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Patrick Schoenmaker

Indiana Jones' Influences
Classic Adventures
Zorro Rides Again
Zorro's Fighting Legion
Gunga Din

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Secret of the Incas
The Naked Jungle
Valley of the Kings
Lawrence of Arabia
MacKenna's Gold
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Help Support Research Indy's Influences Inspirations The Naked Jungle
The Naked Jungle
The Naked Jungle

Released by Paramount Pictures - 1954

Directed by: Byron Haskin
Story by: Carl Stephenson
Screenplay by: Ranald MacDougall, Ben Maddow screenplay, Philip Yordan
Produced by: Frank Freeman Jr.

Eleanor Parker .... Joanna Leiningen
Charlton Heston .... Christopher Leiningen
Abraham Sofaer .... Incacha
William Conrad .... Commissioner


Legend says that Charlton Heston gave us the original Indiana Jones in Paramount's 1954 movie, Secret of the Incas. Well, it comes as quite the surprise that the very same year another Paramount film Heston would appear in would become the main influence for the "swarm" sequence in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. That's right. See The Naked Jungle and you will see which 1950s B-movie inspired the Amazonian ant swarms in Indy's fourth adventure.

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Parker versus Heston.

This movie had me hooked from the first frames when I saw it years ago. The beautiful Eleanor Parker plays Joanna, a New Orleans woman of some repute, who travels to South America as Heston’s mail-order bride. Heston, as Leiningen, runs a cocoa plantation deep in the Amazon jungle. When Joanna arrives, Leiningen is less than pleased. She’s beautiful, but a widow, and Leiningen has no intention of marrying “another man’s leavings” as he puts it to Joanna.

The entire first half of the film is the easily some of the most shocking dialogue spoken from a man to a woman in cinema. Leiningen is like a steel hammer. He’s blunt, coarse, unfeeling, and often outright cruel. Heston gives an amazing performance. He’s beyond Moses in this role, and taking the idea of unreasonable purity and conviction to psychologically catastrophic levels.

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Exploring the jungle.

Parker steels herself well. As a woman unjustly loathed and now trapped in Leiningen’s jungle while he plans for her deportation back to New Orleans, it's not the easiest role to convincingly play. Parker's performance allows no room for question. It's like she's living the role on screen.

Leiningen's plan to send Joanna away gets indefinitely delayed when he discovers that a literal army of billions of killer ants, called Marabunta, are swarming through the jungle, devouring everything in their path and Leiningen’s plantation is in their way.

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Marabunta discovery.

The only drawback is the ending. Don't get me wrong. It's not a bad ending at all. It just feels a little rushed when compared to the build-up, but in the 1950s films were more about the build than the extended finishes we have in movies today (which usually stink - no one can end a movie anymore). The Naked Jungle has a very satisfying ending all the same.

I'll say no more. The movie is too good to ruin. Check it out, and if the film doesn’t resonate with you, hey, Parker is still easy on the eyes and you also get another Indiana Jones history lesson! (MF)


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