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Jungle Jim (1948)



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After Johnny Weissmuller retired from the Tarzan films, he jumped right into a new jungle series, this one being based on a comic strip character. Although the Jungle Jim films were undoubtedly made to cash in on the success of Tarzan, the title character, a safari guide, is quite different. Not that it matters. Like the Tarzan films, these are simple romps in the jungle, featuring greedy pillagers of lost civilizations, cute animal antics, and spirited battles with puppets of wild beasts.

The problem is, this formula was better with Tarzan. Jungle Jim, so far as I can tell, has no particular personality or background. The writing is terrible, and the films had microscopic budgets.

This time out, Jungle Jim helps a female scientist find a cure for polio. Future Superman George Reeves tags along for questionable purposes.

We expect, in a movie of this sort, that there will be a certain amount of unconvincing action scenes, close rescues, and characters on clearly delineated sides. All that is ok. But Jungle Jim features a fight with one of the most extraordinary laughable animal puppets this side of the creature features of the 1950s. And the director had utterly no sense of pacing. There is a "tense" scene, for example, where Jungle Jim hangs precariously from a cliff. And he hangs. And he hangs. And he hangs. Meanwhile, the bad egg in the safari's company makes a move that should have given him away to everybody.

As in many of the Tarzan films, animals provide the comic relief. But gracious, does that have to go on so long too? You can even spot reused footage within single sequences, as if the original footage wasn't long enough already.

Jungle Jim is strictly for only most rabid fans of the jungle adventure genre.

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