|Directed by||William Berke|
|Produced by||Sam Katzman|
|Screenplay by||Carroll Young|
|Story by||Carroll Young|
|Based on||comic strip Jungle Jim|
|Edited by||Aaron Stell|
|Color process||Black and white|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|December 15, 1948|
Jungle Jim is a 1948 American adventure film directed by William Berke and starring Johnny Weissmuller. It is based on Alex Raymond's Jungle Jim comic strip and was distributed by Columbia Pictures. It is the first picture in the Jungle Jim series that consists of 16 films originally released between 1948 and 1955.
In 1954, Columbia turned over its Jungle Jim rights to its television subsidiary, and in the last three films of the motion picture series Weissmuller's character was referred to as "Johnny Weissmuller" instead of Jungle Jim. Devil Goddess (1955) was the last entry in the series, as well as being Weissmuller's last feature film.
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After attempting in vain to save a man from being mauled to death by a leopard, Jungle Jim discovers a vial containing an unknown potion. He takes it to district commissioner Marsden, who identifies it as being from the hidden temple of Zimbalu and brings in Dr. Hilary Parker to head up an expedition with Jim as her guide.
An opportunistic photographer, Bruce Edwards, follows as Dr. Parker seeks what she believes could be a miraculous breakthrough in medicine. Jim is more concerned that witch doctors use what's in the vial as a deadly poison. His trusty ally Kolu comes along and saves Jim when he is pushed off a cliff by Edwards. The favor is returned when Jim rescues Kolu from an attacking lion.
Accidents befall the expedition along the way, as Edwards ingratiates himself with the "devil doctors", only to later incur their wrath. The potion isn't the polio vaccine Hilary hoped it would be, but she expresses a willingness to work again with Jim in future adventures in the jungle.
- Johnny Weissmuller as Jungle Jim
- Virginia Grey as Dr. Hilary Parker
- George Reeves as Bruce Edwards
- Lita Baron as Zia
- Rick Vallin as Kolu – Chief of the Masai
- Holmes Herbert as Commissioner Geoffrey Marsden
Weissmuller had appeared in Tarzan movies since 1932 but in the late 1940s his contract with producer Sol Lesser was about to expire. In February 1948 producer Sam Katzman had signed a five-year deal with Johnny Weissmuller to make "jungle movies" starting with two films a year for two years where the budgets would be at least $350,000. Hedda Hopper reported that these would be an adaptation of the Jungle Jim or King of the Jungle comic strips. William Berke would direct the films.
Initially it was thought there was still a chance Weissmuller might continue as Tarzan as well, but by April 1948 Lex Barker had signed to take over that role and Katzman announced Weissmuller would make Jungle Jim.
Weissmuller dropped out of Tarzan in part because he had been putting on too much weight. Katzman had a penalty clause in his contract with the actor that insisted Weissmuller had to weigh in at 190 pounds or less, or be penalised $5,000 a pound up to ten pounds, or $50,000. The actor's fee was $75,000. "If he can't take it off by exercise he takes it off by worry", said Katzman.
The New York Times said Weissmuller played "a fat, but physically fearless, and miraculously clever jungle guide... foiling witch doctors and white villains much as he's done of old" but added "it's not quite the same old Johnny. And that perceptible rubber tire which shows around his middle when he goes in swimming is not the only evidence of age. A heavy accretion of boredom is in his attitude... maybe it's too much dialogue."
The Jungle Jim feature film series
- Jungle Jim (1948)
- The Lost Tribe (1949)
- Mark of the Gorilla (1950) co-starring Onslow Stevens
- Captive Girl (1950) co-starring Buster Crabbe
- Pygmy Island (1950)
- Fury of the Congo (1951) co-starring Lyle Talbot
- Jungle Manhunt (1951) co-starring Lyle Talbot
- Jungle Jim in the Forbidden Land (1952)
- Voodoo Tiger (1952)
- Savage Mutiny (1953)
- Valley of Head Hunters (1953)
- Killer Ape (1953)
- Jungle Man-Eaters (1954)
- Cannibal Attack (1954)
- Jungle Moon Men (1955) co-starring Myron Healy
- Devil Goddess (1955)
- "SELZNICK TO MOVE OFFICES TO COAST". New York Times. Feb 16, 1948. p. 17.
- Hedda Hopper (Feb 14, 1948). "LOOKING AT HOLLYWOOD". Los Angeles Times. p. 6.
- THOMAS F. BRADY (Apr 27, 1948). "METRO WILL FILM NEW SLATER NOVEL: Studio Buys the Screen Rights to 'Conspirator' for $40,000 -- Story of Russian Spy". New York Times. p. 29.
- Brady, Thomas F. (17 April 1949). "HOLLYWOOD UPSWING: Increased Production Breaks Downward Trend in Employment -- Fox Backs Out". New York Times. p. X5.
- THOMAS M. PRYOR (24 July 1948). "NEWS OF THE SCREEN: Rathvon Submits Resignation as Head of RKO -Will Stay With Firm a 'Reasonable Time'". New York Times. p. 8.
- Schallert, Edwin (Aug 3, 1948). "Metro Offers Milland Lead in 'Conspirator'". Los Angeles Times. p. B5.
- Scott, John L. (Dec 16, 1948). "Ex-Tarzan Talks, Wears Clothes as 'Jungle Jim'". Los Angeles Times. p. B11.
- BOSLEY CROWTHER (Jan 1, 1949). "THE SCREEN: Flesh and Age". New York Times. p. 9.
- "Jungle Jim review". Variety. 22 December 1948. p. 6.