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Fury of the Congo (1951)



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After a high mark with Pygmy Island, the Jungle Jim series dipped back down into ill-conceived pulp. The acting and dialogue is always bad, but some of the episodes have more convincing stories than others, and some have more exciting action than others. This one has a decent story (relatively speaking; one does not expect or require much from a B picture like this), but the action is dull dull dull. There's a recycled leopard fight (inserted from stock series footage), repetitive fist fights, and chases through the jungle and sand dunes drawn out to absurd extremes. There is just one great moment of action, and it comes at the film's expense. Jim's chimpanzee friend takes a flying leap, swings on a vine, and smacks Jim into some quicksand. What a pal!

One asset of the series is the vast amount of footage of wildlife that finds its way into the film. But by this sixth episode, apparently the writers got tired of making use of real animals and started making them up. The story is about poachers of a sacred animal called the Okongo, which is essentially a pony with stripes painted on the front and back. Why do they want the Okongo? Because its diet consists of a natural narcotic that becomes more potent once in the Okongo's digestive system. The opening narration tells us about these animals, showing several shots of the herd. They can be vicious, he tells us, as we see a little pony rearing up a couple times. Later on, Jungle Jim has a fight with a "desert spider," which is basically a tangle of hair-covered corrugated hose. The way Jim flings that knife around, it's a wonder that he has neither exterminated all jungle wildlife nor lopped off one of his own limbs by mistake.

One thing's for sure. Whatever might be said about this movie, its story is clearly told. Note how dialogue is used as a narrative device, filling us in on things we don't understand, then doublechecking to make sure we get it:

When Jim and a friend run across a tribe of natives that may or may not be friendly, he makes a gesture with a spear and explains what he's doing to his friend: "It's the native sign of obedience to the Okongo god. They don't understand how I know it."

A spokeswoman for the tribe steps forward. "You make sign of obedience to Okongo god. How you learn that?"

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