Combustible Celluloid
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With: Charlton Heston, Eleanor Parker, Abraham Sofaer, William Conrad, Romo Vincent, Douglas Fowley
Written by: Philip Yordan, Ranald MacDougall, based on a story by Carl Stephenson
Directed by: Byron Haskin
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 114
Date: 03/03/1954

The Naked Jungle (1954)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Visiting Ants

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

George Pal produced this film about a massive ant attack the same year that the ultimate giant ant movie, Them!, graced theaters. But surprisingly, these ants don't make their appearance until the final reel. The rest of the film is an oddly mature look at the friendship and romance between South American plantation master Christopher Leiningen (Charlton Heston) and his mail-order bride Joanna (Eleanor Parker). He clearly hoped for something like an ornament, something like the brand-new, unplayed piano he had shipped through the Amazon jungles, but Joanna is quite a bit more spirited and human. Director Byron Haskin (The War of the Worlds) treats this as A-list material, with amazing use of the huge, airy rooms of the plantation and the greenery surrounding it. His camera travels with graceful freedom around the dueling would-be lovers. The ant attack is just as realistic: no giant ants here, just lots and lots of little ones, banding together and doing enormous amounts of damage.

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