The Naked Jungle

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For the unrelated TV programme, see Naked Jungle.
The Naked Jungle
Promotional film poster
Directed by Byron Haskin
Produced by George Pal
Written by Ranald MacDougall
Ben Maddow
Philip Yordan
based on a story by
Carl Stephenson
Starring Eleanor Parker
Charlton Heston
Abraham Sofaer
William Conrad
Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cinematography Ernest Laszlo, ASC
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • March 3, 1954 (1954-03-03)
Running time
95 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2.3 million (US)[1]

The Naked Jungle is a 1954 film directed by Byron Haskin, and starring Charlton Heston and Eleanor Parker. Telling the story of an attack of army ants on a Brazilian cocoa plantation, it was based on the short story "Leiningen Versus the Ants" by Carl Stephenson.[2]

In 1970, it aired on WVUE-TV in New Orleans, Louisiana as part of its highly publicized switch of channel positions with that city's PBS member station, WYES-TV.[3]


In 1901, mail order bride Joanna (Eleanor Parker) arrives from New Orleans at a South American cocoa plantation to meet her new husband, plantation owner Christopher Leiningen (Charlton Heston), whom she has married by proxy.

Leiningen is cold and remote to her, rebuffing all her attempts to make friends with him. She's beautiful, independent, and arrives ready to be his stalwart helpmate; however, no one has told him she's a widow. He rejects her.

As she awaits the boat to take her back to the United States, they learn that legions of army ants - the "Marabunta" - will strike in a few days' time. Leiningen refuses to give up the home he fought so hard to create. Instead of evacuating, he resolves to make a stand against this indomitable natural predator. Joanna joins the fight to save the plantation; their courage and his probable loss of all he's worked for crack his resolve to send her away.


The screenplay was co-written by Ranald MacDougall and the blacklisted writer Ben Maddow. The film was produced in Technicolor by George Pal, who also made The War of the Worlds, Tom Thumb, and The Time Machine.

Real Marabunta ants are not exactly like the ones in the movie. They don't lie dormant for 27 years and they don't eat large vertebrates. They are also accompanied by Antbirds and various other birds that eat some of what they can't.

William Conrad, who had starred as Leiningen in a 1948 adaptation of Stephenson's story for the radio program Escape, appears in the film as a district commissioner.[4]

The unique "sound" of the ants devouring everything in their path was created by swirling a straw in a glass of water with crushed ice, which was then amplified.

Much of the Rio Negro (Amazon) jungle riverscape, as well as the bridge dynamiting and sluice scenes, are second-unit stock footage shot in Florahome, Florida, according to IMDb.


The film strongly influenced the 1985 MacGyver episode "Trumbo's World", which also featured clips from the film.


  1. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1954', Variety Weekly, January 5, 1955
  2. ^ Bosley Crowther review Retrieved: August 8, 2013.
  3. ^ "WVUE Channel 8 News Collection". Retrieved 22 February 2016. 
  4. ^ Radio drama Retrieved: August 8, 2013.

External links[edit]

Streaming audio