Highlights in this one include a fist-fight between Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe (I won't give away the winner, but check the cast order); a cat-fight between Virginia Grey and ... See full summary »
William H. Pine
The Tarzan story from Jane's point of view. Jane Parker visits her father in Africa where she joins him on an expedition. A couple of brief encounters with Tarzan establish a (sexual) bond ... See full summary »
There is this little small-island kingdom located off the South China coast and the United States offers a pact of economic aid and military assistance if needed. But there is this Asiatic ... See full summary »
Lady scientist, Hilary Parker is searching for a rare drug to help combat polio. Opportunist Bruce Edwards joins the quest but is actually after gold and buried treasure. Written by
Herman Seifer <email@example.com>
Alex Raymond was the co-creator of the "Jungle Jim" newspaper strip in 1934, but King Features owned the character. There was no writer's created mention on this film. Instead, there is the following: "Based upon the newspaper feature 'Jungle Jim', owned and copyrighted by King Features Syndicate which appears regularly in "Puck", the Comic Weekly. See more »
The film is set in Africa, but in one scene an orangutan is shown climbing a tree. Orangutans are not found in Africa, only in Malaysia. See more »
JUNGLE JIM (Columbia, 1948), directed by William Berke, introduces Olympic swimming champion, Johnny Weissmuller, in the title role based on Alex Raymond's comic strip character. After a span of sixteen years and twelve films enacting his most famous one of all, that of "Tarzan" for both Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1932-42) and RKO Radio (1943-48), Weissmuller, assumed a new jungle hero in another theatrical series. Though not in the same league as the "Tarzan" adventures, especially those made over at at MGM, "Jungle Jim" served as the type of entertainment popular for the Saturday matinée crowd. Although "Jungle Jim" was first introduced on screen in a weekly 12-chapter serial format for Universal in 1936 starring Grant Withers, it's the one portrayed by Weissmuller that's better known to many.
In this initial entry, which opens with off-screen narration, a frightful native is seen running through the jungle, soon attacked by a leopard, as witnessed by monkeys sitting on trees. Jungle Jim (Johnny Weissmuller), a white hunter, arrives too late to rescue him. Noticing the dead man's hand still clutching onto a small golden vile inscribed with hieroglyphic writing, Jim has it analyzed. The vile, revealed by Geoffrey Marsden (Holmes Herbert), a district commissioner of Nagandi, to be from ancient times containing gummy dark substance, a poison that's not only a cure for infantile paralysis, but the key to the hidden treasure buried in the temple of Zimbalu. Jungle Jim is soon hired as a guide for Hilary Parker (Virginia Grey), a scientist out to obtain the valuable drug in Zimbalu for her experiments. Also on the expedition are tribesmen, Kolu (Rick Vallin) and his sister, Zia (Lita Baron), a native dancer with a crush on Jim. Trouble lurks when Bruce Edwards (George Reeves), a photographer who had squandered away his fortune appears, staging a series of "accidents" to rid Jungle Jim and the safari in order to obtain the treasure for himself.
With a new character in familiar surroundings, Jungle Jim is very much like Tarzan, only fully clothed and conversing in complete sentences. The screenplay carries on in the "Tarzan" tradition by having Jungle Jim battling leopards, sea serpents, crocodiles and a hungry lion inside a pit; saving damsels in distress from wild animals, elephant stampedes (through stock footage) and sphere throwing natives; and attempts saving tribesmen, held captive hanging upside-down by their rope tied ankles before being sacrificed. As a reminder from the "Tarzan" movies, Jim does underwater swimming (in bathing suit instead of loincloth) with Zia (Lita Baron)in the manner Tarzan did with his mate, Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan), at MGM. While Tarzan had a chimpanzee named Cheta as comedy relief, much of the same is devoted to Jungle Jim's animal companions, Caw Caw (the large black crow) and Skipper (a dog). Without their antics, this 73 minute adventure might have served as a 55 minute featurette.
What makes JUNGLE JIM watchable is not only the pairing of Weissmuller and George Reeves, but having Reeves, best known as TV's "Superman" from the 1950s, as a villain. Virginia Grey, as a serious-minded scientist sporting pulled back hair and glasses, logging her daily report on a typewriter (amusingly key pecked by Caw Caw at one point), makes her third and final appearance with Weissmuller, following TARZAN'S NEW YORK ADVENTURE (MGM, 1942) and Weissmuller's first non-Tarzan role of SWAMP FIRE (Paramount, 1946). With Grey's character not being Jim's "idea of a scientist," their differences of opinion finds them at odds with one another, adding some amusement to the screenplay by Carroll Young. Grey's Hilary Parker breaks away from her librarian appearance by showing off her womanly figure in bathing suit in her attempt to attract Jungle Jim's attention away from Zia. JUNGLE JIM is most enjoyable when not taken seriously, as indicated by its situations at hand.
While many of the plots provided in subsequent "Jungle Jim" adventures were offbeat and forgettable, the one provided here is satisfactory, especially by the presence of troublesome Reeves. After the series expired, Weissmuller turned out to be the logical choice resuming his "Jungle Jim" role in television series that premiered in 1955, keeping him much in the public eye as "King of the Jungle."
The sixteen "Jungle Jim" movies, having been absent on the television screen since the 1970s (commonly broadcast on New York City's WNBC, Channel 4, between 1968 and 1972, as part of its late movie lineup of "The Great Great Show"), were brought back in later years on American Movie Classics (1997-2000). Turner Classic Movies brought forth three in the series May 27, 2009: JUNGLE MANHUNT (1951), THE FORBIDDEN LAND (1952), and of course the one that started it all, JUNGLE JIM. Next installment: THE LOST TRIBE (1949) (**)
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