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Olivia de Havilland,
Edward Everett Horton
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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>
I will propose here that some films have merit, and are worth watching even though they are horrible. I mean to exclude laughing at ineptness from the equation.
This is an example. It has three notable items, the first of which is where the allure resides.
It takes itself seriously. Really, the appeal of competence fades in the light of earnestness. As soon as it appeared, the participants realized it was a disaster, but you rarely know that when you are making the thing. It had name talent and a reasonable budget. The narrative stance has no irony or folds. It was intended to hit straight on, and even if the arrow did not score, it was shot with the intent to kill. And that matters.
The film world had long since developed a shorthand for black sexual malevolence by depicting the risky jungle. Two touchstones were "Kongo" and "King Kong" both of which exploited the (then) visceral fear from racism. The same is attempted here, but I do not believe that any of the natives are played by blacks. The effect is startling, a now comic understanding of how transference occurs. You have the deep seated fear of sexual arousal out of control in the American populace. Deep, and strong. That gets transferred to an innocent people, only recently by the time of this film. That in turn gets denoted in unambiguous ways by the jungle and jungle people in film. At each step, there is a trailing disconnect, so that by the time you get to this film, the people in the jungle do not have to remotely look native. (It is not Africa, but that is irrelevant.)
the script has all the elements. Sexual betrayal. Sexual competition (separately). Ancient magic attached to gold. Sexual imagery with phallic structures and blasting through walls to release floods. All the competitors (stereotypes) locked in a small space fighting the inevitability of death. It doesn't work, like "Kongo" does. But there sure as heck are all the parts.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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