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Cobra Woman (1944)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 12 May 1944 (USA)
Upon discovering his fiancée Tollea has been kidnaped, Ramu and his friend Kado set out for a Pacific isle where all strangers are to be killed on arrival and the inhabitants, who are ... See full summary »


Robert Siodmak


Gene Lewis (screenplay), Richard Brooks (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Maria Montez ... Tollea / Naja
Jon Hall ... Ramu
Sabu ... Kado
Edgar Barrier ... Martok
Mary Nash ... Queen
Lois Collier ... Veeda
Samuel S. Hinds ... Father Paul
Moroni Olsen ... MacDonald
Lon Chaney Jr. ... Hava (as Lon Chaney)


Upon discovering his fiancée Tollea has been kidnaped, Ramu and his friend Kado set out for a Pacific isle where all strangers are to be killed on arrival and the inhabitants, who are frequently sacrificed to an angry volcano god, worship the cobra. The island is ruled over by Tollea's evil twin Naja, the Cobra Woman, who, besides having designs on her new prisoner Ramu, also desires to eliminate any competition from her benevolent sister. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


EXOTIC LOVE! (original poster) See more »


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

12 May 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Mulher Serpente See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Filmmaker Kenneth Anger named it his favorite film. See more »


At the start of the film, Tollea's wrist is shown in close up with the two bloody cobra fang-marks visible. In the next, slightly longer, shot no such marks are visible. See more »


[repeated line]
Tollea: I have SPOKEN!
See more »


Featured in The Thoughts That Once We Had (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

Comic strip come to life
22 April 2015 | by Igenlode WordsmithSee all my reviews

This is an absolutely unashamed B-movie... and about as sophisticated as can be expected of any picture featuring a beautiful, wicked snake-priestess, human sacrifice into a volcano, good and evil twins separated in infancy, a gigantic mute assassin, a lost heir(ess), a cobra-worshipping cult and a pet ape wearing a skirt for decency! It's technicoloured in more ways than one -- this is the pulp fantasy material of boys' comic papers come to life, and wouldn't be out of place as a lost novel by Robert Howard or Rider Haggard. Just about everyone sports a bare midriff at the slightest provocation, most of the women spend the entire picture clad in a skimpy band of material round their top half, and Sabu wears next to nothing throughout thanks to a magnificent young physique.

As the reader may have gathered, most of it is unabashed fun. There are a couple of suggestions that hint at something deeper: the idea that perhaps Tollea really ought to stay and improve life for her people instead of marrying her rescuer, for example (though the final outcome makes sense -- she was only ever herself a pawn in the hands of the would-be reformers, after all), and, despite the missionary upbringing of the main protagonists, an unexpected treatment of the cobra cult as a genuine religion, where offending the Powers can have consequences and people deserve to worship as they see fit.

The special effects are rather better on the costume front than they are where dangerous items are concerned, although there is a brave attempt at showing an advancing lava front by merely illustrating its effects, which works surprisingly well. The dialogue veers wildly between pidgin and fluent English as spoken by the same character at different times (sometimes within the same speech) -- it would be nice to think that this reflected an attempt to show whether they are trying to communicate in English or addressing others in their own native tongue, but I suspect it wasn't thought out in that much detail! Otherwise, the main criticism I'd make is that the final fight goes on perceptibly too long and in too repetitive a way: it could, with advantage and with more credibility, have been cut by several minutes to provide a more explosive climax.

But the film is thoroughly enjoyable for what it is. It has no pretensions to be anything more, and the characters generally look as if they're having a good time (when not being tortured, threatened with death, etc.) Sabu plays the hero's mischievous sidekick without a hint of embarrassment and tends to steal every scene in which he appears. Lon Chaney Jr has presence. Maria Montez plays a naive South Seas islander and a power-crazed priestess with aplomb and smoulders out of the screen (her snake dance in a scintillating costume is definitely a memorable scene).

Jon Hall makes an engaging romantic lead, though the plot suggests that the character is perhaps more honest than bright: his approach is generally to walk straight into danger and hope that circumstances will work out in his favour. Occasionally they do (this is the sort of film, after all, where you can walk straight into the inner sanctums of the palace after changing clothes with a high official, and nobody so much as notices) but generally he needs rescuing from the consequences!

I wouldn't actually describe this an unmissable camp classic, not because it's too bad but because it isn't. It's a perfectly good piece of entirely escapist entertainment which was never intended to be taken seriously, and while it has zero emotional depth it's easy on the eye.

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