Jungle Girl (serial)

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Jungle Girl
Directed by William Witney
John English
Produced by Hiram S. Brown Jr
Written by Alfred Batson
Ronald Davidson
Norman S. Hall
William Lively
Joseph O'Donnell
Joseph F. Poland
Edgar Rice Burroughs(novel)
Starring Frances Gifford
Tom Neal
Trevor Bardette
Gerald Mohr
Eddie Acuff
Frank Lackteen
Cinematography Reggie Lanning
Distributed by Republic Pictures
Release date
  • June 21, 1941 (1941-06-21) (U.S. serial)[1]
  • April 19, 1947 (1947-04-19) (U.S. re-release)[1]
Running time
15 chapters (265 min)[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $171,415 (negative cost: $177,404)[1]

Jungle Girl is a 1941 15-chapter Republic Pictures serial starring Frances Gifford. It was directed by William Witney and John English based on the novel Jungle Girl (1932) by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was the 22nd of the 66 serials produced by Republic.


Dr. John Meredith, ashamed at the crime spree of his twin, Bradley, travels with his daughter, Nyoka, to Africa. There his skills as a doctor displace Shamba, the resident Witch Doctor of the Masamba. Years later, Slick Latimer and Bradley Meredith arrive looking for a local diamond mine and team up with the disgruntled Shamba. Bradley kills his brother John and takes his place. Fortunately, they also brought along Jack Stanton and Curly Rogers, who promptly join Nyoka in trying to stop the villains.



The serial was officially based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' Jungle Girl novel.[4] Nevertheless, it bore almost no resemblance to the novel, which had no character named "Nyoka" and was about an Asian princess, not a white woman living in Africa. Like many Republic adaptations, the contract to use a character called the Jungle Girl meant that showings of the serial after a set date were banned.[3]

Filming on Jungle Girl took place between March 25 and May 9, 1941. At forty-five days this shares the title of second longest shoot for a Republic serial with Secret Service in Darkest Africa (1943).[1] The serial's production number was 1096.[1]

The serial's production budget $171,415 but the negative cost rose to $177,404 (over budget by $5,989, or 3.5%). This was the most expensive Republic serial of 1941.[1]

Jungle Girl was the first sound serial to have a female lead.[3]

The serial was successful enough that a semi-sequel, Perils of Nyoka, was produced in 1942. To avoid paying Burroughs a second time for the rights, the sequel used only the original material created by Republic Pictures for Jungle Girl (such as the name Nyoka). It did not use any of Burroughs' material or the title of his novel.


Dave Sharpe only doubled for Frances Gifford in the vine-swinging scenes. According to director William Witney, when Gifford first saw Sharpe in her costume she commented that he looked prettier than she did.[5] All of Gifford's non-vine swinging stunts were performed by Helen Thurston.

Special effects[edit]

The effects in this serial were, as with all Republic serials, produced by the Lydecker brothers.



Jungle Girl's official release date is 21 June 1941, although this is actually the date the seventh chapter was made available to film exchanges.[1]

The serial was re-released on 19 April 1947 between the first runs of Son of Zorro and Jesse James Rides Again. It was the first Republic serial to be re-released in this way.[1]

Chapter titles[edit]

  1. Death by Voodoo (27min 53s)
  2. Queen of Beasts (17min 11s)
  3. River of Fire (16min 45s)
  4. Treachery (16min 43s)
  5. Jungle Vengeance (16min 44s)
  6. Tribal Fury (16min 55s)
  7. The Poison Dart (16min 39s)
  8. Man Trap (16min 50s)
  9. Treasure Tomb (16min 43s)
  10. Jungle Killer (17min 41s)
  11. Dangerous Secret (16min 41s)
  12. Trapped (16min 44s)
  13. Ambush (16min 40s)
  14. Diamond Trail (16min 53s)
  15. Flight to Freedom (17min 28s)


Remade as Panther Girl of the Kongo[edit]

In 1955 Republic's penultimate serial was the 12-part Panther Girl of the Kongo starring Phyllis Coates as Jean Evans. This was essentially a low-budget reworking of the Jungle Girl character. Coates, who resembles Francis Gifford, wears an identical costume. This made it possible to reuse a significant amount of footage from the 1941 series, thus saving on production costs. Many of the stunts and action sequences (Panther Girl riding an elephant, swinging on vines, diving off a cliff, etc.) were taken from Jungle Girl.[3]

Jungle Girl tribute/documentary[edit]

In 1984, filmmaker Richard Myers produced a documentary/experimental film, also titled Jungle Girl, which included audio interviews with Frances Gifford in which she discusses her career and the shooting of the film. The visual part of the film is an impressionistic recreation of moments from the serial. Myers, as a child, was strongly influenced by this serial and he used this creative process to explore his own childhood and his love of movies.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Mathis, Jack (1995). Valley of the Cliffhangers Supplement. Jack Mathis Advertising. pp. 3, 10, 54–55. ISBN 0-9632878-1-8. 
  2. ^ Cline, William C. (1984). "5. A Cheer for the Champions (The Heroes and Heroines)". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 93. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X. 
  3. ^ a b c d Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut (1973). "1. The Girls "Who Is That Girl in the Buzz Saw?"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. pp. 10, 12, 14, 17. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9. 
  4. ^ Cline, William C. (1984). "2. In Search of Ammunition". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 11. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X. 
  5. ^ Witney, William. In a Door, Into a Fight, Out a Door, Into a Chase: Moviemaking Remembered by the Guy at the Door. (McFarland & Company) ISBN 0-7864-2258-0
  6. ^ Cline, William C. (1984). "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 230. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X. 

External links[edit]