Jungle Girl (1941) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||1941|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||None||Smoking||Yes, the villains always smoke|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Many years ago Dr. John Meredith (Trevor Bardette) had fled civilization and gone to darkest Africa with his infant daughter Nyoka because of the criminal activities of his twin brother Bradley. Using his medical skills he had cured the chief of the Masamba tribe, becoming the “white witch doctor” of the tribe. As a result he came into possession of the lion amulet, a token that was thought by the tribe to possess great spiritual power. The amulet also allowed the possessor access to the fabulous wealth of the Masamba diamonds, held in safety in the Caves of Nakros and guarded by lion warriors.
The long first chapter of the serial is Death by Voodoo (this episode is 28 minutes in length, the other episodes are all approximately 17 minutes). As Chapter 1 starts Nyoka (Frances Gifford) is now a young woman with a neat range of jungle skills and vine swinging. Dr. Meredith is visited by “Slick” Latimer (Gerald Mohr), who tells him that his brother Bradley is drying nearby and asks for help. It is a trap: Bradley is alive and wants John to help him steal the Masamba diamonds. When John refuses, he is shot and killed by Latimer, and Bradley assumes John’s identity. At the same time a rival disgruntled witchdoctor, Shamba (Frank Lackteen), tries to kill Nyoka in the Caves of Nakros but she is saved by bush pilot Jack Stanton (Tom Neal) and his friend “Curley” Rogers (Eddie Acuff). However, Shamba has gotten away with the lion amulet and it is up to Nyoka and Jack to get it back. As the series progresses, Latimer works in secret with Shamba, aiming to get hold of the diamonds, while all Shamba wants is to get rid of all the whites invading his jungle. The three way battle lines have been drawn.
Jungle Girl was directed jointly by John English and William Witney, both experienced serial directors who knew exactly what they were doing. They would both continue to direct film and television for decades, with English still directing episodes of Lassie in 1966 and Whitney directing episodes of The High Chaparral in 1968 and The Cowboys in 1974!
In true serial fashion, each episode of Jungle Girl ends with one or both of the main stars in grave danger, while the next episode commences with a recap of the previous cliff hanging ending before resolving it and getting on with the story. In Jungle Girl the situations are fairly repetitive even with the six credited screen writers – I lost count of the times Nyoka is captured, the child Kimbu (Tommy Cook) rushes to Jack who heads off to the rescue. As well, Shamba, one of the main villains, disappears for around 5 chapters, about 1/3 of the serial! Yet, these serials were not intended to be watched end to end but at weekly intervals when the action and cliff-hanging aspects were more important than plotlines.
The cast are a mixed bag. Frances Gifford looks great in a short skirt and is very athletic when she (or her stunt double) swings through the trees. Unfortunately, this leading role in Jungle Girl was her career highlight. Tom Neal is OK, but pedestrian, while Frank Lackteen is disappointing at one of the main villains. Thankfully, the other villain, Gerald Mohr, as the duplicitous Latimer, is smug and slimy, just the type we all love to see get his! Perhaps the worst performance, however, comes from the man in the gorilla suit in Chapters 10 and 11!
Jungle Girl features a heroine in a short shirt swinging through the jungle, natives with spears and arrows, narrow escapes, dangerous animals and cliff-hanging sequences. It is fast paced and exciting with some nice cliff-hanging sequences and stunts. What’s not to like? .
Jungle Girl is an unrestored NTSC black and white print from 1941 presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not16x9 enhanced. The original ratio was 1.37:1. The print shows evidence of damage but was better than I had expected.
Over the 15 episodes the print is very soft, with variable brightness and contrast. Detail is hazy, especially in outdoor sequences. Scratches and dirt marks are frequent, but most are small and not distracting. This is the good news. In contrast, there are frequent macro-blocking errors but most are not too bad and the film seldom breaks up too badly; perhaps the worst is during the last half of chapter 7, such as at 8:37 or 9:13, although the last episode, number 15, is also poor. There are also frequent interlacing errors, but most are fleeting. A more distracting issue is the blacks, which are grey and waver across the frame. There are lots of examples; freeze the picture at 19:14 in chapter 1 or 12:08 in chapter 3, for example, but some of the more extreme examples are in chapters 5 and 6, such as around 15:27 chapter 5. Not surprisingly, shadow detail is indistinct to occasionally impossibly blurry.
There are no subtitles.
Audio is an English Linear PCM track at 1536 Kbps. The dialogue is mostly good, although there is occasional distortion, hiss and the odd crackle, the effects flat. However, this is perfectly acceptable in something of this vintage.
The audio is recorded at a fairly low level, so the volume needs to be increases. Be warned, however, that in contrast the menu audio is very loud!
The score by Cy Feuer is quite a nice adjunct – it is melodramatic and added to the tension . . . and the escapes.
I noticed a few minor lip synchronization problems, but nothing serious.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The US Region 1 release of Jungle Girl is also remastered from the same tape in the British Film Institute as our release but has the serial on only two discs, chapters 1-10 on disc 1 and 11-15 on disc 2. It also has a photo gallery, biographies and trailers, but I doubt this is any reason to import.
Jungle Girl is a 15 part Republic Pictures serial from 1941 with a heroine in a short shirt swinging through the jungle, natives with spears and arrows, narrow escapes, dangerous animals and cliff-hanging sequences. Jungle Girl is great fun and a must for fans of the golden age of serials.
The video is better than I expected from an unrestored NTSC print from 1941, the audio is adequate. There are no extras, but for a RPI of $19.95 this is good value for fans of 1940s serials.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|