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A group of adventurers head deep into a South American jungle in search of ancient Incan treasure. A beautiful woman, brought to their camp by hired bearers, has come to join her husband, a newer member of the group, who was recently killed by hostile natives. As the months go by, jealousies and tempers flare as fights break out over the woman. The Incan treasure is finally found but the treaure-seekers, now united by a common enemy, are about to be attacked by hundreds of fierce natives armed with bows and poisoned arrows. Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
Voted the worst picture of the year by the students of Harvard and presumably the winner of the Harvard Lampoon award for 1940 if such was given out back in the day, Green Hell is a great example of what some actors will do for a friend.
Note the credits for producer of this film, the name of the gentleman was Harry Eddington. He and another man Frank Vincent were partners in a talent agency and according to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in his memoirs, Eddington had always wanted to be a producer. He was well liked by his clients and the cast members he assembled were from mostly his free lance clients who did a favor for him. He got Frances Marion to write the script and James Whale to direct and sold the whole business to Universal.
Other than some establishing shots the entire thing was done on the sound stage of Universal. It all looks phony, even the King Kong jungle at RKO was better than this. Of course American movie companies were not shooting abroad in tropical climates at this time. Fairbanks remembers that while the sets were all phony, the humidity due to lack of air conditioning wasn't.
The story is set in South America at the Amazon headwaters where one of those movie lost cities has been found. Rumors of Inca treasure has brought a motley concoction of adventurers on an expedition headed by archaeologists Alan Hale and ramrodded by Fairbanks. Vincent Price is part of the group, but he's killed off before a third of the film is done. But when the native porters bring back medicine to help him possibly survive poison arrows, they also bring back his wife, now his widow Joan Bennett.
And Joan is dressing pretty chic for jungle travel, she's got all the guys panting after her. But when those headhunters who killed off Price come back, it's starting to look more like the Alamo.
Green Hell is a curious concoction that's part Trader Horn, part Rain, a little of the Alamo and a little of John Ford's Lost Patrol. Vincent Price as well as Fairbanks used to cheerfully make fun of this film.
What some people won't do for a friend.
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