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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Captive Girl (1950)



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What starts like a promising entry in the Jungle Jim series (well, relatively speaking, anyway) with an interesting little mystery quickly degenerates into a total mess. The vast majority of the movie consists of everybody creeping around the jungle on the trail of everybody else. There aren't even as many gratuitous wrestling matches with wild animals as usual to break up the monotony.

The "plot," such as it is, involves a mysterious jungle girl, sort of a female Tarzan, at deadly odds with the witch doctor of a local tribe. We don't know why they want to kill each other, but we know whose side to take. Witch doctors are pretty much always evil in these sorts of movies. But his motives, as eventually explained by the movie, are senseless. He wants to kill the girl, apparently, because she saw him kill her parents. Were she to return to the district commissioner and testify, the witch doctor could "hang." I've seen a lot of jungle movies, but that's a new one on me. I've never seen the members of remote, primitive jungle tribes concerned about outsider law, nor vice versa either. Oh, and why did the witch doctor kill the parents? As religious sacrifices, of course. This particular faction of natives practice human sacrifice regularly, making the special case of this girl and her parents even stranger.

As terrible as this movie is, there are two things to laugh at here. One, there are two separate shots of a chimpanzee hauling a dog around, once by the neck and once by a rear leg, that are just too funny. Two, the dialogue is wonderfully atrocious. Consider a scene where a man is diving for sunken treasure, and his buddies are supposed to haul him out by a rope when he yanks on it. He does, and the guys start hauling away. But the rope is caught on something. What do the boys do? One says, "Hey! Somethin's gone wrong. Let's get out of here!" and they book it into the jungle, leaving the diver to fend for himself.

Another line is just inexplicable. Jungle Jim returns from creeping around the jungle after somebody and sees the chimp and the dog (both are series regulars) hugging. He says, "Aw c'mon, Skipper. Break up the romance. We gotta travel light."

And still other moments blatantly betray the lack of thought that went into this production. For example, there is a scene where the jungle girl is creeping through the jungle, and she covers her tracks by breaking off a tree branch, swiping it over five feet of the path, and continuing on. Jungle Jim, just behind, loses the trail but spies the branch. "Just broken off," he says. "She knows all the tricks." Then he continues after her, undeterred.

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