casey.
Two references to Penn on the Internet Movie Database (IMBd) require correction. He is NOT the father of actors Sean and Chris Penn (he could have been their grandfather). Moreover, he did not appear in Thief of Damascus (52), although press information erroneously stated that he did.
Ted Thorpe (1917-1970) played the blackmail victim who finally fesses up to Jungle Jim. He only made a handful of films in the 50s and early 60s: Here Comes the Groom (51), two serials Radar Men from the Moon (51), and The Lost Planet (53), It Should Happen to You (54), Phffft! (54), Witness to a Murder (54), Machine Gun Kelly (58), Back Street (61), If a Man Answers (62), and Hang ’em High (68). The highlight of his brief career was probably his teaming up with Joseph Mell in Flame of Calcutta (53), playing a Laurel and Hardy-type duo. The only television credit I have for him was in a 1955 episode of Science Fiction Theatre titled “The Lost Heartbeat.”
Actor-turned-stuntman George Robotham [stress on the second syllable]first appeared on the big screen as a crewman in Destination Tokyo (43). By 1950 he was working almost exclusively for Columbia in low-budget films and serials, including Atom Man vs. Superman (50), Chain Gang (50), Captain Video (51), Mysterious Island (51), and The Garment Jungle (57). His television appearances included Zane Grey Theater, It Takes a Thief, The Outer Limits, Laredo, The Green Hornet, The Time Tunnel, Daniel Boone, The Invaders, Alias Smith and Jones, Land of the Giants, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, in the latter of which he also performed stunts. Like fellow stuntman Paul Stader, Robotham eventually became a stunt supervisor and co-ordinator,. Mr. Robotham passed away in 2007.
There is a scene in Savage Mutiny in which Jungle Jim is teaching one of the soldiers some self-defence manœuvres. This scene was choreographed and stunted by Paul Stader as Jim and Robotham. When Jim flips Robotham, it is Weissmuller, but it is Stader who is thrown by Robotham. The battle between Jim and the witch doctor, Lutembi, also has Stader doubling for Weissmuller in the long shots, although I do not know who doubled for Marion.
For biographical information on Paul Marion and Nelson Leigh, read the commentary on The Lost Tribe. Similarly, notes on Lester Matthews can be found in the commentary on Jungle Jim in the Forbidden Land.
Mel Koontz returned with his panther Dynamite. Some footage was shot, but most of the fight was reprised from Jungle Jim in the Forbidden Land. The pressbook hyped about Weissmuller’s being padded to protect him from possible scratches from the “tame” beast, but of course, Koontz did the fighting with the real animal, while Weissmuller’s filming was with a dummy version.
Perhaps the most embarrassing line of dialogue was given to Nelson Leigh, who tells Jungle Jim at the conclusion of the film that this Atom bomb test will be repeated at another time in another place, “wherever free men seek to find the weapons of peace.”
And Carl Schmaus, a Columbia technician specializing in painting background scenery, spray-painted a jungle set using a 12-footspray handle attached to a bucket pump — at least, that's what happened according to the pressbook.
Savage Mutiny was one of four Katzman-Weissmuller films released on videocassette in 1990 by GoodTimes Video. Although their licence has expired, copies of the film are occasionally to be found in large video stores.
Hollywood Citizen News
Another in the Jungle Jim series, Sam Katzman's "Savage Mutiny" will do nothing toward adding more fans for the Johnny Weissmuller starrers. The juvenile story is too far-fetched for even the small fry to get excited about and the stock footage is painfully obvious, with glaring differences in lighting. Spencer G. Bennet's direction is routine, failing to rise above the dull story.
Story concerns an Anglo-American atom bomb test to be conducted in Africa. Jungle Jim has the task of clearing Tulonga Island, scene of the test, of its natives. Opposing him are espionage agents Gregory Gay and Leonard Penn who plan on turning the test into a propaganda campaign against the U.S. and Britain by luring the natives back on the island just before the bomb is dropped. The intent is to take pictures of the tribesmen being slaughtered to prove that the allies are using natives as guinea pigs. But Jungle Jim manages to prevent the plot, killing off the spies in singularly routine fashion.
Weissmuller handles his physical exploits in agile fashion, and Angela Stevens is pretty and unruffled through all the jungle hazards. Gay and Penn handle the villains with competence. Tamba, as usual, accompanies Weissmuller, but too much footage is wasted in showing the chimp hopping up and down.
Latest "Jungle Jim" entry lacks the straightforward approach of former entries in series, which will cause it to be sloughed even in the program market. There are a few minutes of good fighting between jungle animals, via stock footage, and film contains certain exploitation ingredients, but overall, effect is not conducive to enthusiastic acceptance.
Johnny Weissmuller, as Jim, is faced with the task of removing a tribe of natives from a small West African island which the U. S. and British in a joint operation plan to use for an atom bomb test. He is opposed by enemy agents, who wish to keep the natives on the island so they'll be annihilated by the bomb and photographic recording of this slaughter may be used against the two nations. Finally transported to the mainland, natives are sprayed with radioactive dust by an enemy plane, and they fight to return to the island, just as the agents plan.
Radioactivity spraying sequence may be promoted in view of the press last week speculating that just such a weapon was indicated in President Truman's "State of the Union" message. Spencer G. Bennet generally is unable to rise above unconvincing elements of script in his direction, however, and Sam Katzman apparently gave film the once-over-lightly treatment in prepping his latest "Jungle Jim" release.
Weissmuller doesn't stand too much chance with his role, Angela Stevens' character of a doctor is dragged in obviously for femme interest, and Tamba the chimp, while in for laughs, draws an overage of footage. Balance of cast are types.