Wild Cargo (film)

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Wild Cargo
Wild Cargo (1934) film poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Armand Denis
Produced by Amedee J. Van Beuren
Written by Frank Buck
Edward Anthony
Courtney Ryley Cooper (dialogue and narration)
Starring Frank Buck
Music by Winston Sharples
Cinematography Leroy G. Phelps, Nicholas Cavaliere
Edited by Sam B. Jacobson
Distributed by RKO
Release date
  • April 6, 1934 (1934-04-06)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Wild Cargo was a 1934 jungle adventure documentary starring Frank Buck. Buck depicts the ingenious methods by which he traps wild birds, mammals and reptiles. Many scenes were photographed on the vast Malayan estates of Buck's friend, Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, who appears in person in the film.[1]


Among the scenes in the film are:

  • a python's escape from its box; Buck recaptures the giant snake.
  • a fight to the death between a black panther and a python in which the python comes off victorious
  • Buck traps a man-eating tiger
  • a python crawls in between the bars of a pig pen and swallows the pig; the snake has imprisoned itself, for with the pig inside it, it could not extricate itself from the pen
  • a python attacks Buck in the jungle, and Buck must shoot the huge snake to save his own life
  • a king cobra escapes from its box and attacks Buck

Behind the camera[edit]

Director Armand Denis (seated right) with RKO exhibitors and poster for Wild Cargo (ca. 1934)

Cameraman Leroy G. Phelps was nearly crippled by an infection he acquired after scratching himself on a poisonous renghus plant. Buck and Phelps were almost trampled by a herd of stampeding water buffalo; they were spared only when the animals changed direction at the last moment.[2]


According to the New York Times, "Although it may seem as though several incidents in the screen work were prearranged, they are nevertheless quite thrilling."[3]

The film earned RKO a profit of $100,000.[4]


  1. ^ SULTAN TO VIEW FILM AT RKO. Los Angeles Times, May 10, 1934 p. 15
  2. ^ Wesley S. Griswold. "Stalking Asia's fiercest wildlife with a movie camera involved New Haven photographer in thrilling adventures". Hartford Courant, April 8, 1934, p. D1
  3. ^ "The Screen". Mordaunt Hall. New York Times, March 30, 1934
  4. ^ Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p72