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A movie trope long favored by lonely nerds — forgive the redundancy — was the Lost Civilization of Women. I myself have previously reviewed such examples as Queen of Outer Space, Frankenstein Island and Gold of the Amazon Women. (See, I told you it was a popular plot device for lonely nerds.)
The heyday of such films was probably the 50s, with our current subject an early example. The basic setup would involve small parties of adventurous males (with maybe a ‘girl’ along for the ride) to some exotic locale. There they would stumble across a group of women who had been denied — or forswore — male companionship for some length of time, sometimes generations. Unsurprisingly, the legendary Amazons were generally the template for these.
As with Lost Civilizations in general, these exclusively female enclaves popped up all over the place. Any comparatively isolated continent might boast such pockets. Outer space also saw many such enclaves. Such were to be found on the Moon, Venus (naturally) and even on the moons of Jupiter.
The leader of these tribes, generally an all-powerful Queen, would usually present their manless state of affairs…well, state of non-affairs, actually…as a superior one. Much sneering over the worth of menfolk would ensue. Males would be condemned as the weaker sex, and/or conversely be damned for their warlike ways. Of course, for all their rhetoric, these punitively man-hating leaders would often be planning to hoard the men for their own devices. Literally, now that I think of it.
However, the junior members of these collectives tended to have a different perspective on things. First, they would often already be chafing under the inevitably ironfisted rule of their leaders. Second, they’d be much more receptive, or at least more open, to biology taking its course. This combination would generally result in an effort to overthrown the current regime and reinstall a two-gender society. (In the older films of this sort, that usually meant returning the reins of power to the males.)
The appeal of this scenario for its target demographic, by which, again, I mean nerds, was that anything in pants could get a gorgeous girlfriend under these circumstances. Even the comic relief guy from Brooklyn. It would be like some wonderful, fantastic Star Trek convention where the gender ratios were somehow reversed. Here there would be a hundred women for every guy, rather than the other way around. The Great Bird of the Galaxy himself — producer Gene Roddenberry for the dork-impaired — was mesmerized by the idea of a Matriarchal society, and it popped up several times in his various TV series and telemovies.
The tribe in Wild Women, we quickly discern, falls into the ‘primitive’ rather than ‘futuristic’ category. (Although the space set societies had usually collapsed into a primitive state anyway.) As with many of its cinematic sisters, this is set in the (then) unexplored wilds of Africa. Aficionados of Jungle Movies, meanwhile, will be shocked, shocked!, to learn that we begin with a bunch of narration-laden stock footage.
“Africa,” our rather blithe Omniscient Narrator begins. “Dark, mysterious continent. Land of vast horizons, jungles, lakes and mountains.” Dark and mysterious horizons, jungles, lakes and mountains, no doubt. But wait, there’s more. “Of arid deserts,” Our Compulsive Cataloger continues, “and raging rivers. The Congo, Nile, the Zambezi. Land of big game. The lush, savage life of the Tropics. Land of wild native tribes. Of strange cults and ceremonies. Many weird stories have come out of Africa. Some are the creations of man’s imagination. Others…”
This goes on for a while longer. When your movie lasts an entire hour you need to eat up the running time somehow. Ending on a strangely Plan 9-ish note, the Narrator queries of our current subject, “Is it fact or is it fiction? Who can say?” In other words, can you prove it didn’t happen?
Our tale revolves around two white hunters on safari. As he pauses near a stock footage native village, we meet Count Sparafucile (!). This gent, who sports a comic opera Italian accent so thick it would embarrass Chico Marx, points with wonderment over to a stock footage ceremonial dance.
Kirby, presumably his non-nonsense, experienced guide, proves less than a model of multicultural sensitivity. “Say, are we hunting big game,” he asks in exasperation, “or do you want to watch a bunch of natives?” A more relevant query might have been, “or do you want to watch a bunch of stock footage of natives?” He further expresses his scorn by noting, “Those natives will get excited about anything.” Perhaps we could test this assertion by showing them this movie. Any resultant excitement from that would certainly substantiate Kirby’s claim.
The “expedition” moves on. All five of them, if you include the three bearers. They (and we) stop again, pausing to watch a stock footage monkey dangle from a tree. This goes on for a while, apparently under that theory that few things are more inherently intriguing than a monkey dangling from a tree.
Eventually, though, we cut away. Whereupon we spot your average spear-carrying, fur leotard-clad White Jungle Woman. She appears to be hunting a man who’s apparently violated a tribal law against wearing a really, really bad gorilla suit. Then we see what’s supposed to be the same ape, despite the fact that this is clearly another guy in a completely different gorilla outfit. Such are the miracles of stock footage. And yes, this is all presented to the pounding beat of jungle drums. Thanks for asking.
The *ahem* gorilla is then seen strolling around hand in hand with some other mini-skirted White Jungle Woman. (Which sets up an expectation that the plot will involve these two, which it doesn’t.) Meanwhile, the spear-carrying WJW and a comrade continue to circle about. All this, meanwhile, is being observed by Our Heroes. I think. Anyway, we get a montage of the hunting ‘party’…Kirby, Sparafucile and the three porters…marching around and pointing at various and sundry bits of stock footage. Then we move on. I think. Actually, at this point I have no friggin’ idea what’s supposed to be happening.
In a bit that screams ‘Plot point!‘, we learn that the Count has brought fireworks into the bush. He hopes to awe and amuse the natives with them. This raises the possibility that author Paul Theroux totally ripped this movie off in this novel Mosquito Coast. Only the fireworks were turned into a block of ice and Africa to Central America and the Italian Count an insane Yankee inventor, and…OK, maybe not.
Sparafucile shares a laugh over his own clownish ways with Kirby. Then we cut away to some orangutan stock footage. Perhaps this animal is actually supposed to be in the same movie, since the head porter, Sungu, runs up yelling, “He come! He come!” We know that Sungu is the head porter because he’s the oldest of the bearers. Plus he’s the only one of the three who’s actually a white guy who’s (sorta) been darkened with cork. Per tradition, he’ll be the only ‘native’ bearer with any lines. One can only imagine what the black actors playing the other two porters thought of this.
Sungu points to where the stock footage orangutan supposedly lurks, although he calls it a gorilla (good help is so hard to find). The party dashes over for a look-see. Suddenly, a disheveled white man, clothes torn to shreds, lurches out of the brush and collapses before them. Good thing he didn’t stumble instead into the stock footage, or the orangutan might have gotten him. Sungu identifies the prostrate figure as Trent.
Deciding on little apparent evidence that Trent has merely passed out, rather than having been “mauled-a by the gorilla,” they haul him back to camp. He rouses, but only to mutter the word “ulama” in a delirious fashion. Then, before again falling unconscious, he becomes more specific. “The white sirens of Africa,” he adds. Kirby asks Sungu if he knows what Trent’s on about. Painfully trying to affect some sort of ‘native’ dialect, or accent, or some damn thing, the guy playing Sungu refuses to answer. Gee, a Jungle Taboo. The pathetic thing is how creaky such a device was even back in 1951.
However, if that’s strictly finely aged and high-grade corn, the next sequence breaks intriguing new ground in the whole Civilization of Lost Women genre. As noted, the whole point to these movies was to bring to the screen about the crudest heterosexual fantasy one could imagine. For the next couple of minutes, though, the film shatters the conventions of the genre, introducing a new vibe and subtext that willfully subverts every tenet the trope is based upon.
This starts as we watch Sparafucile shave. Standing bare-chested before a hanging mirror, he hums and sings in his comic book accent. This is accompanied by stock footage inserts of startled looking animals, meant to ‘humorously’ suggest that Sparafucile vocalizations aren’t winning over the local fauna.Here Kirby enters shot. Also shirtless, he stands close enough to Sparafucile so as to definitely breach the latter’s personal space. Seeing that Trent is rising, the two start towards him, their body language such that we wonder if they’ll hold hands as they do so. They don’t, but the scene still has you wondering how long these two have been in the brush together.
Thankfully, Trent himself is fully dressed when they reach him. Spurafacile notes that the clothes they gave him fit well. They might have wanted to delete this line after casting the roles, since Trent is significantly taller than either of his benefactors and unlikely to fit easily into their togs. A situation Sparafucile’s line only serves to draw attention to.
Trent sits down on a spread blanket and reclines backward, noting that he’ll take his leave of them today. Sparafucile joins him on the ground, asking in an upset tone what he means. As he leans his shirtless torso forward, the still half-clad Kirby enters the shot. He, naturally, chooses to sit directly (and I mean directly) behind Trent. At this point my hand hovered nervously over my VCR remote. If anyone started giving out backrubs or applying sunscreen lotion to a compatriot, I was fully ready to jump ship and seek a review subject elsewhere.
Instead, to my vast relief, Trent launches into a flashback explaining why they found him in such dire straights. This is represented via (three guesses) stock footage and voiceover narration. Trent’s father, we’re told, took his family to live in Africa. (See, I told you Mosquito Coast was based on this movie.) There they lived in an elaborate hut in the jungle.
“I want to tell you about one remarkable day of my live,” Trent prattles. Here we watch a kid from what is quite clearly an entirely other movie. Who, in the context of this picture, is Young Stock Footage Trent. “[The day] began with excitement,” the narration stiltedly continues, “and ended in near tragedy.” Yes, that sounds about right. Except for the ‘excitement’ part. Or the use of ‘near’ as a modifier.
If any one thing killed the Jungle Movie as a genre, it was probably audience dissatisfaction with over reliance on stock footage. Here we’re watching a ‘flashback’ which is clearly just a hunk of film taken from another, older movie. However, that sequence itself is padded out with its own stock footage. It’s like the Morton Salt girl, who carries a salt can with the logo of the Morton Salt girl, who carries a salt can with the logo of the Morton Salt girl, on ad infinitum.
“In such surroundings, almost anything was possible,” we’re told. Like what? Flying saucers controlling elephants and other wild beasts for use against Communist radium smugglers? I’d like to see that! (Oh, wait, no I wouldn’t. I don’t think Dr. Freex would, either.) Lest we doubt Trent’s words, however, we watch a rather beefy woman in the usual micro fur get-up â€“ proving that such a fashion choice isn’t always to the audience’s benefit â€“ grab hold of a little black kid and run away from a leopard. Unfortunately, Trent doesn’t explain why the lad is wearing bib overalls. These make him appear less a native boy and more a refugee from a Little Rascals short.
The lad throws down the rifle he was carrying (??) and instead grabs a staff just laying there (??), and then they run off. However, it’s hard to escape a leopard, even a stock footage one. Well, several stock footage ones, actually, but the editing magically makes them appear to be one. Sorta. Plus there’s a tame one to actually appear with the two in shots. In any case, their cries rouse the Young Stock Footage Trent. He’s wearing overalls too, so presumably in the movie this came from the young black kid was part of his household. (Huthold?) Trent augments his pair with a beaten-up straw hat, however, suggesting nothing so much as ‘Tom Sawyer in Africa.’
Hilariously, the kid’s first impulse on hearing the racket is to barricade the door. You have to admire his survival skills, if not his charitable instincts. Then the woman and kid appear at the hut, and he has to unblock the door and let them in. Luckily, the tame leopard, just seen to be a couple of feet behind them, pauses too and allows them to seek refuge without incident.
The door re-barricaded, the three seek to defend themselves from what is now a pack of leopards. These begin barging trough the bamboo and bay leaf walls of the hut, making one wonder when Trent’s papa â€“ wherever he is â€“ was planning to reinforce these rather flimsy fortifications. I had a pretty good laugh here, though, since the shots of the milling beasts and of leopard heads poking through walls irresistibly called to mind The Killer Shrews. (Scenes later seemingly ripped-off in The Lost World: Jurassic Park.) Eventually one cat makes it inside.
Of course, it never rains but it pours. And so a great big snake decides to drop in. Literally, through the ceiling. Boy, if it’s not one thing it’s another. So with seemingly more animals now inside the hut than outside of it, Our Cast appears as doomed as doomed can be. Especially since no one seems motivated to beat on the currently vulnerable (if admittedly big ass) snake hanging down from the ceiling. I mean, you’ve got three people armed with staffs. Let two hold off the leopard while the other deals with the snake. How did these people survive in the jungle all these years?
“At that moment,” Trent continues, “the leopard sprang on the roof, clawed at the snake, and it fell to the floor.” Huh? Where did the leopard that was just in the hut go? Is it the one that somehow is now supposedly on the roof? Whatever. Anyway, they didn’t have footage of this leopard vs. snake stuff, so we just have to take Trent’s word for it. (In any case, Young Stock Footage Trent was inside the hut at the time. Thus he would have no way of knowing what his later self describes here, anyway.)
And so, with the inside-the-hut leopard mysteriously AWOL, and the purportedly mauled snake now lying dead or grievously wounded on the floor, the characters make the only reasonable decision. “Then, terrified and confused,” Narrator Trent explains, “we climbed up on the roof.” You know, where the leopard is. That’s pretty darned terrified and confused, I’d say.
Luckily, though, the cat has again vanished. It’s like the David Copperfield of felines. From the roof Our Heroes climb onto the branches of an adjacent tree — one that doesn’t match the one the snake was on (because that was stock footage of another snake entire) — and scamper off to safety. In this they are aided by the fact that all the leopards have apparently disappeared. Well, that was a stroke of luck.
“When all danger was over,” Trent continues, “my playmates headed back to the village.” Playmates?! You might think at least the fur-clad White Jungle Woman would require some explanation, but nobody in the movie seems to think so. (Despite her presence, the adult Trent still is amazed by ‘legends’ of a tribe of fur-clad white women living further in the brush.) Next we watch Young Stock Footage Trent check on the hut’s attached rabbit hutch. Seeing that his pet baby bunny was survived the siege — not very good marauding leopards, I have to say — he picks up the critter and nuzzles it.
You might have noticed that the current part of the story, in particular, would seem to be information that neither Sparafucile nor Kirby would have much interest in. For instance, we don’t hear either of them exclaim, “Hey, Trent! Did you by any chance have any pet rabbits during this period of your life, and did they survive the attack?” Moreover, none of the above seems to much pertain to how the adult Trent was to be found wandering the jungle in a battered condition. Which is what this tale was meant to be getting to.
Still, Trent obviously doesn’t get to recite wads of exposition every day in the Jungle, and so he proceeds to blather on as we watch Young Stock Footage Trent continue to cuddle his pet. “After my mother’s death,” Trent prattles, “my father had taken to drink.” Which is coincidentally something I myself have considered doing for the last five minutes or so. In any case, this assertion is reinforced when said father comes staggering along in a fashion so exaggerated it would embarrass Foster Brooks.
The old man, being in a foul mood, knocks the bunny from the kid’s grasp and hauls him into the hut. (Of course, there’s no sign of the snake anywhere.) “He said it was dangerous outside,” Trent continues, explaining why they’d be seeking shelter in the recently serpent and leopard-infested structure. The father’s (unheard) speech is marked by rather exaggerated chest pounding and eye-rolling. This serves to confirm that whatever film they stole all this from was a silent one.
The cause of Dad’s distress is that the local natives have informed him, “the Ulama were moving in.” Well, there goes the neighborhood. Ha, I’m so funny. Leaving Young Stock Footage Trent behind, Father grabs a rifle — what, was that sitting there the whole time the threesome was cowering behind sticks? — and departs.
However, Young Stock Footage Trent follows covertly behind. Again, how has this kid survived in the wilds all this time? For a moment we cut back to the men, still all sprawled closely together in the steamy jungle heat. “It was then that I had this strange experience,” Trent notes, “something that I shall never forget.” Cripes, couldn’t he have just started here and skipped all the other stuff?
“I saw her. The Ulama!” he explains. “One of the legendary White Sirens of Africa!” (Again, if he’d never seen an Ulama before, who was the woman in the earlier scene?) “She was a vision of womanly loveliness,” he continues. Perhaps this is his subtle way of letting Sparafucile and Kirby know that they won’t really find this section of the story very interesting.
Here we cut back again to the earlier film, which at this point seems like it will represent twenty percent of the ‘new’ movie entire. The editing is really confusing here. However, I can’t really tell if that was how the older movie was to start with, or if they screwed around with it when they stuck it in here. In any case, Young Stock Footage Trent indeed sees a slim blonde woman in a fur one-piece, carrying a spear and standing boldly out in the sun. Funny, really, how her complexion’s stayed so light.
He also sees that a trio of black natives are sneaking up on the woman. Meanwhile, another Ulama (I guess) is stalking his father. Odd how YSFT can see all this but his father doesn’t notice any of it. Another bizarre facet is that the first woman and the natives seem to be on a Savannah, while Pops and the second Ulama are in thick brush. Plus, despite the fact that only one woman is supposedly hunting his dad, they cut in footage of both a blonde and a brunette here. Guess we weren’t supposed to notice. The blonde/brunette unleashes a stone from a sling, and pots Papa. With a tinkling little giggle, she runs off.
The natives, meanwhile, who still seem to be in another section of Africa entire, suddenly take off running (?). Next we briefly cut to a stock footage monkey. (??) I mean, c’mon, is there ever a moment that can’t be enhanced by utterly superfluous and unmotivated animal footage? Imagine how cool it would have been if, between Scarlett O’Hara saying “But what about me, Rhett, what will I do?”, and Rhett Butler replying, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” they had cut in a two-second clip of an ocelot. That’d been awesome.
The running natives suddenly turn into quite distinctly different natives as they appear in a village, shouting “Ulama!” This again was clearly stuff not filmed for the original movie, and thus further stock footage in the stock footage. “On the hilltop stood the Ulama who I first saw,” Trent notes, while I wonder why the hell his younger self hasn’t bothered to check on his injured or even deceased father. “No one dared approach,” Trent continues. “Everyone was terrified.” Making this slightly comical is that the stock footage of the village showcases at least a couple hundred warriors. Given those odds, you might think they’d muster up the courage to approach a single woman.
“The Head Medicine Man,” Trent drones on (cripes!), “began one of his weird ceremonies.” This accompanies footage of a pig being roasted over a fire. Yeah, boy, that’s a pretty damn ‘weird’ ceremony, alright. Maybe we’ll later see him slathering it with some strange, arcane barbecue sauce, one forgotten by the White Man’s modern science. The pig is meant to propitiate the gods, who will hopefully save the muddled masses from that one chick threatening it. (By the way, if this guy is really the village Medicine Man, why hasn’t he tossed even a single fistful of Whooshing Powder into a brazier?)
When we next see the pig, it’s entirely roasted. (!!) Apparently YSFT has been observing this scene for some hours, while still not checking on his father. You were a good son, Trent. Also, some of the footage of the natives (which seems to be made up of shots of any number of separate tribes) is nighttime footage, mixed in with the more prevalent daylight shots. Ed Wood, you are avenged! Also, I was wondering why all the natives were smiling at the roasting beast and licking their chops. Isn’t it a sacrifice to the gods? Instead, this all looks like footage from a luau. Which, of course, is pretty much what it was.
The narration continues to tell another tale, however. We cut to a tribal dance being performed that night around a bonfire. Again, I suppose we’re to presume that YSFT, dead or injured Dad and Woman on Hill are still at their various posts during all this. Then we cut back to the same monkey footage we saw before. Good grief, this film would have been more linear if William S. Burroughs had edited it.
“Well, gentlemen, that was the last native ceremony I saw in Africa, when I was a boy” Trent says. Which, admittedly, leaves open the possibility that he attended numerous bar mitzvahs and celebrity roasts there in the years to follow. However, Trent is (Finally!!) approaching the end of this fascinating exercise into raw discursion.
“I was taken back to the States,” he concludes. “All through the years, I couldn’t forget about those Ulama.” Here my readers may notice a number of, say we say, loose ends left dangling by the finale of this narrative. Was Trent’s father OK? If not, who took him back to the U.S.? What about the village? Was it attacked by the Ulama? If so, what happened? Did they indeed eat the pig? And so on.
Of course, the viewer is quite content to let all this go, so relieved are we that all this his ‘story’ has finally come to an end. (Amazingly, the flashback only lasted seven minutes and change, although it easily seemed twice that long.)
However, our relief is short lived. It’s here that we come to understand that the filmmakers intended their work to be an experiment in pure, malevolent sadism. For those audience members hardy enough to have survived the previous section of the film with their wits intact, and having forsaken the refuge of slumber like no doubt many of their compatriots (I can only imagine the effect were this to be shown at B-Fest some year, at two in the morning or so) find that their travails are not now ending, but brutally extended.
This is because, rather than shooting Trent dead (which, frankly, would have been my first inclination), or at least battering him unconscious and booking the hell out of there, Sparafucile and Kirby instead egg him on to continue. “Say, did you ever see any of those white sirens again,” Kirby enquires. Trent indicates that he had.
Here I felt like I was the plaything of the type of spiteful and capricious gods that were always popping up on the original Star Trek. Any hope I had of delivery from this barbaric cruelty was squashed when Sparafucile responded with a pitiless “Well, tell us about it! Tell us about it!” Seldom have I been as consumed with such a sudden and deadly rage, nor felt my soul so roil and wither, as if it were being subsumed within some black and endless abyss.
And I’ve seen Battlefield Earth.
“A few weeks ago I organized a safari,” Trent begins anew. (Damn his eyes.) In case you’re wondering, ‘organizing a safari’ means hiring three bearers. Who, in an amazing coincidence, are the same three bearers that his rescuers have employed. Not much of a labor pool around these parts, I guess. In a long shot, Trent stops and points at something. We then cut to some â€“ three guesses â€“ stock footage, this of an orangutan. Or, as the natives here apparently call them, a gorilla.
We’ll see this shot again, by the way, and more than once. Then there’s a stock shot of some hippos, footage that pops up four or five times throughout the proceedings. In a movie, again, that runs about an hour. You know a picture’s cheap when it repeats stock footage shots. Another problem, as indicated above, is that the stock shots seldom match the terrain of the stuff actually shot for this film. The actors will be on a plain, point offscreen, and we’ll see that they’re mysteriously bordering a river, or think brush country, or whatever. Let’s just say that geography isn’t one of the movie’s strong points.
“We went on and on,” Trent drones. I think he means his ‘safari,’ not his story. “There was plenty of game around,” he further observes. That statement would be more accurate were you to substitute ‘stock footage’ for ‘game,’ but close enough. And so we see hippos, the gorilla/orangutan, elephants, leopards, etc. “We decided to stop and camp for the night.” I thought that sentence struck an oddly democratic note. Did the bearers get a say in this? Perhaps Trent is using the imperial ‘we.’
Suddenly a woman’s trilling is heard. “I heard the same weird cry that had come to me from that hilltop years ago.” He responds by drawing his revolver, as many would upon suddenly hearing a woman sing, and runs over to investigate. There he sees one of the Ulamas. Perhaps there singing on this hill is some sort of duty station. “I ran toward her,” Trent narrates, as we watch him run toward her. Thanks. This is like one of those old comic books, wherein, say, a drawing of Captain America punching the Red Skull in the face would be accompanied by a caption reading, “Captain America punches the Red Skull in the face!”
I’m assuming the hill is meant to be a lookout station. Despite this, Trent sees the woman’s outlined silhouette well before she notices him running towards her. Which seems kind of counter-productive, lookout-wise, but what do I know? Then we hear a burst of womanish laughter. “I heard a burst of laughter,” Trent helpfully explicates. Our Intrepid Explorer continues forward. Meanwhile, the bearers panic and run off. Which, I think, every bearer in movie history has done at some point or other.
Next, in a brilliantly edited bit, Trent’s narration notes, “Then she disappeared.” (We’ve seen no indication at this point that the ‘lookout’ had yet noticed the approaching bwana.) Onscreen, Trent looks around in a bewildered fashion. Then we cut to the woman, standing in the exact same spot up on the exact same exposed hilltop, who only now slowly leaves her position. Perhaps the Ulamas, like The Shadow, have the power to cloud men’s mind. This would certainly explain my mental state for the last twenty minutes.
Now the woman is (I think) stalking Trent. A close-up reveals a lot of cleavage, and that the woman looks like a Betty Page in need of a nose job. Trent runs forwards. Sans his bearers, he exhibits poor enough survival skills as to tumble into a three or four foot deep ditch. “I fell into a ravine,” he exaggeratedly narrates, in a moment that called to mind the armchair accounts of Colonel McBragg. The shot shows a trickle of water running through the ‘ravine,’ and I wondered if Trent would claim he was swept along by a raging torrent, but he didn’t.
Betty Page Woman runs up to the edge of the ditch, sets herself, and tosses a spear at Trent from what is presumably about four feet away. Needless to say, she misses. Yes, I can see why the natives flee in panic from the fearsome Ulamas. After we see the spear embed itself in the ground close to Trent, his voiceover explains that a spear embedded itself in the ground close by. “I clambered to my feet in a hurry,” Trent recalls, as we watch him hurriedly clamber to his feet. This is like watching one of those films where they narrate all the onscreen action for the visually impaired.
“My revolver was gone,” Trent notes as we watch him run away. This brought to mind some observations. First, you have just tumbled into a ditch. Therefore your sidearm probably resides within a fairly small amount of area. Given the circumstances, you might to take five or ten seconds to look around before racing off. Second, if you’re abandoning your gun, perhaps grabbing the spear might be a good idea. Third, you were just watching a woman holding a spear. You fall, and a spear lands by you. This would suggest that the woman is now what scientists call ‘unarmed.’ So again, maybe you should take a half-minute to find your weapon.
Instead, we see Betty Page Woman, from her position beside the ditch, finding and picking up the gun. This again prompted some musing. First, Trent obviously dropped his revolver before falling into the ditch. This provides evidence that he is what philosophers have termed a ‘nitwit.’ Second, the fact that the gun was lying at the woman’s feet suggests that she was standing directly over Trent when she chucked the spear at him and missed. Again, this somewhat reduces our awe at the presence of these legendary warriors. In any case, seeing that the bauble is too big to be worn on an earring, she tosses it aside and begins pursuit.
Off to the side, we see another WJW in on the hunt. However, even the fearsome, inexplicably buxom and heavily-cleavaged Ulama warriors hesitates to follow the lightheaded Trent as he inadvertently enters…the dreaded Land of the Stock Footage Animals!
Look out, Trent! Stock footage alligators!! Beware, Trent!! A monkey hanging from a tree!! (Not much to do in the primate world, I guess.) Trent! Watch your step! More alligators! Trent! Don’t move! It’s back to the monkey hanging from a tree! Oh no! Trent! A snake! Aiiee!! Trent!! Some leopards!! Trent!! Oh my gosh!! More leopards!! Trent!! Egad, sir!! It’s those same river hippos we’ve seen a bunch of time already!! And look now!! Trent!! Lions!!
According to his tale, his fevered perambulations went on for some days. (And I thought it just seemed that way while watching it!) Somehow, though, Trent makes it past all these menaces. Eventually he spots the safari party in the distance. “I recognized Sangu and the other two natives,” he explains. Being a sporting sort of chap, he doesn’t continue by saying, “the %*>#~@< $ bastards who abandoned me in the jungle!”
Anyway, the lucky appearance of the expedition chases off some stock footage zebras. At this point, Trent could probably just say, “And you know the rest.” But noooo! He has to drag things out. “Desperately, I made my way through the underbrush,” he relates, as we watch him make his way through the underbrush. “I cried out for help, but you didn’t hear me.” Dude, maybe they were just ignoring you. I have a feeling that happens to you a lot.
Trent explains that he intends to mount another expedition and return to the land of the Ulamas. His shirtless hosts, excited and aroused by his manly tale, insist that they will join him on his quest. “Are you both serious?” Trent asks, perhaps a bit nervously. “As long as there is women there,” Sparafucile says, perhaps a bit too forcefully, “lead us to them, boy!” After discussing how the women are to be divvied up, the three engage in hearty, manly guffaws. Hard to believe the Ulamas ever decided to live without men.
Trent, unsurprisingly, quickly agrees to their offer. Here again would seem a good spot for him to warn, “By the way, keep an eye on Sangu and the others. Last time they ran out on me like bratwurst at Octoberfest.” Yet he doesn’t. Meanwhile, having overheard the bwanas’ plans, the bearers hurriedly have a private conversation of their own.
And so the joined expedition continues on. The party marches down one of those nice clean pathways found throughout the deepest, most unexplored territory of the Dark Continent. Then we see a bunch of stock footage elephants. Then back to them walking. They pause. “We have to reach those mountain,” Trent advises, as we cut to a stock shot of mountains. Then they continue walking. It’s a thrill a minute, folks, let me tell you.
“There it is,” Trent soon announces, as we cut to see a mountain range in the distance. So, the Ulamas live up on a high mountain plateau? That doesn’t really match what we’ve seen up to now, but whatever. They start forward. We cut to stock footage elephants. A bit ahead, they stop. “Here’s where I camped last time,” Trent confirms. Again, this is miles and miles from the mountain, which we never saw Trent climb. Whatever.
“And here’s where the porters ran away on me,” Trent finally confesses. “Won’t happen this time,” Kirby promises. “Where exactly is the plateau?” he inquires. “Up there,” Trent explains, pointing towards the top of the mountains. Yeah, thanks. “Pretty inaccessible from here,” Kirby muses, although this directly contradicts Trent’s earlier adventures. In any case, as the bwanas discuss the situation the porters run away on them. Gee, who could have foreseen that happening?
The three bwanas, foraging on despite the fact that they now *gasp* have to carry their own gear, make their way forward. This despite suddenly inserted stock footage of some sort of badger or something. Luckily, the mountain is somehow magically smaller when it’s actually being climbed than when we see it in long shots. They rather quickly reach the plateau, despite cutting back again to the badgers. When they reach the top, we now see that they’re so high you can see clouds down below them. No wonder the porters booked. They’re not friggin’ sherpas.
Camp is quickly established. (In more ways than one, actually.) As they begin to rest, Sparafucile starts up and grabs his rifle. “Hey,” he exclaims, “I see a deer!” Do you really have to go to Africa, much less scale a mountain, to shoot a deer? How exotic! Plus, the stock footage insert actually shows half a dozen deer or more, so good eye, Count. Sparafucile runs forward, but as he’s a Comic Relief Italian, he fails to net any prey. Which is lucky, as dragging a dead deer out of the stock footage and back into their own movie might be a bit of a hassle.
We cut to a stock footage shot of a pair of owls. Then to back Sparafucile. Suddenly, just when we least expect it, something happens. In this case, a couple of Ulamas capture the Count and haul him off. He shrieks like a cowardly little Italian comic relief guy, whereupon we cut back to Kirby and Trent. They stand around for a couple of seconds, as if waiting for, I don’t know, a cue of some sort. Then Kirby says, “Come on, he’s in trouble,” and they start forward. However, it’s too late. All that’s left in their wake is the taunting laughter of the Ulamas and another look at the stock footage owls.
Hearing Sparafucile’s shouts in the distance, they decide to run in that direction. Yep, these are experienced trackers, all right. Meanwhile, the Count is brought to the tribe’s village. The ladies all have a good laugh at their runty captive, and one gal grabs his shoulders and lifts him off his feet to increased jocularity. It was here it became evident that David Spade should play Sparafucile whenever they get around to remaking the film.
Then the tribe’s Inevitable Queen approaches. She examines their prisoner’s condition by checking out his teeth. Of course, the Queen, who lives on an isolated peak in the deepest wilderness of Africa, proves to speak Pidgin English. (Odder is that Sparafucile first addresses her in that language, rather than his native tongue.) However, the actress playing her affects such a thick accent that I usually couldn’t make out what she was saying.
One of the women who brought Sparafucile in also tries to talk to him in broken English. She’s quickly shouted down by the Queen. Apparently the latter is the standard Lost Women matriarchs who hoards up the men, inciting mutinous feelings in her subjects. That’s pretty normal, actually. In any case, having pronounced the guy a “weak man,” the Queen orders him sacrificed to, what else, the tribal Fire God. This proves to be a hidden crevice with dry ice fumes issuing from it.
In a scene that called to mind Frankenstein Island — generally not a good sign — an Ulama playing a drum warbles as two kneeling women wave their hands over opposite sides of a campfire. Meanwhile, a third tribe member, standing between them and behind the fire, performs the Frug. The hand wavers are counterpointed by two other women standing at attention in the background. This is followed with most of the women gathering round the fire and improvising freeform jazzercise moves. I’m not kidding, there’s stuff in Frankenstein Island that’s almost a dead copy of this.
Two things stand out here. First, there’s the close-ups we get of the tribe’s drummer/minstrel woman. These proves that this Lost Tribe of Women possesses the normal allotment of curling irons, shampoo, toothpaste, peroxide, mascara and other womanly ephemera. Second, the dancing of the Queen seems likely to have been the direct inspiration for Elaine Benes’s infamously haphazard rhythmic abilities as displayed on Seinfeld. I guess one of the advantages of being Queen is that nobody tells you how poor a dancer you are.
At one point during this, Kirby and Trent sneak up and begin watching. After the dance is over, however, they are seen by an Ulama. (Amazingly, the woman apparently teleported to the vantage from which they are spotted, given that a second earlier she was in the dance circle.) The men eventually move forward, only to quickly find themselves surrounded and captured. An uppity Kirby is soon put in his place by a roundhouse slap that would do Moe Howard credit. The Ulamas, for their part, seemed pretty pleased with this fresh supply of love-puppets.
The Queen, of course, declares that the men will be kept for her pleasure. Meanwhile, the woman earlier shown playing the drum is giving Trent the eye, and he’s returning it. It’s Love, I tells ya. This goes unobserved by Her Majesty, however, who orders the prisoners sequestered in an oddly well-lit cave. “What a charming bunch of chicks,” Kirby sarcastically remarks.
The two sit down on the ground to talk things over. Kirby, I couldn’t help noticing, sits back with legs splayed apart, as if airing out his crotch. I’m telling you, there’s a weird vibe to this film. “Captured by a bunch of women!” he laughs. “Wait’ll the folks back home hear about this.” He doesn’t delineate who these folks might be, although I have my theories.
Trent, meanwhile, begins to muse on these light-skinned natives. “There are old legends [as opposed to the new legends, I guess] that say that in the early days, the Goths and Vandals came to Africa.” Well, OK, that doesn’t explain why they remain so fair dozens of generations afterward. I mean, these women aren’t even particularly tan. In fact, not only haven’t they acquired any apparent degree of melanin in their pigmentation — odd, considering the pool of menfolk you’d expect to be found in the area — but a good half of the Ulamas remain blondes.
Kirby gets, shall we say, all huffy at this chatter. “I don’t care where these monstrosities came from,” he pouts. “And I care even less about their husbands.” Well, OK, if you say so. He just wants to make their escape, he maintains. Here Trent points out the three Ulamas left guarding the adit. “Maybe they’d fall for a little masculine charm,” Kirby responds, although he may only be projecting.
Meanwhile, we see Sparafucile. Unaware of his companions’ arrival, he’s been assigned some food preparation work. I think this is supposed to be funny, since he’s a man and all, as is his resultant grumpiness. Then, and this is a real kneeslapper, he looks hungrily at a nearby Ulama greedily munching on a joint of some sort of meat. Man, that’s a ripsnorter.
Another woman tries to grab the meat joint away and the obligatory â€“ if exceedingly ineptly choreographed — catfight results. In a *cough, cough* jocular moment, the joint flies up and lands in Sparafucile’s hands. He begins ravenously chowing down. The Queen appears (now, now, none of that) and calls a halt to the ruckus. Meanwhile, a masticating Sparafucile smiles in contentment.
With twenty-three minutes of movie left, there’s plenty of time left for, uh, color. So we see smiling Ulamas walking around with baskets of fruit. Sparafucile gnaws at the joint. A stock shot of a leopard. Sparafucile gnaws at the joint. A stock shot of a leopard and a monkey. Sparafucile gnaws at the joint. Back to the leopard and monkey. Sparafucile gnaws at the joint. Then the Ulamas begin another sing-a-long. (Good grief, Ulamas. Just kill yourselves already.) Sparafucile gnaws at the joint. We focus on the dance. Sadly, this isn’t an improvement. My sanity was saved, however, when I glimpsed a rather un-African looking domesticated pooch running around behind the dancers. Wow, dogs are men’s best friend! By the way, good continuity, dudes.
Suddenly, the filmmakers realize we haven’t seen a stock footage orangutan for a while. So they edit one in. Whew! That was close. Then back to the dance. Meanwhile, we keep cutting back to Sparafucile going at that meat joint. I mean, that stuff is gold. You don’t want to waste even a moment of that great footage. Dancers. Orangutan. Dancers. Sparafucile.
Abruptly, we cut to the cave where Trent and Kirby are being held. I know what you’re thinking. Why cut away from the dancers, orangutan and meat-munching Sparafucile after only a couple of minutes? Hey, always leave ’em wanting more. Am I right? Anyway, one of the Ulamas, the one with the crush on Trent, is there with them. She’s brought in some watermelon (!!) for the two to eat.
“Hey, Trent,” Kirby suddenly asks. “What if this is poisoned?” (??) Uhâ€¦what? Dude, you’ve the prisoner of a tribe of spear-wielding savages in their remote mountain village. I suspect if they wanted you dead they wouldn’t bother to trick you into eating a poisoned melon. Unless they’re the African version of those Batman villains, the ones who instead of just shooting the Caped Crusader always stick him in a machine that’ll turn him into a giant sno-cone or something.
Apparently the heat, or something, has gotten to Trent, too, though. “I guess we can’t take any chances,” he glumly concurs, laying down his meal. The woman, realizing what a couple of morons they are, eats some of the melon to demonstrate that it’s OK. “You alarmist,” Trent calls Kirby as they lunge for the food. Yeah, OK, maybe he was paranoid. But unless mental retardation is communicable, it’s not on him that you stopped eating too.
We cut to a waterfall. Well, that’s a new one. Oh, it’s because the Ulamas are swimming. Don’t get too excited, though, this was still made in 1951. Hmm, stock footage deer. Swimming. Stock footage leopard. (Somebody here really liked leopards.) Then we see a young blond boy with one of the women. Wouldn’t males be killed at birth? Oh, wait, it’s a shot from another movie. Never mind. Stock footage leopard. Stock footage elk. Hah, it’s a stag film. I’m so funny.
That amazingly relevant ‘sequence’ completed, we cut back to Betty Page Woman playfully running her hands through Sparafucile’s hair. Unsurprisingly, he seems to resent her attentions, although this might partly be because he ends up looking like Don King. “Everybody a-want to play with my hair!” the irked Italian sputters. It seems obvious to me that the scene in Saturday Night Fever where John Travolta yells for people not to mess with his hair was lifted directly from this film.
Back to more swimming. Yep, these are some ‘wild women,’ all right. After an exciting two seconds of that, we return to Sparafucile, now combing his unruly locks. Betty Page Woman picks up his pocket mirror (that’s right, his pocket mirror). Seeing herself, she’s startled and drops it in the dirt. Sparafucile sputters, and it’s magically funny in the way that only a cranky short Italian whose pocket mirror has been dropped in the dirt can be.
Back to the woman swimming. Two seconds later, back to Sparafucile. Really, was the guy who edited this on crack, or what? Now the Count has more women crowding around. Apparently they’re being drawn by the mirror — insert your own gag here — whose function he’s managed to communicate. Then he begins to comb Betty Page Woman’s already neatly brushed hair. I think I see where this is going. Kirby and Trent escape at the end, but Sparafucile voluntarily stays behind to become the tribe’s desperately needed hair stylist.
Another Ulama grabs at the mirror, which Betty Page Woman is holding, and there’s trouble in paradise. (It seems obvious to me that the plot of The Gods Must Be Crazy was lifted from this film.) Sparafucile tries to intercede, but he’s a runty comic relief Italian, and so gets knocked to the ground as the two tussle. It’s a catfight. Thanks. We’ve about nineteen minutes of movie yet, so maybe they can squeeze in three or four more of these. As the two combatants go at it, the third woman slyly gathers up Sparafucile, throwing him over her shoulder (!) and carrying him off. Which is the closet the film comes to an actually funny gag.
The Queen and an escort take Trent and Kirby out for a stroll. The Queen halts the procession and the men step forward to join her. From their current position they can see three ragged looking males being guarded by some other tribe members. As is usual, these men are kept as worker slaves, as well as ‘husbands’ for the tribe members. The Queen is herself currently sans spouse, she reveals. Her last husband tried to run away and suddenly died of spear poisoning.
The gist is, surprise, that the Queen has decided to proclaim keep either Kirby or Trent as her exclusive boy toy and feed the other to the Fire God. This is heard by the other tribe members, listening in from a nearby bush. The Queen’s declaration doesn’t sit very well, as it apparently follows a tradition of her hogging all the new men rather than sharing them as she ought. “She have all men,” one woman complains, lest we fail to follow the gist of things. “We have no man!” she continues, and by now I trust everyone is up to speed.
Meanwhile, Sparafucile, still being carried on the one woman’s shoulders, is carried fairly close to their position. He ‘escapes,’ and runs to his comrades for protection from the hot blonde that was carrying him off. “Save me! Save me!” he cries. (Now do you see what I’m talking about?)
“Mama mia!” he cries upon reaching them. I have to admit, I’d been waiting the entire film for him to say that. “This woman, she’s omnivorous! She’s ferocious!” he shrills. Turning back to her, he yells “Shoo! Shoo!” Because it’s funny, you see. At his urging, the Queen sends the dejected woman away. The men, meanwhile, are glad to be reunited. Really, really glad. Not that I’m implying anything.
Time to take a quick break to review what we’ve learned so far. As we’ve seen, the Ulama tribe exhibits all the traits that define a Lost Society of Woman:
- A markedly small population, one that despite the anecdotal evidence provided appears too minute to militarily dominate rival tribes or provide for a sturdy gene pool.
- Counterintuitively poor weapons and fighting abilities.
- A weirdly small age-range among tribe members, with no children or older women evident.
- Fur bikinis.
- Surprisingly good hygiene.
- Possessing a primitive native vocabulary, while also exhibiting a rudimentary knowledge of English.
- Advanced make-up and hair styling.
- Belief in various generic superstitions and gods, and goofy ceremonies attendant to same.
- Really, really bad dancing skills.
- A proclivity for catfighting.
- A tendency to capture intruding males, use them as workers and love objects, and then bump them off.
- Caves with convenient klieg lighting.
- Leaders who disparage men but hoard all the male captives.
- Man-crazy subjects who resent same and are mulling rebellion.
Perhaps the only noticeable difference from other such tribes is a somewhat higher percentage of unattractive members. (i.e., more than one or percent.) One lady, in particular, bears an unfortunate resemblance to the Goon character featured in the old Popeye comic strip. The rebel leader, meanwhile, seems a female analog to Ernest Borgnine. Well, OK, that’s a bit harsh. Let’s say Ethel Merman, instead. In any case, there’s naturally a number of more comely woman present as well.
Back to the show. The men are brought out of the cave and told they are to fight the village champion. They laugh in disdain. “Imagine fighting a woman,” Trent laughs. Yeah, you might want to avoid that, given that the Ulamas have been kicking your collective asses ever since you came into contact with them. Here the Queen arrives. The men, looking sulky over their impending fate, sit down to mope. Kirby, however, first strips off his shirt. Dude, what’s up with that? Keep your damn clothes on, will ya?
With their lives on the line, Kirby steps forward to face the Ulama woman in combat. Given that his opponent has a good six inches in height on him, it’s not going to be a picnic. Quickly the two begin grappling. This goes on for some little while, although amazingly we don’t cut away to stock footage of leopards during any of it. Eventually, though, the Ulama warrior emerges victorious. The other women cheer and do a sort of predecessor to that “You go, girl!” thing. On the other hand, at least Sparafucile runs over and hands Kirby his shirt.
Next it’s Trent’s turn. Here his center-parted hair falls over his face, given him a disconcerting resemblance to Shemp Howard. This effect is somewhat exaggerated when the woman greets him with a roundhouse slap, although she fails to follow up by saying, “Why, you! I’ll murdalize ya!” The struggle commences. Trent proves of hardier stuff than his comrade, and victory is his. The Queen declares him her husband to be. Disgusted, Trent agrees that maybe they can be “friends” until they are allowed to leave the village. (Strong, yes. Observant, no.) The Queen laughs, telling him he will never leave.
Trent is appalled to see the other men being hauled off to the Fire God. He pleads with the Queen for their lives. Pushed to it, he even threatens violence. The Queen, however, has obviously herself put in a lot of time watching 3 Stooges shorts. All they needed to do here is dub in the sound of two hollow coconuts being rapped together, although sadly they fail to do so. After a barrage of these Stooge-esque blows, Trent is in little shape to continue with the threats. The Queen has him hauled off.
For about the tenth time, we see this one shot of the tribe members bowing before the Fire God. Sparafucile and Kirby, meanwhile, bitch about their upcoming fate. We see the preparations for the ceremony proceed. However, Ethel Merman Woman and The Goon have different ideas. Sick of being arbitrarily denied male companionship by their sovereign, they’ve decided that a little palace coup is in order.
Meanwhile, Trent gets a visit from the chick with the crush on him. Perhaps because there’s under nine minutes of movie left, they decide to actually give this character a name now. So Trent does that pointing at himself and saying his name thing, and she responds by identifying herself as Owoona. However, nine minutes can be a long time to fill when you’ve only three minutes of action left. Therefore we spend a lot of time, as usual, cutting away from the primary scene to extraneous shots. At this point these mostly show the tribe getting ready for the Queen’s wedding, the Queen herself preparing, and the conspirators glower.
Deciding that the script calls for it, er, I mean, that she must follow her heart, Owoona stops dressing Trent in wedding paraphernalia and leaves. After another long round of filler shots, she returns with Trent’s revolver, which she returns to him. This bit, needless to say, is filled with all sorts of Freudian significance, the gist of which I doubt you need me to spell out.
The rebels begin putting their plan into effect. Of the four ringleaders, one is the cute blonde who carried off Sparafucile before. The others, though, are Ethel Merman, the Goon and another very mannish looking Ulama. Frankly, the men might prefer the Fire God. Meanwhile, the two intended sacrifices are squawking at each other. Then Trent and Owoona show up, apparently through a tunnel linking the two caves. The fact that none of the men had discovered this up to know isn’t exactly polishing their credentials as savvy explorers.
The conspirators make their move. Ethel Merman and the Queen square off in a very awkwardly choreographed struggle. Meanwhile, Owoona shows the men a secret exit from the caves. One spear-wielding guard sees Trent emerging. However, it’s the end of the movie now, so he somehow manages to overcome her. (Perhaps to avoid straining our credulity, this occurs offscreen.)
The Queen has Ethel in an armlock when word of the escape reaches them. Putting their differences aside, they all grab spears and take off in pursuit. A none-too exciting chase scene follows, with the malnourished and exhausted men rather unconvincingly outrunning the Ulamas. In a moment fraught with subversion of orthodox gender roles, Sparafucile trips and falls during the chase. He’s helped up and the scene continues, although we do cut to an elliptical stock orangutan shot that we’ve seen a number times already. Other than composing a significant amount of the film’s scant running time, the regular inclusion of these extremely brief inserts doesn’t really seem to have much of a purpose.
Here comes the big payoff scene. OK, the big payoff scene is the one where the words “THE END” appear on the screen. More accurately, here comes the film’s climax, such as it is. Having still managed to outdistance the Ulamas, which continues to make little sense, the men come across the baggage they left near the edge of the cliff. Sparafucile yells to collect his supply of fireworks (he carried these up the mountain?!), as previously established. If you can remember back that far. Said artillery consists of some firecrackers and about three roman candles, although this proves enough to scare off their pursuers. The latter flee, running in terror.
We watch the Ulamas retreat. We cut to an orangutan. Then the three men, lounging on the ground. “I’m glad we got out of that scrape,” Trent observes. Yeah, when you think about it, he’s right. Sparafucile concurs. “I never want to see another woman as long as I live,” he asserts, which didn’t exactly bowl me over in a shock. They stare upward during this dialog, by the way, which is the only indication that they’re now down at the bottom of the mountain. The lack of continuity is annoying, but on the other hand, would we really like to delay the end of the movie so as to actually see them climbing down? No.
A smiling Owoona emerges from the brush. “She’s the one who saved our lives!” Trent informs the others, although hopefully they’d have remembered her doing this like ten minutes ago. She approaches Trent, gazing upon him in a moony fashion. Kirby and Sparafucile, who are standing extremely close to each other, not that I’m implying anything, laugh at this. “Looks like you’re stuck with her!” Kirby laughs, apparently finding such a situation worthy of mirth.
There’s a last bit of really lame comedy, which I’ll spare you, and a couple more orangutan shots, and then the foursome clasp hands and, much like Dorothy and her companions in The Wizard of Oz, go singing and skipping across the African veldt. (Really.) And with that merry send-off, we reach…The End.
Not a lot, really. Wild Women is pretty basic fare, both as a stock footage-laden jungle flick and as a Lost Society of Women movie. Perhaps its most distinguishing facet, other than the fact that it sucks even more than many of these, is that it’s extremely tame. For a film that should be swimming in sexual subtext, not a kiss occurs onscreen. In fact, much of the time the men are running away from the amorous intentions of their captors in something approaching a panic.
Moreover, other then possibly Trent’s father in the flashback sequence, nobody in the film dies.Still interested in this sort of thing? Aside from the examples provided by my fellow B-Masters, try Cat-Women of the Moon, Missile to the Moon, Fire Maidens from Outer Space, Prehistoric Women, and so on. Comic versions of such can be found in Abbott & Costello Go to Mars and the sketch comedy Amazon Women of the Moon. For films featuring modern day bands of women attempting to wrest control of the world, see Future Women, In Like Flint, and the TV movie/failed pilot Amazons.
There are many others, though. I myself am intrigued by 1951’s Untamed Women, both for the risible title and a plot involving a WWII military pilot shot down in the South Pacific who lands on an island containing the titular characters. Comic book fans will recognize this plotline as being stolen from the first issue of DC Comics’ Wonder Woman.Wild Woman was directed by Norman Dawn, who’d been helming films since the silent days. It was one of his last two pictures. The other being the lame pirate/dinosaur meller Two Lost Worlds (also 1951), with James Arness. Mr. North’s specialty seems to have been films set in exotic locals, including the Artic and, yes, Africa.
Trent was played by Lewis Wilson. Acting-wise, he hit the ground running, to an extent, by playing Bruce Wayne/Batman in the 1943 serial The Batman. (He did not return to the role, however, in the subsequent Batman and Robin, as reviewed here.) He must not have impressed many people, since the remainder of his film career involved mostly uncredited bit parts. He was busy doing such for a couple of years following his turn as Batman, then dropped out of sight. After eight years he returned to the screen in Wild Woman. Two more bits parts followed, including in a BBC TV Quatermass chapterplay. Then again he disappeared for twenty years, popping up in ’73 and ’74 for bit parts in British TV cop shows.
Clarence Brooks (Sunga), to my embarrassment, seems to have actually been a light-skinned black actor, and not a white guy in make-up. I could have changed the review before posting it, but hey, everyone knows I’m an idiot already. Mr. Brooks appeared in numerous ‘negro’ films of the ’30s and ’40s, including black Westerns like Harlem Rides the Range and The Bronze Buckaroo. Wild Women was also his last film.
The IMDB doesn’t identify the actor who played Sparafucile. The film, however, identifies him as Don Orlando. He does have an IMDB lisiting, and you can tell it’s him because he specialized in ethic roles, usually Hispanics and Italians. About his only credit of interest is a bit role as a fisherman in Ray Harryhausen’s 20 Million Years to Earth.
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