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Harry L. Fraser, the writer and one of the producers of this movie, was
also the writer of Perils of the Jungle, the 1927 serial from which he
took the archive footage. The serial did have good animal scenes, so
it's hard to fault Fraser for finding a way to recycle what would
otherwise be badly outdated and unusable silent footage. The problem,
as every other commentator has noted, is the impossibility of
integrating the two films smoothly, and the terrible plot -- if there
is a plot -- of the new footage.
Frank Merrill, the hero of the 1927 serial, did play Tarzan in two later movies, Tarzan the Mighty and Tarzan the Tiger, but he was playing a different and unrelated character in Perils of the Jungle.
Crash Corrigan, the hero of the new wrap-around movie, made a specialty of playing gorillas, and he often played other roles in the movies in which he donned the gorilla suit, but I believe this may be the only movie in which his human character directly confronts his animal character.
Just when you start to think this film isn't as bad as it sounds, it gets as bad as it sounds. It doesn't bother me that there's more stock footage than there is new footage, but it does bother me that they used the same stock footage clips two, three, & four times each! The narrator is integrated into the storyline verbally, but of course can't be integrated into the storyline physically, because the stock footage which comprises the main storyline is based on a 20 year old (at the time) silent movie! To get around this minor problem, the narrator takes the role of a voyeur. He's constantly hiding in the bushes, "observing" others (who of course can't see him because his footage won't be shot for another 20 years or so after they finished filming their part). The narrator rambles on constantly about why he didn't take a shot at the lions who were trying to eat humans, or why he didn't do this or do that. That would be OK, too, but after a while it just makes the narrator (who's the supposed "hero" of the film) seem like a wimp. The real hero of the film is a fellow named "Bennett" (actually Tarzan in the silent serial). There's lots of loose ends that are never tied up (like exactly what happened to Bennett, the Voodoo Priestess, & the little Jungle Boy). There's several fights between the Bad Black Gorilla & the Bad White Gorilla that are never resolved. They fight, then the narration goes elsewhere, then the two gorillas bump into each other again, act surprised, & start fighting again. When you mix all this nonsense together, you come out with one Good Campy Fun movie that must have had an influence on Ed Wood. The "African" wildlife scenes (from the silent serial) are actually pretty good, although non-African animals (like tigers & orangutans) are mixed in just to keep the viewer guessing at which continent this film actually takes place. I guess my favorite scene is the one in which Bennett has to save a damsel in distress from a newly discovered animal: a meat eating hippo! A word of caution to parents: although this film is certainly good fun for the kids, too, the Something Weird Video version contains several shorts after the feature, which contain full nudity, which is not stated on the video box.
This film is similar to Al Adamson's Horror of the Blood Monsters or the
film They Saved Hitler's Brain in that it uses existing stock footage
(presumably found very cheaply but shot years earlier)and then stuck
together with new footage shot years later with a completely different
Somehow the people in the new film are to interact with the people in the
old film. When done seriously (as in these three films) this sort of
paste up hatchet job hodge podge mess of a concept can produce amazingly
Even though the new footage is from the mid 1940's, its obvious the old footage is from a silent movie from the 1920's and does not match. The old footage also seems to have been transferred at the wrong speed in places. The White Gorilla Black Gorilla fight scenes (from the 1945 footage) are hilarious. That is if you do not think too deeply and see this as a visionary prediction of future race riots in the 1960's.
The production values of the old footage (said to be from a Tarzan serial) are really pretty good. However, the 1945 footage is worthy of Ed Wood Jr. and some ideas in these sequences with the Gorillas (and the pretty woman) seem to turn up 13 years later in Ed Wood's The Bride and The Beast. Adrian Weiss was the Producer of both, so there is a connection. And its safe to say fans of Ed Wood films, and serious students of bad films, would want to see movie.
How cheaply can you make a movie?
Take a couple of actors, have them shoot a few scenes, then splice them in to scenes lifted from a silent film and you've saved a fortune.
Such is the case of this story of a jungle expedition gone wrong. Told mostly in flashback by a survivor of the ill fated trip this is a movie that gives penny pinching a rich reputation.
Almost the entire film is told in voice over narration and its a scream. Its perfectly awful and a great deal of fun to listen to. The movie itself is a bad movie lovers dream as mismatched silent footage is put together in some really interesting ways. A small white kid travels on the trunk of an elephant, a group of native villagers bounce about at the wrong frame speed, and our hero watches it all in footage with a different grain and normal running speed.
This is a bad movie thats fun.Grab the popcorn and some friends and feel free to add your own commentary.
Warning: this is not a good movie in the conventional sense. If you want a good movie look elsewhere, but if you want a bad rib tickler look no farther.
Fascinatingly awful, this composite of Ray Corrigan (as the gorilla)
waylaying Ray Corrigan (as the hero), interspersed with an
extraordinary amount of cheesily acted old serial footage, has to be
seen to be believed. Sad to say, the hero of the serial is Frank
Merrill, a champion gymnast who was still a household name when I was
growing up. Mind you, the chubby little jungle boy, riding on the trunk
of a real elephant, does a creditable turn, but the rest of the serial
players, especially including hero Merrill, heroine Gilbert and heavy
Belmour (or Belmore) are strictly from hunger, enacting in a weirdly
exaggerated style that went out of fashion around 1910. On the other
hand, the animal footage of snapping lions would be still tolerably
exciting, but it's ruined by poor presentation at the wrong speed.
As for the talkative framing story of the white gorilla, it will enthrall only Mr Corrigan's keenest fans. Production values can only be described as Poverty Row minus. It's sad to see Francis Ford, Lorraine Miller and an unflatteringly photographed Charles King mixed up, however briefly, in this charade.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Did you ever play that game where someone starts a story and then turns
it over to the next person to carry it forward, and so on? Well that
looks pretty much how "The White Gorilla" was put together, with this
requirement - each story teller has to introduce a new person, and must
include either a lion or an elephant in their segment. That would
explain characters like the trunk riding elephant boy and his mother
who acts insane to control the tiger men; really, I'm not making this
up. By the end of the story, there's no resolution to the fate of these
characters, they just drop out of the story along the way as if someone
forgot all about them.
Ray Corrigan is certainly no stranger to ape films of the 1940's, he appeared as the man in the gorilla suit for a whole slew of these jungle epics. Here he's actually top billed for portraying both the outcast white gorilla and the story's narrator, Steve Collins. It's genuinely comical that Collins describes the on screen action from the vantage point of a treetop or some other hidden location. The technique allows him to see through jungle forests and the walls of caves as if he had X-Ray vision. Of course the reason for this, as I've come to learn from this forum, is that the film was spliced together with scenes from the 1927 silent film, "Perils of the Jungle".
Ray Corrigan and director Harry L. Fraser both made their marks years earlier in a fair share of 'B' Westerns each. Oddly, this film was the only time they crossed paths. Fraser managed to direct John Wayne in two Lone Star films in the 1930's - "'Neath The Arizona Skies" and "Randy Rides Alone".
When the film's "ultimate" battle between the titled white gorilla and a fearsome black gorilla eventually occurs, it's very much a disappointment. They wind up sort of wrestling each other in a contest that has no resolution, in fact it happens a couple of times. Corrigan's turn as a gorilla in "White Pongo" on the other hand had a genuinely creative slug fest against his opponent, using uprooted trees as weapons, definitely a livelier contest. For that reason, I'd have to give "White Pongo" the edge in viewer satisfaction over this film. In fact, I'd probably have to give virtually any other ape movie the edge over "The White Gorilla". I say virtually, because there's at least one that's definitely worse - "King of Kong Island".
"A rare white gorilla is shunned by the rest of the gorillas due to its
unique nature and is forced to live a life of solitude. The time alone
makes the gorilla hate all other primates and turns it into a murderous
monster. A final confrontation between the white gorilla and his former
tribe's leader will decide the fate of all of Africa," according to the
DVD sleeve's synopsis.
Ray "Crash" Corrigan (as Steve Collins) extensively recalls seeing the 1927 serial "Perils of the Jungle", which had noting to do with "The White Gorilla" in his present form (as Ray Corrigan). To wit, Mr. Corrigan witnesses his "friend" Frank Merrill (as Ed Bradford) in the old silent serial. Mr. Merrill, who also played "Tarzan", must have got a kick out of seeing himself co-starring in a new movie, after almost 20 years of retirement from film. The opening credits promise an "All-Star Cast", but neither Bing Crosby nor Greer Garson appear in this movie. The 1927 footage is better than the newer parts.
* The White Gorilla (1945) Harry L. Fraser ~ Ray Corrigan, Lorraine Miller, Frank Merrill
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you're looking for one of those "So bad it's good" movies, this definitely fits into that category. I've seen nearly every movie Ed Wood ever made, as well as numerous other stinkers in my day, but I never recall having the experience I had last night watching this film. After watching "Plan 9 From Outer Space", I suspected I had just seen the worst film ever made. But at the end of "The White Gorilla" I was firmly convinced that I had just watched the worst movie ever made. Acting, directing, story, dialog, editing,... you name it, they all are bottom of the barrel and come together to make this train-wreck of a jungle/adventure film. The film seemed to be 70% recycled footage from the silent serial "Perils of the Jungle", 20% stock footage of jungle animals, and 10% new footage which consists mainly of Ray "Crash" Corrigan slumped in a chair, recovering from an encounter with the albino ape of the title, narrating an incomprehensible story about the white gorilla and a safari that ultimately is eaten by tigers. If you have this film on tape or DVD, I'd suggest watching this film with the whole family, and then when the kids are misbehaving, threaten to make them watch it again.
Anybody who thinks Bela Lugosi's poverty row horrors represent the
absolute pits of 40s film-making has yet to see The White Gorilla, a
piece of stinking crud of the cut-and-paste school of exploitation that
even makes Jerry Warren's Creature of the Walking Dead start to look
good. You may even begin to regret unkind words you've had for
cut-and-paste 80s ninja pap peddler Godfrey Ho.
Any giggles at how bad this movie is will soon subside into yawns and groans as the sixty soul-scarring minutes of animal stock footage and recycled silent movie scenes take their toll on the viewer's dignity. The only reason it gets a rating of 3 from me, as opposed to a 1 or 2, is the occasional appearance of the guy in the white gorilla suit with the unusually large posterior.
"With every bone in my body aching, I limped away," the protagonist says at one point. You will likely feel much the same after sitting through all of The White Gorilla, a barnstorming candidate for IMDb's Bottom 100 list if ever there was one.
This film begins in a very weird jungle. It is probably the loudest one
in the history of film, as many, many different animals constantly
scream in the background--sounding like a group of people are running
around the zoo throwing rocks at the animals simultaneously!! You also
may notice that the animals you see in stock footage are from the US,
Africa AND Asia. Additionally, most of the clips are clearly from a
silent movie series (PERILS OF THE JUNGLE) as these segments run way
too fast (silent films run at 16-22 frames per second and sound at
24--so silent films always look a bit too fast when played on modern
projectors). What a totally bizarre jungle and it's amazing that the
film makers took so little care in these scenes.
As for our "hero", Ray Corrigan, he narrates most of the film in a very flat tone. Additionally, when he recounts to his friends his exploits, he mostly just stands around as all the others in his party are killed or abducted. Some hero! Overall, there really isn't a film--just lots of old clips, a little irrelevant new material and some guy running about in a white gorilla suit! Frankly, it's boring and pointless--and not even entertaining--even for bad film buffs. A total bomb from start to finish.
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