The Naked Jungle
Facts and Figures
Run time: 95 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 3rd March 1954
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 5 Rotten: 1
IMDB: 6.9 / 10
The Naked Jungle Review
This schizophrenic little drama starts with an incredible uninspiring setup: Heston is the hapless owner of a cocoa plantation in South America, 1901. For no particular reason, he sends off for a mail order bride, which arrives in the form of the far too lovely Eleanor Parker. But Parker's got a secret: She's a widow. Gasp!
Heston rejects her, but before she has a chance to return home, the film abruptly shifts gears completely: There's a 40-square-mile column of ants approaching the plantation, destroying everything in their path. Heston rallies the troops to fight off the ant horde by digging moats and setting up fire traps, with the subtext that this common enemy will unite the previously combative Heston and Parker.
Heston and Parker aren't exactly Tracy and Hepburn, and their chemistry here is forced. But utltimately it's the bizarre structure -- half romantic drama, half monster movie -- that makes The Naked Jungle a truly unique experience. It's not a terrible one, mind you, but the second half of the film is far more interesting. If you want to see an unlikely couple set in an exotic location, check out The African Queen. But Jungle's ant invasion is surprisingly effective and attention-grabbing. I'm not sure I've ever seen a monster flick treated with such seriousness and, dare I say, reverence.
If you rent it, simply fast forward to the 45 minute mark and go from there.