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Franklin J. Schaffner
It's 1901. At 19, tough, stubborn Christopher Leiningen came to South America and built levees to claim thousands of acres of Rio Negro river land for a chocolate plantation. Now 34, with no knowledge of women, he recruits a mail-order bride in New Orleans. She's beautiful, independent, and arrives ready to be his stalwart helpmate; however, no one has told him she's a widow. He rejects her. During the next week, as she awaits the boat to take her back to the US, they learn that legions of army ants will strike in a few days' time. She joins the fight to save the plantation; their courage and his probable loss of all he's worked for may crack his resolve to send her away. Written by
William Conrad, who plays the commissioner in this movie, played the lead role of Leiningen in the 1948 radio play, "Leiningen vs. the Ants", the original story upon which this movie was based. See more »
During the first meeting/"confrontation" between Joanna and Christopher there comes a point in the conversation when he asks her if she is 'laughing at him.' As she turns from the dresser to face him at the very upper left corner for approx. 35 frames the moving shadow of what may well be a boom mic can easily be seen as it follows the motion. See more »
Given the fact that this is the Fifties and the Code was coming to an end, this is still a remarkably erotic film, almost Tennessee Williams like in its treatment of sexual issues.
Charlton Heston's Christopher Leiningen could have been created by Tennessee Willlams. He came to the South American jungles as a teenager and built up a plantation out of the jungle and it took him over 15 years to do it. He now decides to get himself a wife and begat some children.
Heston says so quite frankly he has pointedly refrained from indulging any lust with the native women because in his society there'a a nasty name for whites who do so. In keeping with his Tennessee Williams like character, he's from New Orleans so his attitude to darker skinned people is understandable.
He has his brother put in an advertisement for a mail order bride and Heston can't believe his luck when the drop dead gorgeous Eleanor Parker shows up on his door. She's not what you would picture a mail order bride to be. But then marital problems arise when he discovers she's a widow, used goods as the common phrase was back in the day.
Parker has a few of her own issues and that and Heston's inexperience in these matters lead to a rocky start and almost an ending. But then come the ants.
As District Commissioner William Conrad says, every generation or two something puts ants in the ants pants and up they come out of their ant hills and go on the march destroying every scrap of life before them. And man has found no way to stop them.
The ants kind of make everyone come together in a crisis. What they do is some of the most frightening stuff ever put on film.
If The Naked Jungle were made today it would be far more explicit about all the sexual problems than this version was. There might be better special effects. But you won't get better players than you will in Charlton Heston and Eleanor Parker as leads.
Unless they resurrected Tennessee Williams to write the screenplay.
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