Cast and Credits
Mike Mazurki, Wally West, George DeNormand,
Ray Corrigan, Billy Jones, Charles Gemorra, Emil Sitka
Running Time: 72 minutes
Original Title: Jungle Jim's Adventure
Shooting Begins: September 8, 1948
When white invaders seek the location of the hidden
city of Dzamm, Jungle Jim is called in. The patriarch hopes that
through Jim and a gift of diamonds the greed of the white men may be appeased.
Chot, the patriarch's son, has been unwittingly responsible for the information leak. He has become infatuated with a white girl, Norina, whose uncle, Calhoun, has formed an alliance with a ship's captain Rawlings to loot the hidden city of its diamonds.
Jim is captured by the white men who attempt to beat him into leading them to the sacred city. When Norina tries to free him, she is killed by Calhoun. Eventually, Li Wanna, the patriarch's lovely daughter, is also captured and Rawlings and Calhoun use her to force Jim to lead them to Dzamm, where they loot the temple.
But before they can depart with their plunder, a colony of gorillas, friendly to Jim, attack and dispatch the villains, and Chot redeems himself when he helps to release Jim and Li Wanna, but dies from a gunshot wound.
Now Dzamm is once again safe and the patriarch can proclaim that despite their adversity, “Dzamm will rise again.”
The second instalment in the Jungle Jim series showed that Katzman was not thinking in terms of the continuity of characters. Given his propensity for coming up with plots on the flip of a coin, this was probably inevitable. This did not mean, however, that one film might not provide a notion for another, as subsequent entries in the series amply demonstrate.
1949 was a great year for films involving gorillas.
Abbott and Costello came out with Africa Screams,
and there was Zamba,
with Ray Corrigan in the title role, and a eight-year-old named Beau
Bridges. Since Corrigan's contract with Republic did not allow him to
be billed when playing an ape, a bit of humour was achieved by having
Zamba played by Nabonga, the name of the gorilla that Corrigan had
played five years earlier with Buster Crabbe and Julie London. He
also appeared that year in Forbidden Jungle
with Don Harvey as a white hunter trying to find a lost jungle boy.
And undoubtedly the highlight of the period was Mighty
Joe Young, the simian descendant of King
Kong, which incredibly did not meet the same reception as the parent film.
A number of stunt doubles or serial extras were hired to play the mariners. Names such as Jack Ingram, John Merton, Gil Perkins, Mike Mazurki will be familiar to B film or serial buffs. And Paul Stader continued to double for Johnny's dives from the pier at Portuguese Bend.
Gil Perkins, whose phenomenal memory still allowed him in his late 80s to provide information on events that happened decades earlier, related how stuntman Billy Jones was hurt when the doubles on whom he was to leap from a ten-foot archway dressed in a ponderous gorilla costume, failed to break his fall, thanks to one too many alcoholic beverages over lunch. The accident kept him out of work for several weeks, and he vowed never to work with those men again.
Perkins, an expatriate Australian, came to Hollywood in the late 20s hoping to get into the movies. He got a few roles playing Englishmen, but because of his natural athletic ability soon found his niche as a stuntman, doubling the likes of William Boyd, Red Skelton, Bruce Cabot (King Kong), Spencer Tracy (Dr. Jekyll and Mr,. Hyde) and Bela Lugosi (Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman). Later he headed the SAG and was instrumental in getting an ailing Johnny Weissmuller into the Motion Picture Actors' Home for a time. Gil Perkins passed away in March 1999 at that same Motion Picture Actors’ Home. He was 91 years old.
Cast as the patriarch's daughter was lovely Elena Verdugo. She had been working at Columbia with Gene Autry, when Sam Katzman was on the lookout for someone to play the role of Li Wanna. Her name encouraged Katzman to think native Latin. Like Sol Lesser, the majority of Katzman’s jungle dwellers were not blacks, but, I suppose, descendents of Arab safaris into the interior of Africa, and the B-film producer found lots of work for the Latin actors and would-be actors that haunted the Hollywood studios.
Elena was born in Paso Robles, California in 1927, and raised in Los Angeles. She was a direct descendent of Don José María Verdugo to whom the king of Spain had given one of the first California land grants more than 200 years earlier. She studied dance as a child, and sang “Tico-Tico” with Xavier Cugat’s orchestra when she was 17.
Johnny got a big kick when he heard that Elena would be appearing opposite him in The Lost Tribe. She was the daughter of Lupe Velez’ private secretary when the volatile Mexican star was married to Johnny, and he remembered that she had often played as a child around their home.
Her initial screen appearance was as a four-year-old in a Harry Carey film, titled Cavalier of the West (31), and her principal recollection of the film was her refusal to smile for the camera. But her first official screen role was as a dancer in Down Argentine Way (40).
Throughout the 40s, she played diverse roles in films like The Moon and Sixpence (42), Little Giant (46), opposite Lou Costello, the Gene Autry film The Big Sombrero (49), Sky Dragon (49), a Charlie Chan flic in which she played a villain, and in a Johnny Sheffield “Bomba ” film The Lost Volcano (50).
After seeing Elena in another Columbia film Thief of Damascus (52), Eddie Bracken’s secretary recommended her to her boss when a replacement was needed for Audrey Totter as the star of the radio comedy “Meet Millie.” And when the series moved to television, Elena went too, and remained with the show until the end.
Retiring from show business, she returned in the late 50s via summer stock musicals. She had important recurring roles in “The New Phil Silvers Show,” “Many Happy Returns, ”“Mona McCluskey,” and “Marcus Welby MD. ”She also appeared as a guest star (before the term lost its meaning) on numerous TV series, the most recent of which was “ Scarecrow and Mrs. King.”
The other femme interest is played by Myrna Dell, a former blonde contract player for RKO, by this time freelancing.
Born Marilyn Adele Dunlap in Los Angeles in 1924, she used her nickname Myrna, and shortened Adele to Dell. She started very young in the night club circuit with Earl Carroll, then off to New York and Billy Rose, and finally George White, before landing a contract with MGM and her first film Ziegfeld Girl (41). She was only 15, and was dropped rather quickly. After a few more minor appearances in films, she got a better deal with RKO, and finally a decent role in the film noir Nocturne (46) came her way. Her best role of the period was in Fighting Father Dunne (48), starring Pat O'Brien. There were reports that Howard Hughes had a ‘platonic’ interest in her. Then as her five-year deal with RKO ended, she worked for several studios including Warner Bros., Columbia and Allied Artists.
More studio hype was lavished on her by Columbia when she did The Lost Tribe, claiming that her tussle with Joseph Vitale required massage and steam bath treatments to deal with the black and blue marks.
In the early 50s, Myrna moved to television and appeared with Dan Duryea in the series “China Smith, ”as Madame Shira. She was also reunited with Johnny Weissmuller for an episode of his Jungle Jim TV series.
In the 80s, Myrna did a column for the magazine Hollywood: Then and Now, answering fans’ questions about her life in show business, or actors she worked with.
Born Paul Marin in The Bronx in 1915, Paul Marion came to Hollywood in the late 30s to be an actor. His first roles were in Republic serials like Zorro's Fighting Legion (39). He also played minor roles in westerns, many of which went uncredited. He had roles in the Sabu film Savage Drums (50), in the Bomba film Safari Drums (53) with Johnny Sheffield, and was not loathe to appear in comedies like the the Joan Davis vehicle Harem Girl (52), and the Martin and Lewis film Scared Stiff (53), playing twin brothers, or to team up with Rick Vallin to menace Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall in Bowery to Bagdad (55).
Katzman found him useful in five of the Weissmuller jungle films, his last appearance being a cameo in the Devil Goddess (55), which also marked the end of the series. Marion also appeared on early television in series like “The Cisco Kid ”and “China Smith.”
Once married to actress Isabel Jewel, Marion left acting to become a Hollywood agent.
Nelson Leigh [pronounced lee] (1905-1985) started in films in the early 40s, occasionally playing a villain, but his paternal looks and deep sermonizing voice made him a natural as a religious leader, doctor, scientist or judge, and for most of his career, these are the roles he portrayed, not only on the theatre screen, but also in television, where he played pastor Martin on This Is Your Life from 1952 through 1956. He frequently appeared on “Perry Mason” as a judge. He also appeared with Irish McCalla in an episode of Sheena - Queen of the Jungle in 1956. In 1966, he played a character called, appropriately enough, ‘Preacher’ in an episode of The Time Tunnel called “End of the World.” And off screen he was equally well known for his moving portrayal — for many years — of Christ in the annual Pilgrimage Play. Thus the role of Dzamm’s leader was tailor-made for him, playing Elena Verdugo’s father.
By the mid-forties, he became a fixture at Columbia, playing credited and uncredited roles, in serials and in B-programmers. The Lost Tribe was the first of four films for him with Johnny Weissmuller. And in 1956, he had an important role in Allied Artist's World Without End. He made his final theatrical appearance in 1963 in The Gathering of Eagles. His last TV performance was as a doctor on “Bonanza,” the year of his death.
Joseph Vitale (1902-1994) was at home as the seedy saloon owner, running everything in the coastal settlement, and always ready to cut himself in on any venture where money was involved. Vitale began his film career in the early 40s, and Bob Hope films seem to have been one of his favourite haunts. He appeared in Road to Rio (47), The Paleface (48), Fancy Pants (50), in which he even managed to sing a little, and My Favorite Spy (51). His final screen appearance was in Apache Rifles in 1964. Vitale made occasional appearances on TV, first in early TV series like “Rin Tin Tin” and “Wild Bill Hickok,” and later in “Wagon Train” and “Empire.”
The omnipresent Ralph Dunn (1902-1968) was a rough-and-tumble, no-nonsense type of guy. His first recorded appearance was in The Crowd Roars (32), and following that, he played minor roles in all kinds of comedies and dramas, often appearing uncredited as a cop in Charlie Chan or Mr. Moto programmers. On television, he had a regular role as Mr. Rudge on the show “Norby ” (55).
Jody Gilbert (1915-1979) had a fleeting role in The Lost Tribe, but this was not infrequently the case, as she often went unbilled. The very heavy character actress began her career in 1937 in a film called Confession, and appeared billed or not in A-films like Ninotchka (39) or B-programmers like Blonde Dynamite (50), a Bowery Boys vehicle, in which she played the unlikely wife of diminutive Bernard Gorcey. She held W.C.Fields at bay in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (41), and was a bearded lady in Maisie Was a Lady (41). On television she played J. Carrol Naish's ardent pursuer Rosa, on “Life with Luigi” (52). Her last screen appearance was in Lifeguard (76). Three years later she died in an automobile accident.
For information on George J. Lewis, see the commentary on Tarzan and the Leopard Woman.
The Vendetta Village set was used as an exterior for the hidden city of Dzamm. The set was so named because Howard Hughes had it built in Corriganville as a Corsican town for the film he was making titled Vendetta , started in 1946, but not released until 1950, and starring his latest discovery Faith Domergue. As was usual in Corriganville, any set built on the property became part of the property, and this set was reused many times over the years, not only in feature films but also for TV shows. It was dismantled when Bob Hope bought the property in the 1960s.
The Motion Picture Herald
This second in the new Jungle Jim series, produced by Sam Katzman and directed by William Berke, again presents Johnny Weissmuller in his new role of Jungle Jim. The erstwhile Tarzan makes a somewhat different impression than he did in those films. His excessive avoirdupois (he really looks bulky in this one), close hair style and a surprising high-pitched voice certainly don't tie in with the manly character he's playing. However, since Weissmuller hasn't been burdened with too much dialogue, and with the film providing a generous measure of the expected excitement, the lead characterization isn't too much of a hindrance.
The story is routine: Jungle Jim is asked by the leader of a peace-loving tribe living in a jungle Shangri La to call off attempts by white men to steal sacred treasure. The white men, naturally, are out to get this treasure and after a few killings and jungle fights involving animals, for which clips from previous documentaries are used with great generosity, the villains are dead or beaten off, and the Shangri La goes back to its atmosphere of peace.
Best parts of the film are the trained animal sequences and the savage struggles in the jungle. The photography is good and the direction is up to par. All the parts are played in the manner expected in these films and the story line is easy to take and simple to follow. Elena Verdugo is the native girl who befriends Jungle Jim, and Joseph Vitale and Ralph Dunn are the bad ones.
"The Lost Tribe" is an action-packed entry that will prove surefire entertainment for youthful filmgoers. Based upon the King Features strip, "Jungle Jim," the picture should have a ready-made audience to draw upon from the comic's readers. Name of Johnny Weissmuller, the erstwhile "Tarzan," lends itself as a marquee lure for exhibitors.
Offsetting the juvenile qualities of the yarn are a variety of perils inserted in the plot that generates well sustained suspense. Story concerns the efforts of the inhabitants of a city hidden in the African wilds to repel some unscrupulous white men who covet its riches. As "Jungle Jim," Weissmuller helps drive off the invaders.
In the process of giving the heave-ho to bad men Joseph Vitale and Ralph Dunn, Weissmuller dispatches a lion in hand-to-hand combat, knives a couple of sharks and shines in several other feats of derring-do. Constant seesaw of the upper hand from the villains to Weissmuller is remindful of the episodes of oldtime serials.
Although rather a beefy hero, Weissmuller registers satisfactorily. In contrast to his monosyllabic utterances as "Tarzan," the role of "Jungle Jim" affords him the chance to carry on a conversation which he executes in so-so fashion. Myrna Dell, a blonde siren, and sarong-clad Elena Verdugo are pleasantly decorative. Vitale and Dunn are amply sinister while supporting players are competent under William Berke's swift direction.
Producer Sam Katzman wrapped the film with suitable tropical values which Ira H. Morgan capably lensed. Mischa Bakaleinikoff's score aids in heightening the suspense while scripters Arthur Hoerl and Don Martin turned out an okay, fanciful screenplay.
Here are some outtakes from the flm with lion trainer Mel Koontz and his lon Jackie. I assume it is Koontz in the gorilla costume rather than Ray Corrigan since the latter's lion is involved in the scene.