Saturday, June 25, 2011
The elements that still appeal to me are the wild animal fights, crocodiles and crocodile pits, boa constrictors, men in ape costumes, elephant stampedes, vine swinging and lost kingdoms -- action, adventure, thrills & horror! Lost in the deepest jungle of darkest Africa the resourceful hero always finds a way to save the heroine from the sudden danger that lurks behind every bush.
During the last ten years I have been re-watching films I remember from my youth like Francis the Talking Mule, Ma and Pa Kettle, Charlie Chan, all the serials, B-westerns and so on. I am still looking for some jungle serial that I recall clearly and think I even saw twice on TV. The first chapter ends with a plane crash in the jungle. The second chapter ends with the hero and heroine on a narrow ledge in a deep pit full of crocodiles. They need to walk along this treacherous ledge to reach an escape door on the other side. Their footing crumbles... do they fall among the gators? For a long time I was sure this was one of the two Clyde Beatty serials, Mascot's Lost Jungle or the early Republic Darkest Africa, except when I watched them, no crocodile cliffhanger. Both serials do have crocodiles in pits. Lost Jungle's first chapter ends with a dirigible crashing. A later ending has Clyde hanging from the rim of the pit as he grapples with a bad guy, but no scene of that ledge. Perhaps I dreamed it all and recall the dream???
Searching for my lost serial that may not exist, I've seen some real losers in recent years. Queen of the Jungle (1935) with Mary Kornman lost as a child and growing up to lead a jungle tribe. The main interest was stock footage from a silent serial. Jungle Queen (1945), with Ruth Roman battling Nazi invaders. Jungle Raiders, 1945 Columbia serial with Kane Richmond.
You will never get used to the heroine, Dorothy Short, who screams at anything and constantly wanders off so a ferocious beast can chase her. In the middle they dress her in a tiger skin to match footage from some silent serial. This changes to a leopard skin outfit without comment, as pictured in a chapter ending. While Jan grapples on a ledge with a lion, Mona backs to the edge and falls into a river infested with snapping crocs!
It's a Universal serial so when they reach the lost city in chapter 10 action takes place on the Frankenstein castle set. They use the giant bells from the 1923 Hunchback of Notre Dame, but it is newly shot footage because the monkey climbs the rope and plays with the bells, the ringing of which saves all from being speared to death at the end of chapter 11.
You can order Call of the Savage HERE. Meanwhile, I'll keep looking for that crocodile ledge that scared me as a child.
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