Why, when she’s Eleanor Parker in a movie aptly titled The Naked Jungle, that's when.
Okay, about that title. Naked Jungle? Huh? Suffice to say it is—naked—by the end. You’ll have to rent it and watch it to find out how that happens. Susan Mallery knows.
Yes, it’s true. Susan loves this movie as much as I do. And that’s a lot.
Where was I? Oh, yeah…
Nobody else—aside from the jungle, I mean—gets naked in this movie. Not Charlton Heston, who was quite the heartthrob back in the day. And certainly not Eleanor Parker. Though she does wear some really cool negligees—clingy and white, with lots of ruffles. Oh, and Charlton goes shirtless now and then, as I recall. He looked really good shirtless, too, if I might say…
I’ve read a number of reviews on this movie and they all remark on how it’s a solid adventure story cloaked in a “rather ordinary” romance.
Oh, those reviewers. They so don’t get it. What this movie’s got and got in abundance, is tension. Heat. Passion. Heston seethes. Parker…palpitates. It’s delicious. Yeah, okay. It’s perhaps a little over the top when judged by picky contemporary sensibilities.
But you know what? Let’s hear it for over-the-top.
Simply put, this is a mail-order bride story. Christopher Leiningen (Heston) has carved a paradise out of the wild, untamable jungle and everything he has in his own personal paradise is brand-new. His piano. His mansion/fortress and all the cool stuff inside.
Christopher, who came to the jungle at 19, is now 34 and has zero knowledge of women (Read: virgin hero, oh yes!) wants a wife. Enter Joanna, his mail-order bride. She’s supposed to be as “new” as all his other possessions. ...
(Spoiler alert. If you do plan to rent this and you don't want to know the plot ahead of time, skip down to the questions in bold at the end.)
For the rest of you, what no one has told Christopher is that Joanna’s a widow (Read: not “new,” but “used.”)
Of course, he’s going to send her back. Even though it’s obvious from the first moment he sees her that this guy is a goner and one way or another, these two will end up together.
Joanna gets to prove why she’s exactly the woman Christopher needs. She does a great job of it, too.
And how is a woman like a piano? As Joanna explains to Christopher, both are better when they’ve been…played.
My fave line from this movie comes near the end, when Joanna’s right there beside him as the ants are at the gates (Yes, army ants, and for those of you reading this spoiler, the ants are what gets the jungle naked). Leiningen turns to all the terrified locals and exhorts them to “Be brave. Like Leiningen’s woman…”
So then. Old movies. What are your favorites? And what are your favorite lines from old movies?