LAW OF THE JUNGLE. Monogram Pictures, 1942. Arline Judge, John King, Mantan Moreland, Arthur O’Connell, C. Montague Shaw, Guy Kingsford, Laurence Criner, Victor Kendall. Director: Jean Yarbrough.


   I didn’t begin watching this movie with high expectations, and after five minutes, I was ready to turn it off. I’d seen it all before, I thought, and far better done, and this assuming I wanted to see another girl-singer-stranded-in-the-African-outback movie again in the first place.

   But something caught my attention – maybe it was Arline Judge, a good-looking brunette with beautifully expressive eyes – or maybe it was Mantan Moreland, playing another comedy role in a low budget picture as “Jeff,” in this case the fellow heading up John King’s safari into the jungle looking for bones.

   Or maybe it was the only player in this movie who later on received two Oscar nominations, Arthur O’Connell, the grizzled, dissipated and thoroughly crooked owner of the traders’ bar where Arline Judge has been stranded without a passport, which O’Connell, unknowing to her, has in his possession.

   Palaeontologist John King, whom Arlene calls “Professor,” is her only lifeline out of Africa, as well as her means of escape from some Nazi-like fellows that O’Connell is in cahoots with.


   Which just about explains everything, including perhaps why I kept watching. And enjoying myself, especially the scene in the moonlight in the jungle with Arlene Judge’s head on John King’s shoulder, and he totally oblivious to her charms.

   In movies made by Monogram in their heyday, scientists were either mad, you see, or hopelessly naive. (John King’s acting is also as stiff as they come, but among other highlights of his career, he was one of the Range Busters in a series of early 40s B-westerns for Monogram after having the title role in the Ace Drummond serial in 1936.)

   There is also later on a guy dressed up in a gorilla suit, and Mantan Moreland learns not to say “Scrambola” to the head chief’s hefty-sized daughter when trying to persuade her to release him and the other two stars of this motion picture. Whenever Mr. Moreland is on the screen, this movie is a comedy. When he’s not, it’s a below average jungle adventure, but believe it or not, none the worse for it.