The Naked Jungle

Director: Byron Haskin

Cast: Charlton Heston, Eleanor Parker, William Conrad, Abraham Sofaer, John Dierkes, Norma Calderon, Romo Vincent, Douglas Fowley, Leonard Strong, John Mansfield

A river boat carrying Joanna (Parker) arrives at the dock of a remote South American plantation. Joanna is there to meet her new husband, plantation owner Christopher Leiningen, who she has married by proxy. A government commissioner (Conrad) travels in the same boat. Instead of being met by her husband at the dock, Joanna is greeted by the plantation's native overseer, Incacha (Sofaer). When Leiningen (Heston) finally shows up, he seems more consumed with the task of running his plantation than with welcoming his bride. Before leaving to continue his trip, the commissioner tells Leiningen his purpose is to investigate disturbing rumors about dire events happening upstream. Leiningen employs hundreds of laborers and has wrested the plantation from the jungle through intelligent planning and reasoned approach to problem solving. But he is inconsistent and unsure in his treatment of his bride. Joanna is beautiful and seems ready to be his stalwart helpmate, but when Leiningen learns she is a widow he rejects the notion of being with a woman that has known another man. The commissioner returns with news that legions of army ants, the Marabunta, are approaching, cutting a 20 mile wide swath through the jungle. The owner of a neighboring plantation, Gruber (Dierkes), turns up dead, devoured by the ants. The commissioner departs after admonishing Leiningen to leave or perish. But Leiningen refuses to give up the home he fought so hard to create. He resolves to make a stand against the fearsome natural predator, and Joanna joins the fight to save the plantation. Leiningen makes elaborate preparations to fend off the Marabunta. Though the natives are a naturally superstitious and frightened lot, they trust Leiningen and join in building moats and other obstacles to the approaching horde. The ants arrive, devouring everything they come upon and posing the ultimate test of Leiningenís courage and ingenuity. Produced by George Pal. Special effects by Farciot Edouart and John Fulton. Based on the story Leiningen Versus the Ants by Carl Stephenson, originally published in Esquire magazine.


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