The Naked Jungle
|The Naked Jungle|
Promotional film poster
|Directed by||Byron Haskin|
|Produced by||George Pal|
|Written by||Ranald MacDougall
based on a story by
|Music by||Daniele Amfitheatrof|
|Cinematography||Ernest Laszlo, ASC|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$2.3 million (US)|
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.
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.
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.
The film strongly influenced the 1985 MacGyver episode "Trumbo's World", which also featured clips from the film.