Category Archives: Retro reviews

WIZ Retro Review: The Jungle Princess starring Dorothy Lamour

The Jungle Princess

Graceful and alluring Dorothy Lamour stars as Ulah, The Jungle Princess, in this chimerical but endearing, black-and-white 1936 Paramount production that launched her career.  Ray Milland co-stars as Christopher Powell, a hunter who comes to the Malaysian jungle to capture wild animals but himself falls captive to Ulah’s native beauty, her stunning singing voice, and her child-like candor. The Jungle Princess taps deeply into the fantasy of the orphaned, nature-nurtured child, who by virtue of being human ascends to the throne of wild domains.  The roughly contemporary Tarzan franchise starring Olympic medalist Johnny Weissmuller (12 films between 1918 and 1948) and the1942 version of The Jungle Book starring Sabu also capitalized on that tradition.  And let’s not forget Johnny Shepherd as Bomba, The Jungle Boy.

When I was a kid, I loved this stuff.  Being a semi-nature child myself who kept company with wild animals in the woods and weeds of Virginia, movies of this sort, no matter how silly, made perfect sense.   Oscar-nominated The Jungle Book is far and away a better movie than The Jungle Princess, but like the fierce-browed and free-spirited Sabu, Dorothy Lamour casts a screen presence that makes watching her pretty darned enjoyable. Co-star Ray Milland—eh, not so much.  Continue reading WIZ Retro Review: The Jungle Princess starring Dorothy Lamour

WIZ Retro Review: The Wild North

Jules Vincent (marvelously played by Steward Granger) is a happy-go-lucky French trapper making his living off some of the most dangerous country in Canada. He comes to town one day to replenish his supplies.  While there, he rescues a kitten from a bad-tempered collie and an unhappy part-Chippewa woman (Cyd Charisse) from the saloon where she works after gallantly protecting her from a drunken jerk named Brody.   The next morning, Jules sets out for his wilderness home with both the kitten and Indian woman as passengers in his canoe.  Claiming to be a good hand with a paddle, Brody convinces Jules to take him, too.  But Brody’s presence gives rise to danger that threatens everyone in the canoe, and when Jules, the Indian woman, and the kitten arrive at the settlement where the Indian woman is to rejoin her tribe, Brody is mysteriously absent.  Knowing the law will come after him, Jules flees to the wilderness rather than chance a trial where his fate will be determined by city dwellers (“ribbon clerks,” he calls them) who can’t possibly grasp the perils of life in the wilderness. Continue reading WIZ Retro Review: The Wild North

Announcing a new feature: Retro Reviews

Over the last couple of years, my family’s home business has moved into reproducing public domain documents, movies, and other materials to sell on that juggernaut Ebay and, eventually, on our own website.  Recently, I became more involved with writing auction descriptions for old films, some from as far back as the 30s.  To save time (or to employ the illusion of time in a practical manner), I tried writing descriptions from synopses others have written but discovered that many weren’t reliable.  One synopsis writer would seem to have watched an entirely different movie from another writer profiling the same movie.  So to set down the most accurate descriptions I  could, I gave in and started watching the movies I needed to describe.  The job has its ups and downs, but I’m picking up interesting facts and ideas from both the heights, the depths, and the fair-to-middling cinematic ground of Hollywood’s fairest dreams … and unintentional nightmares. Continue reading Announcing a new feature: Retro Reviews