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 Post subject: The Naked Jungle
PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:02 am 
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Directed by: Byron Haskin
Production year: 1954
Starring: Charlton Heston, Eleanor Parker, Abraham Sofaer


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Plot:

It's 1901. At 19, tough, stubborn Christopher Leiningen came to South America and built levees to claim thousands of acres of Rio Negro river land for a chocolate plantation. Now 34, with no knowledge of women, he recruits a mail-order bride in New Orleans. She's beautiful, independent, and arrives ready to be his stalwart helpmate; however, no one has told him she's a widow. He rejects her. During the next week, as she awaits the boat to take her back to the US, they learn that legions of army ants will strike in a few days' time. She joins the fight to save the plantation; their courage and his probable loss of all he's worked for may crack his resolve to send her away.

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 Post subject: Re: The Naked Jungle
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 8:16 pm 
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This movie is my wife's favorite Charlton Heston movie. It is one of the few movies in which Mr. Heston is not a sympathetic charater. While not being a villian he is not a "true hero" type for that era. Arrogant is more of the attitude, or the anti hero type. His faults are what make this an excellent movie to watch. IMHO.

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 Post subject: Re: The Naked Jungle
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:56 pm 
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Yeah, he's pretty much a ***** at the beginning of the movie, at least towards his mail-order wife. It made his character really interesting.

I love this movie, it has a sort of Hitchcock feel to it. There may not always be stuff happening, but you can just feel it in the air that something is going to. I love the soundtrack as well, it perfectly catches the mood of the film.

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 Post subject: Re: The Naked Jungle
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:54 pm 
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THE NAKED JUNGLE is superb in every way. Along with SECRET OF THE INCAS, this movie proved that Heston was a great anti-hero in the Amazonian jungle.


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 Post subject: Re: The Naked Jungle
PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 11:27 pm 
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Has anyone here read the short story that this movie is based on, called Leiningen Vs the Ants? It's supposed to be very good and quite scary. I really want to get a copy of it.

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 Post subject: Re: The Naked Jungle
PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 12:37 am 
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Chuck's an anti-hero in this? Damn, that's awesome. Really making me want to see this.


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 Post subject: Re: The Naked Jungle
PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 1:40 am 
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Yes, the poor guy just want his cocoa beans left alone from those damned dirty ants!

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 Post subject: Re: The Naked Jungle
PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 6:18 am 
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To me, Heston came across like a ***** and anti-hero in the first half of the picture because he was insecure about how to handle a really classy woman like the one played by Eleanor Parker. This is what makes his character here stand out some from many of the others he played around that time. He played other characters which were kind of a-holes (Secret of the Incas, for one), but these were ruled by a sense of confidence - that's what drove their arrogance.

And those are easier to play, I would say. In this one, he had to project more subtle variations of such arrogance - I mean, he spells it out himself in the scene where he confesses his limitations to Parker's character; he had his insecurities. It certainly wasn't a 2-dimensional character he was playing here and that's one of the things that always made this film one of my personal favorites - he was a real person here, even with the usual larger-than-life presence, with human weakness in some select areas.
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Then of course there were all those ants... man, could even Heston step on all the ants? It was a great adventure and still is. Was this Heston's greatest challenge as a hero (or anti-hero)? I need to watch this one about once a year, for the past 30 years or so...


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 Post subject: Re: The Naked Jungle
PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 6:17 pm 
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Great write-up, Chrysagon. I agree & always love to see Heston play roles that he's not used of playing.

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 Post subject: Re: The Naked Jungle
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 4:08 am 
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Fun fact:

An episode of MacGyver (season one, episode six), called Trumbo's World, is based on this movie. Here's the storyline of the episode:

Mac visits a biologist in Brazilian Amazonia, where an unknown phenomenon causes all kinds of animals to flee massively. Joining the head-strong cocoa plantation founder Lucien Trumbo, who employs whole villages of native Indians and created his own self-sufficient little world carved out of the huge forest, they soon find the natural force at work is the unexplained rare awakening of the marabunta, massed colonies of billions of soldier ants who form armies miles wide and long, unstoppable and capable of devouring anything, devastating the whole landscape from grass and grasshoppers to cattle and towering trees. Trumbo, his loyal local lieutenant Luis and Mac try every defense he can think up, from flooding irrigation ditches to a ring of fire; their last hope is fabricating explosive to spring the dam which caught the biologist's worried attention in the first place, it takes a triggered pseudo-natural disaster to counter a real one...

They even used stock footage from the movie, which wasn't a problem because Paramount made both The Naked Jungle and MacGyver. Pretty much every shot of the ants are from The Naked Jungle, as well as the explosion of the dam and the aftermath of the explosion. There's even some shots of Heston as Leiningen (when his body, not face, is on camera) that is used at the end of the episode. They also used a pretty accurate replica of the house Leiningen has in the movie. They did a good job with it.

I think it would have been a nice touch if they had gotten Heston to play Trumbo in this episode. He did a lot of television work in the 80's, so I'm sure he'd at least consider it. Such a shame.

It's a very entertaining, clever and well made episode. Worth a watch even if you're not a big fan of the show MacGyver.

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