Friday, 2 June 2017

JUNGLE WOMAN











d. Reginald Le Borg (1944)

It's worth remembering that half the films made during the golden age of Hollywood were b-movies, and never intended to be anything other than a time filling support to something more important, more expensive, more valued, the thing that people wanted to see. There are great b movies, made with love and care, and these tend to be the ones that are remembered today. Then there are films like Jungle Woman, incomprehensible potboilers thrown together from old footage and cliche and padded out with voice overs, flash backs and long scenes of people walking corridors and going up and down stairs until sixty or so minutes pass.

Ostensibly a sequel to, but more like a rehash of Captive Wild Woman with all its teeth pulled out, the production misses any number of chances to be as silly or interesting as only a film about a beautiful woman who used to be a gorilla can be and really only merits notice because of the sulky presence of its female star, the mysterious and exotic Acquanetta, here slap bang in the middle of her five film credit career. The so called 'Venezuelan Volcano' is her usual somnolent self, drifting around in a self-absorbed daze, occasionally scowling and staring. She's not much of an actress, but she's a hell of a presence, the sort of person who enters a room glowering and makes everyone wish she'd either say something or just go away.   

As a final note, it is now believed that Acquanetta was neither Venezuelan or a gypsy or an Arapaho Indian but instead that rarest of all onscreen Hollywood persons: an African American.

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