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The Naked Jungle
The Naked Jungle
Actors: Charlton Heston, Eleanor Parker, Abraham Sofaer, William Conrad, Romo Vincent
Director: Byron Haskin
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2004     1hr 35min

In THE NAKED JUNGLE, Charlton Heston plays the powerful, brooding owner of a plantation in the wild and treacherous South American jungle, while Eleanor Parker plays his charming American mail order bride. He is wary of t...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Charlton Heston, Eleanor Parker, Abraham Sofaer, William Conrad, Romo Vincent
Director: Byron Haskin
Creators: Ernest Laszlo, Frank Freeman Jr., George Pal, Ben Maddow, Carl Stephenson, Philip Yordan, Ranald MacDougall
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Classics, Classics, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Paramount
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/09/2004
Original Release Date: 03/03/1954
Theatrical Release Date: 03/03/1954
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 35min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 15
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Movie Reviews

Get you antenna off me you damn, dirty ants!
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 11/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I once had an unpleasant experience with some fire ants in Florida many years ago, involving my ill-fated decision to take a rest under the shade of a palm tree, only to discover I had sat squarely on a bunch of the red devils, and they seemed none to happy about that (I guess I can't really blame them, as I would probably be upset being squashed by a comparatively giant bottom myself). The lesson learned there was watch where you sit. Watching producer George Pal's The Naked Jungle (1954) brought back memories of my less than enjoyable experience, as soon I begin rubbing at welts long since gone. Wonderfully directed by Byron Haskin (Treasure Island, The War of the Worlds), The Naked Jungle stars an excellent Charlton Heston (Ben Hur, Touch of Evil), Eleanor Parker (Scaramouche), William (TV's Frank Canon, P.I.) Conrad and a whole lotta ants (imagine a column of voracious ants two miles long and twenty miles wide...we're gonna need the industrial size Raid)...or, Marabunta, as they're often referred to within the movie.

The film, which takes place deep in the South American jungle, begins with a rather refined looking lady completely out of place on a funky river barge traveling deep in the heart of the jungle. The woman's name is Joanna Leiningen (Parker), and she's on her way to meet her husband, Christopher Leiningen (Heston), at his expansive cocoa plantation. They've never met before, as Christopher, who's spent the last fifteen years or so building his plantation so deep in the jungle has not had time to find a wife, so he arranged for his brother, who was stateside, to find an appropriate woman to which he could marry by proxy and then she would eventually travel to the plantation and set up residence. The newlyweds finally meet, and things don't go very well as Christopher, who's lived in the jungle for awhile (perhaps too long) has misgivings about his new wife, as certain details about her past are revealed. Joanna, a strong-willed woman, chaffs against Christopher's somewhat chauvinistic expectations, but does try to find her place, as she believes the choice to enter into this arrangement was right, but now seems for naught as Christopher decides she should return to the states, that is until it's learned that the Marabunta (normally content to dwell within their mounds, but every once in awhile, like 20 years or so, they organize and ravage the surrounding countryside) are cutting a swath through the jungle, with Christopher's plantation directly in their path, restricting any travel whatsoever, and problems of martial incompatibility become small potatoes against the approaching horde devouring everything they come upon, vegetation, animals, humans (death by hundreds of thousands of tiny, little bites? Seems a particularly nasty way to go...), etc.

I really enjoyed this film. The characters were well written, and are presented in an intelligent, engaging manner. The level of development of the characters of Christopher and Joanna was interesting and fills out pretty much the first half of the film. The second half is mostly comprised of the arrival of the ants, and the feeble efforts to stop this seemingly unstoppable force, first protecting the plantation, but soon for their own survival. Heston is excellent as Christopher, a man dedicated to realizing his dream, wrenching it (respectfully) from the living jungle, and the unquestioned master of his world, forced to contend with someone who isn't meant to be controlled (Joanna) and a menace that can't be controlled (the ants). He's basically a good man, but given his inexperience with women, his isolation from the outside world, and his accustomed complete authority over most all things within his domain, he's completely unprepared for a woman the likes of Joanna, even though it may be the thing he needs most. I thought Eleanor Parker did extremely well (and she certainly ain't bad to look at). Before this film, I was unfamiliar with her work, but she presented a wonderful character in Joanna, a stubborn woman with a past who believes she's found her purpose, even if it means living isolated from everything she knew, working to change the seemingly simplistic and maybe even unrealistic attitudes of her new husband (apparently he was looking for a trophy wife, but got a whole lot more than he bargained for with Joanna). It was really wonderful to see these two clash within character, and I really can't imagine anyone else in their roles after seeing the film. The threat of the ants was done very well, and appeared very realistic, especially through the use of matte paintings depicting the destruction caused as they scoured the landscape. It's hard to visualize something as small as an ant causing so much damage, but when you see billions of them swarming over everything and anything, it certainly seems possible. Haskin's direction really kept my interest throughout the film, and he was certainly helped by having highly professional and experienced actors involved in the project. All in all, an excellent feature with a climatic and satisfying conclusion.

The film on this DVD is presented in the full screen format, which, I believe is as it was originally released, and then later changed to wide screen (the wide screen format became more popular as the 50's wore on, as theaters transitioned to accommodate it). The picture is clear and sharp and the audio is very good, but there are absolutely no special features included in this release, not even the usual theatrical trailer. Perhaps we'll see a special edition released at a later date, as it seems more and more (much to my annoyance) studios release a barebones version first, and then later release a `special edition', allowing them to increase their profits, that is if those of us who bought the original see fit to purchase the product again with the enticements of more features, essentially making us believe the `upgrade' is worth buying. Oh well...

M. Ferrer | SPAIN | 10/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The 50's were the great time for Technicolor, exotic adventures and intense stories. This film has all of this ...and more.

A wealthy,dark, handsome plantation-owner, Chistopher Leiningen welcome his mail-order bride. She is sophisticated, elegant and to his great concern extremely beautiful. Sparks fly since the begining and after memorable dialogues, about pianos and perfumes , and second hand roses, our heros must face the ultimate danger: Marabunta.

This is not maybe a very famous film, and probably will never be considered one of the masterworks of the Seventh Art, but is one of those you always watch in delight.

The cast just suits perfectly. Charlton Heston is...well he is Charlton. He is good opening the waters of the Red Sea or fighting against a lot of Chinese in Pekin. As usual he exploits his natural masculinity to create this man who has created an oasis in the middle of the jungle, but about women is a virginal man.

Eleanor Parker is probably one of the most elegant actress of her generation. Only she is able to pass though the jungle with a white gown and look perfectly well. She matches Heston with a woman who has little to lose but only will accept her terms of "surrender".

And William Conrand is excellent. Showing the temperance a good commisioner requires and acting as the amused witness in the developement of the situation.

This one of those films you always enjoy and that proves that a good story and good dialogues are basic to create a film."
An entertaining little known adventure film
Eric | Tennessee | 04/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Naked Jungle is a surprisingly likeable movie. From the title, one either believes it's an erotic film or a comedy, both of which it is neither. The film is actually a mixture of romance and adventure, along with some doses of action and suspense and the combination is well done.Eleanor Parker stars as Joanna Leinengen, a strong-willed, beautiful, and independent young woman who has been married via mail to Christopher Leinengen, played by Charlton Heston. He owns and lives in his plantation in South America so she travels by boat from the United States to meet him for the very first time. When she arrives, they don't get off to a very good start and Christopher ignores quite a bit and treats her without respect. However, as the time goes by romantic feelings begin to develop between them. But a problem is beginning to grow in the jungle. A 20 mile long, 2 mile wide line of soldier ants is headed for Christopher's plantation and is devouring everything in its path. Now, Christopher and Joanna must think quickly and defend their home from the tiny predators.I honestly had no idea what this movie was about when I popped it into the VCR. It's truly a pleasant surprise as the romance in the film is well done with a lot of chemistry between Parker and Heston. Each deliver superb performances.There's a switch in tone nearly 2/3's the way through this movie (it's 96 minutes long without end credits), from romance/drama to action/adventure and suspense when the ants begin to invade. The developing tension is taut and fast paced. One might get the feeling that a movie with this kind of plot might be rather cheesy but that's not the case with The Naked Jungle. Every moment is well-executed with competent direction and a good script to boot. For jungle adventure and romance, The Naked Jungle is a fine choice."
South American "Heel With A Heart" vs. The Ants Plus Eleanor
janet whitcomb | CA | 08/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Lydia Heston, Charlton Heston's wife, once identified many of his most successful roles as being "heel with a heart" characterizations. "The Naked Jungle" is an excellent example of this theory . . . and also a damn fine movie, adapted from the classic short story, "Leningen vs. the Ants." Christopher Leningen is a determined and very lonely young man who has carved out a plantation (product: cocoa beans) and now is looking for a wife. Through his brother (who we do not see), he finds a wife and marries her by proxy, then has her brought to the plantation. As played by Eleanor Parker (the fine actress of "Caged," known by "Sound of Music" fans as Elsa the arch-villainess), Joanna is just as strong-willed as Christopher . . . resulting in a considerable psychological war-of-the-sexes. The excellent script, superb direction, and wonderful production values all add to make this a terrific viewing experience . . . and don't look now, but there's William Conrad, the classic radio actor and television star! "Elephant Walk," with an also excellent cast of Peter Finch, Elizabeth Taylor and Dana Andrews, was coincidentally released the same year and has a similar theme, but "The Naked Jungle" remains the better movie, not just for the reasons mentioned, but also because the physical enemy is far more unlikely. (Hint: You'll get the urge to itch before the end of "Naked Jungle"!) Don't be mislead by the title; this is not a cheesy, exploitational film, although some nice metaphoric language in the script, plus the tremendous physicality of Heston and Parker, create some obvious erotic tension. Not exactly the ultimate movie about South America, as one reviewer claimed, and not the imperialist fantasy that another reviewer stated, but a great adventure yarn featuring two strong people going up against the elements . . . and themselves."