credits on this, with no names at all that I recognize. Produced and
directed by Edward Finney. A spinning globe, and we zoom into India,
and the town of “AKBAR.” Which is a long way from the
Amazon, though perhaps not “Amazons” as in a tribe of
women warriors. We watch a stock footage parade with elephants, guys
with turbans, and such, then we see three folks commenting on the
parade (without interacting with it, of course). There's old
rich-looking guy, somewhat goofy-looking professor-type guy, and a
young woman, who will probably be our love interest. Well, “ours”
in the editorial sense. Sheesh, you guys!
Old guy talks over the parade footage about how the three of them should be cautious, because even though everyone looks happy, there's an undercurrent of hatred for “someone” (I couldn't make out the name, old guy talks like he's had a few) even though said someone has “done everything to quiet them.” “There's a revolution in the offing,” he slurs.
Now another, younger guy shows up and says, either to “Jane” or “James” (the print for this movie is terrible, but what do you expect for 60 cents?) that he doesn't think they should stay here, “there's trouble brewing.” To which old guy responds that they shouldn't worry, whenever there's tension the natives hold a parade to blow off steam! Hey, old guy, make up your mind! Either there's danger or there ain't. Anyway, young guy says they shouldn't have come here at all, to which “Jean” responds that she's not leaving until she's found out what happened to “Greg.” Young guy says he knows how she feels, but Americans aren't very popular here just now. “Oh look,” says Jean, craning her neck, “there's the hotel where Greg stayed!” and they all go off there. Okay, we got our exposition out of this corridor, strike the set! I have a feeling this is going to be a pretty cheap ride.
After a bit more stock footage, we arrive at the hotel's front desk. We find out Old Guy is Colonel Jones. Turns out Greg came here on a Safari a month ago, and he's the Colonel's son. The desk clerk isn't terribly helpful about where he might be found...which I could have guessed myself (he's a hotel clerk, not the missing persons bureau)...there's some discussion about how hard it's going to be to find someone in all of India (yeah), while behind some shrubbery lurks a young Indian woman, watching them. “Notice that little native girl?” asks the Professor (no name for him yet). “Yes, she seemed particularly interested,” notes The Colonel. “Why, that's just what I was thinking!” says Prof, and they turn to see that she has mysteriously vanished! Of course, she could have just gotten bored and left while they were yapping....
Our party gets the keys to their rooms (207, 211 and 214) and move off; the music turns ominous while the desk clerk picks up a phone and asks for 226. We see a man's shadow answer the phone. He tells the clerk to detain the Jones rescue party. So I'm guessing I was wrong about that hotel clerk after all.
Cut to Jean straightening the place up, and the mystery woman from earlier shows up. Her name is Tandra, Jean asks about Greg (who is her fiance) and it turns out that Tandra's husband led the safari that Greg was on. She starts to tell us abou it, and we fade to some stock footage. Guys crossing a hill, a field, a tiger attacks them, everyone runs away except two unlucky guys, who get attacked. One of the guys walks right into the tiger and his hat turns from a turban into a pith helmet. The attacks are pretty well shot, to be honest (aside from hat confusion). We then cut back to Jean and Tandra, and Jean says that might not have been Greg's safari. But she wants to talk to Tandra's husband. Tandra refuses, saying there is too much danger. But Jean speaks the international language and hands over enough money to persuade Tandra....
More stock footage of a train station with elephants, and some more elephants on parades. We watch some guys on elephants doing a kind of “tractor pull” while The Colonel drones on and tells us that the Government encourages these kinds of sporting events because “the public take such a keen interest in them.” Well, duh. What kind of Govt would encourage things that interested no one? Other than ours, I mean. We hear some more about this stock footage. We also learn that the young guy's name is Wayne. He went to the market “in spite of the unrest.” Prof thinks the Colonel said Wayne went to the market “to rest” ie, to have a nap. See, it establishes Prof as the comedy relief. Still no name for Prof, though the Colonel seems to have sobered up a bit.
Back at Jean's room, Tandra reappears with her husband. “Perhaps you have a picture of the young man you are looking for?” Hey, didn't the husband LEAD the safari that Greg was on? I must have mis-heard something. Sorry about that folks, but I'm not rewinding! Of course I'll refund your money (snicker).
Anyway, Jean has a huge portrait of Greg (looks kind of like Robert Culp) and Tandra's Husband says “He not in last safari, he in one before! Hunt elephant tusks! Tusks this big! [He demonstrates].” He mentions some of their itinerary (including “Caibo, in Africa”--wow, a multi-continent safari) but as he speaks a hand with a gun pokes out of the curtains and shoots him!
The Shadow Man (now wearing a hat) tells the hotel clerk about the shooting and says to call the police. Back in Jean's room, our intrepid band is assembled and saying “Good thing no one heard the shot” because if the police found out, “they'd detain us for a month!” Thanks for the expo, Colonel. But it's pointed out that the natives are all in a tizzy (we see stock footage of same—people whacking each other with swords, slightly sped up) and Wayne says they should leave. There's a clipper bound for Africa, is everyone packed? Yes? Then off to the stock footage.
Over said stock footage, the Colonel (who seems to have started drinking again) mentions that they were “lucky” they had no further trouble and boarded the clipper for Africa, and “we all felt encouraged as it seemed at last we had picked up Greg's trail.” We see one of those planes that can land on water taking off—I guess the clipper ship footage was too expensive—and we zoom out from the India part of the globe.
The globe spins a bit and we zoom in on Africa, while the Colonel tells us they headed for “Caibo.” More footage of a riverboat. And a chess game between the Colonel and the Professor, with Colonel laughing and saying “Checkmate, Professor, checkmate!” So I guess that IS how that guy should be referred to. Score one for me!
Wayne gazes out the window at the stock footage crocs and hippos and birds. “Jean, when will you realize you're wasting your time with this search,” asks Wayne, about as woodenly as possible. “If Greg were alive, he'd have communicated with you by now, that is, if he wanted to. He's probably dead and long buried.” Wow, what a party pooper, Wayne. What are you along on this trip for, anyway? I'm sure it's not just to rest in markets. Say, I bet you're up to no good! You've been a wet blanket the whole time, and I bet it's for your own selfish reasons!
“Wayne, it was your idea to come with us, if you want to go back, go back!” Jean says, echoing my non-sinister thinking.
“Fine time to tell me that with alligators and lions and savages all around me,” Wayne says with all the passion of someone explaining mutual funds.
The Colonel laughs, “I think it was Horace Greeley who said there are times when it is more dangerous to go back than to go ahead.”
“Well I'm not Horace Greeley,” Wayne stonily intones. Lame, lame comeback, Wayne.
Jean chuckles and mimes pulling the brake line on a train as the boat bells chime. “Well, even on a trolley, that means go ahead.” Hey, I didn't know that.
Fade to a tropical village with “KYBO” (not “Caibo” as I'd spelt it) superimposed. Jean's all pith'd out, and the Colonel strides up to say that the authorities will help them out, but they won't allow them to go into the wild without a guide, and the only guide available is Gary Lambert, and he hates women. “He thinks they're a nuisance.” “Don't worry,” Jean says, “I'll take care of him.” And we cut to a guy target shooting with his pet blackbird (Jimmy) on his shoulder. He gives a new set of targets to the bird with the instruction to replace the ones he's shot all to heck. The bird, who's quite clever, does so. Then the Commissioner strides up. “Hello, Danny,” he says. I didn't think this was going to be Gary, he's very happy-go-lucky and not at all the kind to hate women. He seems more like a comedy relief foil for the Prof.
Oh...turns out the Commissioner has a heavy Norwegian (or some damn thing) accent (he also sounds like he's been hangin' with the Colonel, if you catch my drift), and he DID say “Gary.” He tells Gary about the safari, Gary's all “count me out” but this is a pretty frugal picture, we're not getting some cameo of some guy who will never appear again. He'll do it, we just have to slice through the cheese to get there. Gary pronounces safari as “sa FAIR ee.” There's some talk back and forth about the saFAIRee, how women are nuisances, they're useless in the jungle and blah blah, and Jean shows up and shoots perfect bullseyes in ALL Gary's targets. Ha ha ha, Gary! Shows you, I bet.
Yep. The Commissioner introduces them (the Commisioner talks like Tor Johnson, now that I think about it). Gary says, “Well, Annie Oakley, when do we start?” and we fade back to some stock footage stuff. And Gary is, like, TOTALLY over his dislike of women now. I mean, so much for that character trait. At least he can speak like a person, so as long as he and Wayne keep talking (they both wear pith helments) we can tell them apart. So when Wayne reveals his ultimate treachery and/or gets eaten by a tiger, we'll know it's OK, it's not Gary.
Speaking of being eaten by a tiger, what was the point of all that stuff earlier, back in India? The footage of the saFAIRee being attacked by a tiger. Maybe I was wrong about the stock footage budget, maybe it was a lot higher than I thought, and they just threw that in because it was pretty well staged. Hey, if a movie goes out of its way to entertain me, I can't argue too much about that...at least it WAS entertaining, after all.
Gary reveals he's having trouble getting Gabby, the “best cook in these parts” to be a part of the safari. Say, maybe if he and Jean talk to him together, they can convince him! So we cut to Gabby, who's cutting a potato and telling some pointless story, and he just screams comedy relief. Another comedy relief character? Prof, I'd be very, very careful where you step.
And ha ha ha, he's telling this story or poem or song to a monkey. Jean and Gary show up, and he goes on about his wife, and they all listen politely. There's more talk which doesn't matter much, as he agrees to go along anyway.
Later, in the next scene, the Commisioner finds Gary (and Jimmy) and says that this fellow Greg who's all being looked for by all and sundry, was sent here (to Africa) on A Mission. “There's a contraband ring working somewhere, shipping out ivory, and it was his job to find and stop them.” Not sure what this scene accomplished, as Gary had already agreed to go find this Greg guy...perhaps it just points out that this isn't just some lost tourist, there may be actual danger here. And we get to see Jimmy fetch a match for the Commissioner's pipe. Jimmy's pretty cool, hope he makes it to the end of the picture. What am I saying? Good grief, they want kids to see these things, they're not going to kill the animals. I hope.
Anyway, everyone's all ready to go...including the Commissioner. “I suppose HE has to come along,” grouses Wayne. “He said quite definitely we can't go without him,” Jean tells Wayne. Oh man, that means three comedy relief characters—the Prof, Gabby, and the Commissioner. I dunno if I've mentioned it already, but the Comm's kind of a goof and he has a comical accent. That's enough for a conviction in comedy relief precinct.
Once again, Jean offers Wayne the chance to bug out. “If you go, I'm going to look after you,” he says, and she answers, “If you like.” There's apparently no love lost here. Which makes ME wonder why he's along. We've got Greg's dad and fiance, and I suppose the Prof is going because, um, he's, ah, an expert on wildlife. Okay, I don't know why he's going. He's certainly going to be more a liability than any woman. He can't hear and he has thick glasses and he's (apparently) routinely beaten at chess. If they come across any native tribes of chess-players he's going to get them all in trouble.
Who else? Well, Gabby is the cook, Gary is the guide, there'll be native bearers, and the Commisioner. I suppose he's along because of all the secret stuff Greg was trying to find out.
Wayne and Prof, stay behind in the Motel Six, or at least baste in a nice sauce so when you're eaten you'll be flavorful.
Okay, they just walked off and said goodbye to the Commisioner! What the hell?
All right, I rewound (just for you, I'll have you note) and I'm GUESSING here that the “we can't go without him” line refers to Gary the guide. Geeze Louise, Wayne—you'd rather NOT go with a guide? You not only can't act, but you're an idiot too. You've got “villain” written all over you. Wayne somehow took an instant and unexplained dislike to Gary.
Anyway, our little band is off into the safari. Um, no, they're not. “The rate of pay isn't very high here,” the Colonel slurs over stock footage. “It'll take them two days to load our boats.” There's some footage of the natives doing some dancing. “That, my dear, is the origin of all modern dancing,” Colonel explains to Jean, and she says it looks like fun, and tells Colonel he “should try it sometime!” Colonel laughs. More stock footage. Including some shots of kids with bamboo shoots stuck into their faces! “The more pain they can endure, the more they are admired,” notes the Colonel. Hey, I respect other cultures and all, but ew!
Stock footage of a paddle-wheel boat going along the river. Gary, Jean and the Colonel admire the “Falls of Africa” but Gary points out it means this is as far as they can go by boat. “You wanted jungle, from here on, you've got it.”
The nature footage in this film is quite lovely, it's a pity it's so scratched and damaged. As we cut from the river to some grass huts, the Colonel muses that “we sensed we were coming closer and closer to danger.” And our party comes to some other grass huts, not quite as spectacular as the stock footage ones. Anway, Gary and the native chief greet one another.
“We're going deep into the jungle, we need forty good boys and one head man.” Oh dear, the bad old days. The chief says he will send Tonga, his best head man. “But first we have welcome dances for you, come now, you see.” I'm sure you can guess this means more stock footage, and you were right! Gold star for you.
The dancing footage is very good, but the instrumentation is modern reeds, brass and drums. (I'm supposing that the original stock footage was silent—it has that kind of jerky “look” to it.)
As I say, great stock footage here. Prof leers at a native woman, and Colonel reminds him, “Remember Professor, you're supposed to be interested in insects!” “But you find them in the strangest places!”
Well, we know Prof's speciality, now. Though we don't know, again, WHY he's on this mission.
More stock footage, as the group “buys supplies” because there won't be another village until they reach their destination. How do you know where your destination is, Colonel? I thought we were looking for Greg, and he's, like, totally missing.
Tonga and Gary discuss how the “forty boys” are scared of voodoo. I'm not going to point out how voodoo is a Carribean belief, not (directly) African...except I just did. Damn, I did it again! Sorry, sorry. Full refund. (Snicker.) I guess it has its roots in African native beliefs, but I'm fairly certain it's not African itself.
Anyway, Tonga mentions the specific voodoo they're afraid of: the white woman (which is Jean, in case you forgot). Because this reminds them of the white woman of legend, a “white goddess” who is some kind of she-devil.
“A white goddess? In the Jungle? She-devils?” And as if on cue, Jimmy (the bird) and Gabby's monkey create Pet Mischief to distract us all from the sudden gravity of the situation. Hey, thanks guys, but really, we weren't all scared or anything.
More stock footage, “That night, the natives danced the sacred fire dance to bring us good luck on our journey.”
Jean goes to see Gary. “These white women, Amazons, whatever you call them--” she says, and Gary says, “Amazons? You don't really believe there are such creatures out here in the jungle, do you?”
(The rest of us say, “Amazons, like in the title of the movie! Thanks for mentioning the word, Jean, otherwise we'd be all, like, feeling cheated and stuff.”)
Jean and Gary decide to ask Tonga about them. He is, alas, rather Steppin Fetchit about it all, googling his eyes and saying “They bad, they know EVERYTHING, they voodoo!” and going back to tending his fire.
But Gary grabs his pipe in that manly way movie heroes have done since time immemorial, and asks Tonga to speak.
“Long time,” Tonga says, “long, long time...big boat on ocean...” and we fade to more stock footage! We see what looks like more silent footage of a big luxury liner sinking. Tonga mentions that the women were loaded onto lifeboats, and they were the only ones to make it to shore. They made camp in the jungle, and they're the she-devils everyone's so on about.
Jean laughs it all off as myth, Greek mythology, but Gary counters that “there's plenty of fact in what Tonga says.” Well, yeah, smart guy, we just saw it all in stock footage! These “Amazons” are survivors of a shipwreck, what the hell is so hard to understand about that?
“Despite the warnings of Tonga” Colonal narrates over stock footage, “we...were determined at all costs to bring our search to a successful conclusion.”
“Innumeable obstacles seemed to bar our progress, there was danger all around us. Even the monkeys jabbered, as if to warn us.” It's a damn good thing they added that last line, cos all I've been looking at is footage of peeved monkeys, and I'm sorry, peeved monkeys do not innumerable dangers make.
More stock footage shows a line of natives leading our expedition through the grasslands. Thank God they escaped those monkeys!
Our explorers stop to watch some giraffes through a telescope. Jimmy flies off. “He'll come back, he always does.” Now some zebras. And some springtails who seem to be moving in slow motion.
Then, a break in the case! Tonga says that one of the guys found an American gold coin. “Why, that's Greg's, I gave it to him!” says Jean. What, you mean we're not going off to South America? Or Australia, or the Far East? What kind of rip-off, cheap two-continent safari did Greg go and get himself lost on, anyway? Tonga says the coin was given to the guy who found it by a white man. Jean's sure they're on the right track. Let's hope so. Though we haven't seen any gibbons, yet. Or lions. Or rhinos, for that matter. Don't cheat us out of the rest of the zoo, guys. We paid our sixty cents and everything.
The party decide to make camp. “Night after night, as we made camp,” narrates the Colonel. Night after night? What are they doing, building cabins or something? Anyway, he goes on to note that “our nerves were set on edge by a series of minor mishaps. It seemed as if an evil force were trying to impede our progress.” You know it's Wayne, man. I'd put five dollars on it if I had five dollars.
Gary confirms to Jean that there is a “white woman, a she-devil” and she's holding Greg prisoner, according to the natives. No time for that now, as a lion strolls into camp. It is, however, a male lion—why is he out hunting? He's got females to do that for him, doesn't he? (I watch a lot of nature shows.) Jimmy shouts a warning, but the lion jumps on Gary! But fortunately, Gary is damn strong and keeps the lion at bay.
Wayne grabs a burning stick from the fire and uses it to drive off the lion. Gary says thanks, but he wishes it had been anyone else but Wayne. Now, we only know Wayne is evil because of circumstantial evidence, Gary! Wayne says he didn't do it because he liked him (Gary). He stalks off while Gary calls out thanks, anyway. Does Wayne smell bad or something? Or does his villainy drive everyone off?
Wayne tells the Colonel he knows who's responsible for all the mishaps. Of course he mutters this stonily so the Colonel just poo-poos it. Back to Gary, he says he lion had a collar around its neck! Jimmy jumps at Gabby's monkey, who squawks, and Jean jumps into Gary's arms. Oops! They quickly recover their decorum. Anway, Jean and Gary talk about their aims. It turns out that Jean and Greg aren't that solid, see. Soft music plays. Seems like Wayne is a frustrated suitor, too. (Maybe this explains why he hates Gary, since Gary's got “male love interest” written all over him.) Anyway, Gary and Jean talk about love, blah blah blah. He keeps asking her, if there was no Greg, would she be happy with Wayne? Or with him (Gary)? Or what? “You've got me so mixed up!” says Jean. “That's what I'm trying to do!” he says.
The next morning, a footprint is found. They break camp (does that take several days, too?) Suddenly the call goes out, there's been a white man injured! Turns out it was...Wayne. He's not just injured, he's dead with a spear in his back. Man, I had him all pegged as the villain, too. Gary confirms his death by putting his hand on Wayne's ass. Man, the ways of the jungle...
Back to the footprint. “That footprint was made to look like a native. But it was made by a white man,” Gary says.
“But surely that's impossible!” Jean objects.
“That print was made by someone used to wearing shoes,” Gary points out. He also notes that the only white men who are supposed to be around are in this camp. Maybe...it was Greg. And he's thrown his lot in with the smugglers! I better stop before I make a fool of myself with the villains.
Back to safari footage. “With heavy hearts we continued our journey, missing Wayne a hundred times a day.” I had no idea he was a) so essential or b) so well liked. Seemed rather the opposite on both counts, but maybe the Colonel's just being nice.
Now we see some lionesses, and a cute lion cub. More bearers. More lions. And a locust swarm. Luckily, the locusts all travel in a kind of river so these folks can stand right there and watch, and make camp, and that swarm won't bother them. The thing is, they're pitching camp in lion country. This isn't me noticing something they haven't. Tonga told them straight up it was lion country. As the music swells to a dramatic chord, we see a lioness...lie down.
All the while, Colonel's been stating the obvious (locusts, lions) and now he tells us that some “forboding” had “taken hold” of Bombo (he's the guy who had the gold coin). His “courage and confidence were fast disappearing” and we see Bombo's feet walking across the grass...followed moments later by bare white feet! A lioness takes note of this, in the same way my cats take note when I open the refrigerator. The lioness takes off after Bombo, who runs away (to the strains of the Ride of the Valkyries!). He gets his only close up to scream really exaggeratedly. And the lioness jumps on him. More lionesses appear, and then buzzards. Kind of nicely understated, but we get the idea.
Gary mentions that only Bombo had the directions to get to the Amazons, I mean, the white she-devils. The whoevers. “The day he confided those directions to Wayne, Wayne was killed.” Seems to me the murderer is in the camp! But why not kill Bombo first? No need to kill Wayne then. Unless the murderer didn't know who had the directions, and only found out when Wayne was told. So who's the murderer?
The Prof, maybe? The whole fuddy-duddy thing is an act?
Tell you what, let's all watch and find out!
They all decide to go on, Jean has “a feeling” that they're not too far away. But before they go, Tonga decides he and his men are going to get the lioness, since she got Bombo. “That's a fine idea, Tonga,” says Gary, and he doesn't laugh at all at the immense, ridiculous hat Tonga is now wearing. It's kind of like an Indian headress made of fur instead of feathers. Your simple hat looked a lot more dignified, Tonga.
More stock footage, this time of a lion hunting dance, and subsequent lion hunt. More footage of lions and wildebeests. The lion hunting party crosses a river, and we see hippos. A young zebra. More lions, some gnus. The party approaches the lions (never in the same shot, though). The lions act just like my cats when they know they've done something bad.
Well, they trap the lion, but they're not too good at this, as it kills two of the men before they stick it full of spears. And back to business with the safari and bearers and stuff.
“Finally we reached elephant country, and somewhere up ahead was our goal—the forbidden territory, presided over by the white goddess.” Yeah, I like elephants.
Now we see Gary painting a big gorilla on a bit of canvas or something. Suddenly an arrow pierces the gorilla's heart, but it's just Jean—now decked out in some native-style (rather revealing) clothing, and with her hair down. She sends another arrow right into the gorilla's nose. She goes and sits on Gary's knee. And she calls him “Greg.”
Oh! Greg! Damn, sorry, apparently, this is the realm of the she-devils, this is the long lost Greg (sure looks like Gary) and the woman is either the Amazon Queen herself or someone pretty high up in the hierarchy. She asks if Greg is “tired of” her and he says, no, no. He sure doesn't seem unhappy, prisoner of the Amazons and all. And see, this gal is just as deadly a shot as Jean, so you can understand my confusion. Anyway, the woman's name is “Zita” and she does have a kind of crown (made of plants). The lions around start acting up, and she's all ticked off about it. “What's going on here?” She flicks a whip at one, and it quiets down nicely. “Zita, my dear, you're quite a Queen,” Gary—GREG says. So, I guess this is the Amazon Queen! And it's only taken us forty minutes to get here.
Then, Zita notices that one of her lions is hurt. “It's a bullet wound—that means strangers!” she says. And we cut to the interior of her Gilligan's Island type hut, including nicely woven furniture and flower arrangements. “Greg—you're angry with me because I sent for information about that safari!” Man, it's a good thing Wayne is dead, cos Zita is just as stilted in her delivery. Just imagine if those two had had a conversation! The mind yawns in terror!
Anyway, Greg just wanted to meet these people, Zita points out that it's more important that they attend the Council. “It's the only way to keep the natives in line.” Man, again with the restless natives! Either this film was way progressive for its day, or the screenwriter was just lazy—you make the call.
So, Greg decides that he'll go to the “Council” cause it'll make Zita happy. More smooching. Then, Greg runs off suddenly like he's got to take a wicked pee. And Zita turns to her pet lion and says, “When that safari arrives, we'll take care of it our own way, without any interference from anyone!” and that doesn't sound good, what with all the lions eating people and stuff that's been going on. Plus the fact that Zita is a she-devil! Doesn't sound like they're going to hand out brochures and serve cocktails, folks.
Back to the safari and the folks who confusingly resemble Greg and a more sedate Zita. Three painted warriors appear. “What do you want?” Gre—GARY asks them, and they hand him a scroll. “Three of your party may proceed to my camp,” reads the scroll, “but only three. You'll be guided by the bearer of this note. I promise you safe return. Zita.”
Well, the three are going to be the Colonel, Gary and Jean. Oh, the other two put up a predictable this-may-be-a-trap, no-place-for-a-woman song and dance, but she's going.
Back to Zita, who is being groomed by a blonde. “You're just too beautiful!” the blonde gushes.
“Oh, a woman can never be TOO beautiful!” Zita says, and they giggle over this.
“You know, I really think some of the girls are jealous of you!”
“They are?” Zita asks, with a look that says Off with their heads!
Blonde doesn't notice this (and I may be making too much of it—I do that), “Oh, but they all worship you, of course!” And the lion in the background yawns, and Greg shows up. “They aren't the only ones who worship you!” he says (that smoothy!) and they all giggle at that too.
Greg mentions that he's going to the Council meeting, as ordered, but he asks Zita to promise him that she'll detain the safari until he gets back. “Of course, darling, if you want me to.” He says “I do,” and gives her more smooches. So, I kinda think it was a good thing that Jean, earlier, said she was going to marry Greg solely because that was the only thing she knew to do, and how it was confusing that Gary liked her, and she liked Gary...I've got this feeling it will all get sorted out. You know, Greg and Zita, and Gary and Jean. And maybe Jimmy and Gabby's monkey! Ha ha ha, I'm the funniest guy on the planet. It's just a very small planet.
And the the three painted warriors lead the Colonel, Gary and Jean into the village, which is a fairly small ranch out on the plain, surrounded by gates like an old wild west fort. Odd, Greg hasn't had time to leave yet...hope this won't be awkward, like. Blonde hair-dresser walks by the three, and they look at her, like, hm, shipwrecked women, yeah, go figure, huh.
Anyway, they meet Zita. “Why are you attempting to enter my territory? Everyone knows that strangers are not welcome here!” Geez, lady, chill a bit, huh!
“We've come to investigate a rumor,” Gary...um, yes, Gary says. “That a safari was attacked near here, and all the members killed except one...whom you're holding prisoner.”
Stop the press. If this is true, if Zita killed everyone except...Greg...then that makes him rather despicable. All his safari, including possible friends and native folks he has hired, killed? And it's OKAY because he gets to shack up with the Queen? Ew. Greg...this better not be the case.
“My warriors resent strangers. They are determined to kill all who attempt to invade this country. If I had been informed in time, I might have been able to save the other members of the party you speak of. As for the one member I was able to save, he is no prisoner—he remains here of his own will.”
Hm, kind of sounds like Zita doesn't have much control over what happens, then. “If I had been informed in time”? Not much of a Queen, methinks.
Jean wants to see the survivor. Zita is cool with that. She leads them into her Pier One Imports hut and asks them to sit, then says that the must be tired after their journey, would you like some refreshments?
Ah-ha. You just told these folks you hate strangers, and that your warriors kill strangers, and that doesn't particularly bother you. And you're offering them refreshments. Me, I'd hesitate.
Not these three. Hey, that sounds great! Make mine a double. Something “diet” for me. Zita calls to her servant “Shuggie” (looks like the blonde again—she really gets around) and tells her to bring food and refreshments. Zita pours them something from an urn. Gary mentions how he'd told Miss Preston [Jean] how hard it would be to find Greg Jones, and Zita says, “But Miss Preston wouldn't be convinced?” and Jean says, not without exhausting every possible viewer...um, I mean, avenue of, uh, looking. “So the sole reason of this safari was to find Greg Jones?” asks Zita. “What other reason could there be?” Gary says. Zita mentions a number of possibilities, including the ivory trade. “Men come into the jungle for all sorts of reasons,” she says. She doesn't mention stock footage but I bet that's high on the list.
Zita mentions this is why they have to enforce their isolation. The Colonel apologizes for barging in and all, but asks if Zita can understand their worry? Zita says sure, Greg can be very stubborn, I tried to make him send a message, but he wouldn't! Nonetheless, she adds, “I anticipated meeting all of you.” And the cynic in me says, that can't be a good sign. But Zita flips me the finger (figuratively) and takes a big drink from what she just poured for the others. So it ain't poison.
Fade to later, the Colonel once again sounds like he's had a couple over the limit, and says, “This is all very interesting, my dear,” [it is?] “but we came here on a definite mission.”
“Yes, when do we see Greg?” asks Jean.
“He's representing me now, at the Council of the Chiefs,” Zita offers. She tells the others how he's already become top dog here in the area.
“Yes, he's a remarkable boy,” says the Colonel, “and so are you, my dear. Tell me, how did you manage to acquire such a marvelous education here in the jungle?”
Zita tells how, when the ship wrecked upon the shore, her mother taught all the children. “She was a natural leader, so the others followed her. Now, they follow me.”
At this point, I guess I should come clean, and say I was expecting all kinds of double-dealing and betrayals and badness and stuff, and this film has steadfastly refused to deliver any of it. Other than the Shadow Man near the beginning, everyone has been remarkably forthcoming and helpful. Even Wayne died with my predictions of villainly ringing bitterly in his ears.
Still, I have to wonder...is there a plot here? Or did the producer just happen upon a wondrous cache of stock footage and some willing players and gaze upon them with a wild surmise, silent upon a peak in Darien? Is there a story to be told, or just some nice stock footage of animals and African native customs? We had that scare earlier about a white man trying to fake footprints, and a lion with a collar, and suspicious turns of bad luck...I don't know about you, but when I see or hear these sorts of things, I kinda, well, try to construct a “plot” in which to place them...to me, they're not just casual occurrences (not in the world of the movies, anyway). These things were introduced, consciously, by a writer, to add to a plot and tell a story.
Which is my roundabout way of NOT apologizing for getting this stuff wrong. I'm trying to watch a movie, not a sitcom. Imagine Psycho, Norman Bates mother rips open the shower curtain...and asks Marion Crane if the water temperature is fine and if there's enough shampoo, cos she can run and get more, or maybe send Norman, he's such a good boy...
Well, back to the film at hand, “Queen of the Amazons.” Zita says she's been thinking about inviting some white guys here, since some of the girls are old enough to marry. “So I see,” says Jean. Colonel asks if he can smoke his special cigar. Zita says sure, then asks if she and Jean can speak...alone. And the two of them go off into another room.
“I sent Greg on an important mission,” Zita says, “but he'll be back before you leave.”
“Yes, I know...I have no intention of leaving until he does get back.”
“You still think I'm holding him here against his will.”
“Well, it does seem likely.”
“It's what you prefer to believe, naturally. But it isn't true! The fact is, that Greg has fallen in love with me, and I with him.”
“I'll believe that when I hear him tell it.”
“You don't suppose I'd be foolish enough to tell it if it weren't so? Knowing that you're going to see him presently? I could have waited to have him tell you because I know he will. But I thought it better to settle it, frankly, between ourselves.”
“I don't see that there's anything to settle.”
“But Greg has promised to marry you! And men are stupid, when bound by such promises! All I know is, is that he loves me. And if he were free, he'd marry me.”
“With such confidence, you can hardly refuse my request,” says Davros. “After all, it was you who first used the word...democracy.”
Oh, sorry, that's from The Genesis of the Daleks, off Doctor Who. Jean actually says, “As far as his promise goes, don't think that I'd hold him for one instant. If he really wanted to be free.”
“Do you really mean that? Honestly?”
“Of course I do.”
“I'm glad you're inclined to feel so sensitive about it...because I would have had you killed, rather than give him up. [Are we looking at drama, or conflict?] You see, here in the jungle, such things are very easily managed. And I'm not bound by the conventional laws of society that hamper you! Greg says, I'm more than half savage—and, maybe I am. All I know is, that I am willing to fight for what I want, and won't stop short of anything to get it.”
“And Greg really means that much to you.”
“He really means that much—don't make any mistake about it.” A glance at Jean. “Now that we understand each other, I don't see why we shouldn't be friends.”
“Why not?” Jean laughs. And the opportunity just...evaporates. So, no drama or conflict.
And let me just cut in here to explain my confusion. You see, everyone was going on and on about how the Amazon Queen was an evil she-devil, with bad voodoo and a hand in the destiny of the jungle. So I guess I was expecting her to be, you know, kind of evil and she-devily with a hint of bad voodoo. But she's not evil at all. I think the worst you can say abou her is “determined” and that's hardly a bad thing. All that build-up of the dreaded Amazon Queen and she turns out to be determined but fair-minded and a pretty good hostess. Sheesh!
Anyway, back to the action. Outside in the other room, we hear the Prof going on about something. Turns out he's been picked up by two Amazons, who, I guess, will soon confess that he's cute or something. But ooh, the angry glare that Zita gives him! The two Amazons drop him on the floor, and stalk off after Zita. Oops, no, Zita is still there. And she starts talking to Gary, saying how he and Jean have spent hours together on this long trek, and...well, not really hinting or anything. Hey, Gary, you and Jean, huh? You know? You and her, like? It goes on for a while, but I mean, Jean's already said “Greg's yours, Zita” and Zita's just stating the obvious here.
Well, so much for that, Gary starts grilling Zita on the contraband ivory business. “You're asking for trouble,” Zita says, but Gary presses on. He wants the name of the guy behind it all. She's willing to cooperate and name names, but the big guy in question shows up, with a gun..and it turns out to be...Gabby, the cook. Well, I didn't see that coming, though, to be honest, I thought his comedy relief duties were pretty light during this picture.
“I knew about this Greg guy, but I didn't think you'd sell me out for him,” Gabby says. He confesses to all the killings and stuff, then says they all know too much to live, now. Gabby has the guys herded out by the warriors in his employ, but “the ladies remain.” Gabby, you cad! No wonder your pet was a treacherous monkey! (Monkeys are always trouble, remember the Wizard of Oz?)
Anyway, the remaining safari guys rescue the white guys, with a bit of subterfuge. And some huts are set on fire, and the Prof almost gets speared because he's too enrapt by the exotic insects he's finding! See, it's funny, because, uh, well, I'm sure it worked on paper.
And Greg shows up with a bunch of friendly natives. And Colonel and Greg have a nice father-son meeting, whereby the Colonel rebukes the boy for no messages, and Greg says he sent several messages, “someone must have stopped them!” All the while they're shooting bad natives, and good natives are doing heroic things. (Gary, by the way, has run off to rescue the women.) “Must have been Gabby!” says Colonel, and sure enough, we cut to him reciting some kind of poem or song or some damn thing.
“Men must work, and women must weep; and the sooner it's over, the sooner to sleep.” Gabby's going to kill Zita by the “ways of the jungle” and he chucks a spear at her...which misses. Not by much, mind, but it misses anyway. Everyone looks surprised by this. Luckily, Gary shows up, and he and Gabby have a nice fist fight. Of course, Gabby cheats a lot, and the women don't help at all. And the monkey yells, but does nothing. Finally, the hair-braiding gal (Shuggie?) shows up with a blow gun and shoots a dart into nasty Gabby.
He collapses and (I'm guessing) dies. Zita is really, really grateful, not to hair-braiding gal but to Gary. “I don't know how to thank you,” she says.
Gabby recites his poem again and dies, and the monkey mourns, and we cut to happy music and the next day.
“Professor,” Colonel says, “this is probably the first double-wedding ceremony that's ever taken place in the jungle.” “That's why the Commissioner came last night!” the Prof expositions.
“Isn't it wonderful?” says the Colonel.
“Wonderful? It is,” responds the prof, but he's looking at some giant bug he's found; he gives the Latin name and everything.
“Looks like a spider to me,” says Colonel, and he's too polite to mention that it looks like a cut-in close-up photograph of a spider as well. Anyway, we see happy natives carting off ivory tusks. “That ivory's going in the right direction at last,” says Gary (I think). “That completes my mission here,” says Greg. “I'm leaving my wild jungle life behind me,” offers Zita (Jean has gone totally native, and grown a couple feet of hair, too).
“Wild jungle life?” says the Prof, “you should see one of our nightclubs!” And everyone has a good laugh, and it's THE END.
You know, it's all about context. If I had just watched Citizen Kane or Dark City or some film that I really enjoyed, this probably would have been pretty damned painful. Instead, I'd just watched “The Incredible Petrified World” so, in contrast, this movie didn't seem so bad. Ultimately, though, I don't think I can recommend it to you, except in the faintest way...though my resolve is anything but solid, here.
The film certainly has plot all over the map (literally) but an almost rudimentary story. Usually in these kinds of “lost civilization” stories there are various expected bits of business—the entrance to the Lost Civ is hidden behind a volcano or otherwise inaccessable (which is why it's Lost), and there's usually a “contest of the champions” between the women (Amazon Queen and Our Heroine) to determine the fate of the outsiders. Here, the Lost Civ is basicaly just a medium size ranch out on the plains, and the confrontation between Zita and Jean is just a straight-forward, “Well, you can't have Greg,” met with “Okay.” It's nice in a way that the old cliche's were avoided, but the film-makers didn't replace them with anything exciting or interesting. Gabby, as the villain pretty much came out of left-field (and the actor did a great job of contrasting Jovial Gabby with Evil Smuggler) and it's no wonder: how can he be the best cook to take on a safari if he's frequently off in India directing ivory smuggling? Usually in this sort of film, the Villain would be a rescued member of the previous expedition, and again, it's nice they took a different route, but Gabby-as-Villain really came from nowhere.
Good stuff: the documentary stock footage was, in many cases, quite wonderful. (I feel like Prof with a big specimen of insect.) Should you see it? Overall, I'd have to say no, but if it does show up on television you might want to watch it for the nature and scenic footage. I said it was good stuff often enough, it must have sunk in by now. But don't stay up too late if you have work tomorrow. Still, the movie was good-natured film-making and genuinely tried to be entertaining, so I can't be too hard on it. There are many, many worse films out there (I've seen my share), this little fellow deserves some credit for the positives.