Laughing Gravy | Sacramento, CA United States | 11/14/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"There's a time-tested rule of thumb around my household: no movie that begins with scenes of stock footage ever turns out to be any good. Another rule is that no movie that begins with the credit "Directed by Jean Yarbrough" is any good. Well, LAW OF THE JUNGLE is proof of both.
After a few opening minutes of grainy film of hairy critters clinging to trees, we meet Nona Brooks (Arline Judge), a rather plump singer who's stranded in the African port of Duakwa, a place so remote that the local newspaper advertises "Latest war news - only two months old." She's hoping a handsome American paleontologist (John "Dusty" King) can get her back to Brooklyn, but he's only interested in digging up some old bones with his assistant, Jefferson Jones (who must be and is Mantan Moreland). Arthur O'Connell is Ms. Judge's creepy boss, and he is so terrible in this picture, you wonder that he ever had a career at all after it. For some reason, he decides to emulate Peter Lorre, and it's just awful. When he finally gets killed, I was so happy I almost felt like I was watching a good movie, the way your feet feel really good when you finally take off a pair of ill-fitting shoes.
Anyway, everybody's roaming around through the back-lot jungle, including a couple of Nazi spies who are after the girl for reasons you won't care about. Mantan teaches the grunting African tribesman how to shoot craps, a gorilla attacks our band of hardy explorers, a tribe of cannibals captures the stars of the picture, and who really cares? Jeff refers to his boss as a "Paleon.... Paleon.... You know, a digger-upper." He also asks the tribesmen, "What is you ignorant Africans doing up at dis time o' night?" He has some good moments with Laurence Criner as "Chief Mojobo", an Oxford-educated African, but they come late in the picture and you'll be asleep.
Going into a Monogram film, the audience always has low expectations. So when the finished product doesn't live up to even those non-lofty aspirations, you know there's a problem. The film is dull when Mantan isn't onscreen, and fairly lackluster anyway when he is. John King, who was so good as ACE DRUMMOND a few years earlier, clearly is bored to tears by this stinker and walks through the part, not helping matters. And as for Arline Judge, well, early on she gets to warble a tune called "Jungle Moon" and it's so bad that the audience bursts into applause only a couple of lines into the song, prematurely ending the ditty. Would that they had done the same to this film.
larryj1 | AZ, USA | 05/22/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Good little Monogram film featuring the always great Mantan Moreland. The Alpha DVD is above average for them with only a few minor problems. Most importantly, there are no splices."