About a month ago, for reasons that I’m sure made sense at the time, I decided it would be fun to watch and review all 50 of the films included in Mill Creek’s Fabulous Forties box set. If you know anything Mill Creek box sets, then you won’t be surprised to learn that the majority of these 50 films are public domain B-movies. A few of them have been good, a few of them have been bad, and a few of them have been forgettable.
I have to admit that, as much as I love watching old movies, there’s a part of me that’s more than ready to move onto the next Mill Creek box set, the Nifty Fifties. But, before I do that, I have to finish up the Forties. Fortunately, I just watched the 25th film included in the Fabulous Forties and I am happy to say that I am now halfway done with this project! Yay!
As for the film itself, it’s a 63-minute film from 1941. Though it was later retitled Drums of Africa, it was originally called Jungle Man.
As for what Jungle Man is about … well, it’s mostly about stock footage.
There is kind of a plot. Wealthy Bruce (Weldon Heyburn) and his friend Alex (Robert Carson) want to go to Africa so that they can see the legendary City of the Dead. Bruce’s fiancée, Betty (Sheila Darcy), decides to accompany them because she wants to visit her brother (Charles Middleton), a missionary. Once they get to Africa, they also meet a doctor (Buster Crabbe) who is trying to find a cure for a fever that is wiping out the native population.
But really, the plot is mostly just an excuse for stock footage. We watch as our explorers walk down a jungle trail. Someone says, “Look up in that tree!” We cut to grainy footage of a monkey in a tree. Cut back to everyone looking upward. Cut back to that monkey in the tree. Suddenly, we hear a roar on the soundtrack. Cut to slightly less grainy footage of a tiger running through a field. Cut back to the explorers saying, “Look out, tiger!” Cut back to the monkey climbing up higher in the tree.
(Of course, tigers don’t live in Africa but that’s just the type of film this is!)
Even when our heroes finally reach the City of the Dead, we don’t actually see them walking around the city. Instead, we see them staring into the distance and then immediately cut to some still shots of what Wikipedia identifies as being Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. Of course, no attempt is really made to match any of the shots. If Jungle Man was made today, they could just CGI the Hell out of it. But since it was made in 1941, audiences had to suspend their disbelief and accept shots that didn’t particularly match up with any other shots and a storyline that was pretty much determined by whatever stock footage the producers had available.
On the plus side, it’s only 60 minutes long and some of the stock footage is fun, particularly if you like cute monkeys or fierce tigers. For the most part, it’s silly but inoffensive.
And you can watch it below!
(I should admit that, as I watched it, I kept thinking about those GEICO commercials where Jane and Tarzan are lost in the jungle and Tarzan refuses to ask for directions. “Tarzan know where Tarzan go.” “No, Tarzan does not know where Tarzan go. Excuse me, do you know where the waterfall is? The waterfall?”)