Duel in the Jungle (1954)

98, 102 or 105 mins | Adventure | 21 August 1954

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HISTORY

The film opens with a title card that reads: "off the coast of Africa" and is followed by a scene depicting David Farrar, as the character "Perry Henderson," diving for diamonds. Opening credits conclude with the following statement: "The producers wish to acknowledge gratefully the assistance granted by the Northern Rhodesia Authorities and The National Parks Board of Trustees, South Africa." Jeanne Crain's name is listed first in the opening credits, but second in the closing cast credits, after Dana Andrews. According to a Jul 1953 Var news item, Duel in the Jungle was a joint project of Associated British Picture Corp. and an American syndicate, Moulin Productions, which invested profits from their 1953 independent release, Moulin Rouge (see above entry).
       Although the copyright states that the screenplay was based on an original story by S. K. Kennedy, a Jul 1953 Var article reports that screenwriters Samuel Marx and Tommy Morrison used a German novel originally published in 1942 as its source. An Aug 1953 HR news item reported that director George Marshall and producer Marcel Hellman scouted Windsor Castle, Weymouth, Swansea and Gloucester for background scenes. However, the use of these locations in the film has not been confirmed. Interior scenes were filmed at Elstree Studios near London. According to Aug and Sep 1953 HR news items, portions of the film were shot in South Africa at Port Elizabeth, Bechuanaland, Victoria Falls and Johannesburg. An Oct 1953 DV news item stated that scenes were shot at Krueger National Park. During production, assistant director Anthony Kelly died when he was thrown from his overturned ... More Less

The film opens with a title card that reads: "off the coast of Africa" and is followed by a scene depicting David Farrar, as the character "Perry Henderson," diving for diamonds. Opening credits conclude with the following statement: "The producers wish to acknowledge gratefully the assistance granted by the Northern Rhodesia Authorities and The National Parks Board of Trustees, South Africa." Jeanne Crain's name is listed first in the opening credits, but second in the closing cast credits, after Dana Andrews. According to a Jul 1953 Var news item, Duel in the Jungle was a joint project of Associated British Picture Corp. and an American syndicate, Moulin Productions, which invested profits from their 1953 independent release, Moulin Rouge (see above entry).
       Although the copyright states that the screenplay was based on an original story by S. K. Kennedy, a Jul 1953 Var article reports that screenwriters Samuel Marx and Tommy Morrison used a German novel originally published in 1942 as its source. An Aug 1953 HR news item reported that director George Marshall and producer Marcel Hellman scouted Windsor Castle, Weymouth, Swansea and Gloucester for background scenes. However, the use of these locations in the film has not been confirmed. Interior scenes were filmed at Elstree Studios near London. According to Aug and Sep 1953 HR news items, portions of the film were shot in South Africa at Port Elizabeth, Bechuanaland, Victoria Falls and Johannesburg. An Oct 1953 DV news item stated that scenes were shot at Krueger National Park. During production, assistant director Anthony Kelly died when he was thrown from his overturned canoe into a whirlpool on the Zambesi River and then into the jaws of crocodiles. When footage of an elephant stampede shot in Africa was deemed unusable, the scene was re-shot on the Wimbledon Common using trained Indian elephants from a London circus, according to a Nov 1953 LAT news item. To make the elephants look like African elephants, they were fitted with large rubber ears.
       Duel in the Jungle opened in London on 30 Jun 1954. The HR review noted that after audiences at a 29 Jul 1954 Los Angeles preview jeered at the film's ending, Warner Bros. re-edited the final scenes. The Var review lists the running time of the British release as 105 minutes; reviews of the American version list the running time as 98 min. Reviews of the film were not positive; NYT described the plot as "feeble and contrived" and Var mentioned "trite lines" and the "improbabilities of the plot." The HR reviewer, Jack Moffitt, who had read Sam Marx's original script and was familiar with director George Marshall's previous work, blamed the producers, Marcel Hellmen and Tony Owen, for "bad ideas about story and about editing" and for "hamstringing" their employees. A Dec DV news item reported that the Independent Theatre Owners of Ohio believed that Warner Bros.' trailer of the film, which credited Associated British Productions for production as well as distribution, was killing the film's chances for box office success in Ohio by emphasizing its British origins. The ITOO commented that it seemed that Warner Bros. "doesn't even want to take credit for distributing the picture." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 Aug 1954.
---
Daily Variety
16 Oct 1953.
---
Daily Variety
6 Aug 54
p. 3.
Daily Variety
22 Dec 1954.
---
Film Daily
6 Aug 54
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 53
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 53
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 53
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 53
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 53
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Dec 53
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 54
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
19 Nov 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Aug 54
p. 105.
New York Times
9 Aug 54
p. 13.
Variety
7 Jul 53
p. 6.
Variety
29 Jul 1953.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Marcel Hellman Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
WRITERS
Based on an orig story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
MAKEUP
Make up artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scenario supv
Cont
Tech adv in South Africa
Tech adv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Night Belongs to Me," music by Mischa Spoliansky, lyrics by Norman Newell.
DETAILS
Release Date:
21 August 1954
Premiere Information:
London opening: 30 Jun 1954; New York opening: 7 Aug 1954
Production Date:
24 Aug--early Dec 1953 at Elstree Studios, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
Moulin Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 August 1954
Copyright Number:
LP5340
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
98, 102 or 105
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16811
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

American insurance investigator Scott Walters is sent to London to protest the risky practices of one of his clients, Perry Henderson of the Henderson House diamond merchants. After Perry's identical cousin Arthur meets briefly with Scott and tells him that Perry is in Africa, Scott tries to get information from the Hendersons' secretary, Marian Taylor, but she rebuffs him. That evening, fueled by his attraction to her and his need to clear up mysteries about Henderson House, Scott calls every "M. Taylor" listed in the phone book until he finds her, then shows up at her apartment. After convincing her to take him sight-seeing the next day, he learns that she is Perry's fiancée. Later, he reads in the newspaper that Perry died at sea while searching for diamonds off the ship Nigeria , and returns immediately to Henderson House. Learning nothing there, he goes to Marian's apartment and finds that she has left the country by plane. Scott suspects that Marian went to Africa, and that Perry is alive and cheating the insurance company, and flies to Johannesburg. There he boards the Henderson-owned ship, Nigeria , and finds Marian, but she avoids talking to him. Asking questions about Perry gets Scott in trouble with the captain and he narrowly escapes being murdered. When Marian disembarks, sailors then try to keep Scott from following her. Scott jumps overboard, and follows Marian to a hotel, but is prevented from getting near her by the staff. After outwitting them, he learns from Marian that she has been summoned by Perry's mother, who lives on a plantation in the interior. Marian refuses to believe Scott's suggestion that Perry is alive ... +


American insurance investigator Scott Walters is sent to London to protest the risky practices of one of his clients, Perry Henderson of the Henderson House diamond merchants. After Perry's identical cousin Arthur meets briefly with Scott and tells him that Perry is in Africa, Scott tries to get information from the Hendersons' secretary, Marian Taylor, but she rebuffs him. That evening, fueled by his attraction to her and his need to clear up mysteries about Henderson House, Scott calls every "M. Taylor" listed in the phone book until he finds her, then shows up at her apartment. After convincing her to take him sight-seeing the next day, he learns that she is Perry's fiancée. Later, he reads in the newspaper that Perry died at sea while searching for diamonds off the ship Nigeria , and returns immediately to Henderson House. Learning nothing there, he goes to Marian's apartment and finds that she has left the country by plane. Scott suspects that Marian went to Africa, and that Perry is alive and cheating the insurance company, and flies to Johannesburg. There he boards the Henderson-owned ship, Nigeria , and finds Marian, but she avoids talking to him. Asking questions about Perry gets Scott in trouble with the captain and he narrowly escapes being murdered. When Marian disembarks, sailors then try to keep Scott from following her. Scott jumps overboard, and follows Marian to a hotel, but is prevented from getting near her by the staff. After outwitting them, he learns from Marian that she has been summoned by Perry's mother, who lives on a plantation in the interior. Marian refuses to believe Scott's suggestion that Perry is alive and using her. Having been called by the hotel manager, Superintendent Roberts arrives and takes Scott to the police station, where Scott relates his suspicions about the strange things that have happened to him. Although Roberts is skeptical, he knows that Mrs. Henderson lives in town and takes Scott to meet the dotty, tipsy woman. When Roberts and Scott return to question Marian further, she has already left for the jungle with a native group led by Vincent, a guide in the Henderson employ. After hiring his own guide, Scott pursues her. When they catch up to Marian's group, Scott pays off his guide, and intrudes on the camp, claiming he is "John Palmer" and lost from his safari. Although Marian does not refute his story, she insists that he be sent away with a guide the next morning. After Scott tells her about Mrs. Henderson, Marian changes her mind and allows Scott to accompany them, but the kindly Vincent privately warns Scott to leave. The group continues through the jungle, later taking canoes through dangerous waters until they finally arrive at their destination, a village in which the living Perry rules. Although Perry is suspicious of Scott, Vincent and Marian vouch for him, so Perry changes into a condescendingly gracious host. Perry admits that he jumped off the ship and reveals that after he collects the insurance money, Arthur will come to the jungle and switch identities with him. Marian secretly fears that, having confided in Scott, Perry will not allow him to leave alive. Later, Perry takes Scott on a lion hunt and sabotages his gun, but Vincent saves him. When they return, one of Perry's henchmen brings him the news that Scott is an insurance investigator. Instead of killing him outright, Perry allows Scott to leave alone, knowing that he cannot survive poisonous plants, cannibals, quicksand and rapids. Marian urges Scott to go, but first Scott saves Vincent, who is being tortured by Perry for bringing Scott to him. Scott, Vincent and Marian escape together in canoes, but Vincent is shot by Perry and his henchmen, who are closing in from behind. When their canoe nears a huge waterfall, Scott and his companions go to shore. Thinking they have been drowned, Perry turns back until he hears Scott shoot a large, attacking snake, and then resumes the chase. Meanwhile, in Johannesburg, Roberts has had another visit with Mrs. Henderson and sensing trouble, instigates a search for Scott and Marian. He and his men arrive in time to save Scott from Perry, and Vincent and Marian from a lion. Perry escapes in a canoe into the rapids, but his canoe overturns near a crocodile. After saving Perry, Scott hands the villain over to Roberts, and then accepts Marian's affections. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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