A gang leader dumps her criminal boyfriend when he is convicted of robbery, but he recovers the stolen loot once he's released. In retaliation, the gang kidnaps his son and demands the money as ransom.
Joan Collins, Jayne Mansfield and Dan Dailey star in this engaging drama based on a novel by John Steinbeck. Three strangers - a stripper (Mansfield), an alcoholic wife (Collins) and a ... See full summary »
"Doctor" Jayne Mansfield is in Italy to show a peer her documentary about mating customs from around the world while at the same time having to deal with two bellhops who have an idea or two about mating with Jayne.
In 1896 it is announced that the Olympic Games will be revived in Athens. A young shepherd, Spiridon Loues, decides to enter the 26-mile marathon. Once in Athens, he meets Christina Gratsos... See full summary »
A businessman plans to solve his tax problems by financing a film version of "Romeo and Juliet". He hires Maurice Chevalier and Jayne Mansfield to play the title roles, and Akim Tamiroff to... See full summary »
A blonde actress is murdered across from a bar. An off-duty cop has been getting pleasantly sloshed, but becomes worried about his innocence when he finds out he was seen leaving the establishment with a blonde, but doesn't remember. As he investigates, he interviews a columnist who was going with the actress, a caricaturist who drew the victim, the caricaturist's wife who works at the bar, and the caricaturist's lover, and slowly begins to put the pieces of the deadly puzzle together.Written by
Ed Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Undeniable brilliance oozes out of L.A.'s Poverty Row
One night outside a seedy LA bar, a sexy blonde Hollywood starlet is strangled to death by an unseen, shadowy figure. Naturally the cops are baffled, and one cop in particular is having the queasy sensation that he himself might be the killer. That cop has good reason to suspect himself because he's played by Lawrence Tierney--and Detective Tierney spent that very evening in that very bar drinking himself into Blackout Land (an uncanny nod to the particular problem that sent the actor tumbling down to poverty row). After being summarily dressed down for his repeated drunkenness, Tierney is then inexplicably asked to lend his questionable expertise to solving the murder.
What then begins is a bizarrely claustrophobic nightmare chase to the end of the line, offering up a host of potential other suspects. Could it have been the sinister Hollywood gossip columnist (John Carradine) who helped make the starlet's career and was then casually dumped by her? How about the oddball caricature artist (Burt Kaiser) who had recently drawn the starlet's likeness and was one of the last people to see her alive? And what about the caricaturist's wife who just happens to work at the bar? Let's not forget about Tierney's drunken cop who staggers his way through this nocturnal labyrinth with all the conviction of a man staring down at the bottom of an empty bottle. And how does Candy, the gorgeously voluptuous call girl (Jayne Mansfield in her screen debut) who's been sexually involved with both the artist and the cop figure into all of this? Perhaps it's best to not to be overly concerned with the storyline, which is deliriously beneath pulp trash, and relish the demented visual poetry of cinematographer Elwood "Woody" Bredell, himself no stranger to the dark confines of the noir universe, with 1940s classics like PHANTOM LADY, THE KILLERS, SMOOTH AS SILK, and THE UNSUSPECTED lurking on his resume. (Bredell was 70 when he shot FEMALE JUNGLE, which would be his final feature film. He died in 1976 at age 91.) And this is precisely why FEMALE JUNGLE is such an important film, for it relentlessly discards any use for logic in favor of the inhabitation of its own deranged nightmare world. Bredell invests the film with such strikingly abstract imagery that it's impossible to attribute its surreal look and feel to the accidental good fortune of its nearly non-existent budget--as many of the film's detractors have done. Rather, it is a pure distillation of the totality of the noir ethos and much more resonant with the thrill of death and doom than any other 1950s film outside the realm of Nicholas Ray.
FEMALE JUNGLE was the first film directed by Bruno Ve Sota. And despite having directed only two others (THE BRAIN EATERS (58) and INVASION OF THE STAR CREATURES (62)) his career was fairly deep as an actor, appearing in such disreputable (and legendary) films as DEMENTIA (55, aka DAUGHTER OF HORROR, which he also co-produced and allegedly co-directed), a bunch of classic 50s Roger Corman films, namely THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, ROCK ALL NIGHT, WAR OF THE SATELLITES, BUCKET OF BLOOD, THE WASP WOMAN and ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES as well as the Arch Hall, Jr. teen trasher THE CHOPPERS (61; Leigh Jason), and the tres obscure beatnik noir THE CAT BURGLAR (61; William Witney).
Shot in 1955, FEMALE JUNGLE was picked up for distribution by Sam Arkoff and James Nicholson's fledgling American International Pictures (then briefly known as ARC) and released in early 1956 as the second half of a double bill, beneath a Roger Corman western THE OKLAHOMA WOMAN. Ve Sota, oddly enough, has a small role in that film, too.
But it is FEMALE JUNGLE, an imaginatively ambitious and unapologetically naked excursion to the darkest regions of film noir, that we will remember Bruno Ve Sota for—and deservedly so.
This highly recommended film is not available on a US DVD (a UK one does exist, though). It came out on a VHS tape from RCA / Columbia in the early 90s and turns up on eBay every now and then. Jump on it when it does.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this