JUNGLE JIM IN THE FORBIDDEN LAND. Columbia, 1952. Johnny Weissmuller, Angela Greene, Jean Willes, Lester Matthews, William Tannen. Based on the comic strip character created by Alex Raymond. Director: Lew Landers.


   I was joking around in the comments following my recent TCM Alert, posted here, saying something like this, and I quote:

    “As for Jungle Jim — the movies, that is — I remember seeing them at the local movie theater when I was 10 or 12, and thinking even then that they weren’t very good. I suspect that, as you seem to be hinting, they haven’t improved with age.

    “No matter. I’ll tape them anyway. Nobody says I have to watch them — but I probably will. Call me curious.”

   My goodness. I did watch one, this one, and I have to tell you, assuming that it’s typical of the rest of the series (*), I didn’t really realize how bad they were. The funny thing is, I’ve just checked some of the reviews this mess of a movie has had over the years. They’re generally favorable, and the movie is simply awful. I’d have to stretch like Plastic Man to say anything positive about it, and then I’d be lying to you.

   (*) This was number eight of either 13 or 16 films in the series. The last three Johnny Weissmuller essentially played himself after Columbia lost the use of the name of the Jungle Jim character. So unless I’m told otherwise, I’ll assume this one’s typical enough.


   But by golly, they must have been successful. They wouldn’t have kept making them if people hadn’t kept going to see them. This one’s barely an hour long, but without all of the stock footage of various animals found in all four corners of the world, it probably wouldn’t have been run much over 30 minutes or so.

   That plus a plot that makes no sense at all. To sum it up: ivory, a tribe of giant people, a lady anthropologist (the beautiful Angela Greene, whom you can see in the photo with Jim), rampaging elephants, greed – as exemplified by the truly and magnificently hard-boiled Denise (Jean Wiles), a chimp that does nonsensical things to make the kid folks laugh, and a rookie governmental commissioner who doesn’t know which end is up.

   Did I mention a crooked native chief? Truth serum? Well I have now.


   The costumes of the giant people (all two of them) were left over from some werewolf movie, I’m afraid to say. I hate to say this also, but the only reason that this review is so long – it’s probably going to take me longer than watching the movie itself to get it typed, formatted and posted – is so there’s room to fit all of the images in.

   But I especially like this small movie theater flyer I found online. I certainly remember those from either of the two theaters in the town that I grew up in, but I hadn’t seen one in many a year until today.

   In fact, the name of the theater on this very same promotional flyer is the Lyric, one of the two theaters I was just referring to. I’d wonder if it were the same one, but I imagine every other small town in the 1950s had a Lyric Theatre.

PostScript. If you read the review carefully, you’ll discover that I lied to you. There are some positive aspects to this movie, and I mentioned them both.