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A short adventure film about the life of a trader in the Amazon.
Approximately two hundred miles upriver from Manaus, Brazil, the Amazon Trader has an outpost, where he trades for diamonds, the poisonous medicine curare and other native goods. "No two days are alike," he says, and then describes other odd jobs he has undertaken: arranging with native tribes for an expedition or missionary to enter their lands, acting as a communication liaison between those inside the jungle and those outside, searching for missing husbands, or rescuing unscrupulous husbands who try to rob the natives. In this exotic place, he is privy to many stories which he likes to tell. First, the Trader tells about Fairing, a young explorer who gets lost from his expedition: After drinking poisoned water, he becomes feverish and would have died, had he not been rescued by a tribe of Indians. They take him to their village, where he is barely aware of the ritual they perform on his behalf. He is given a mysterious substance from a clay plot to eat and for a while, he thinks he sees his body separate from the rest of him. Soon, however, he is well, and although he asks about the contents of the clay pot, no one will tell him its secret. The Trader expects that Fairing, who is now head of a well-known hospital, will someday return in search of the mysterious cure. Although there are two-hundred and forty tribes in the jungle, speaking thirty-seven languages, the various tribes respect their differing customs and taboos. Outsiders are not always so respectful, according to the Trader. He recalls a married couple who seek a strange tribe never seen by a white man and are hoping to finance their expedition by selling photographs of the tribesmen and articles about their experiences in the jungle: As the river they are canoeing narrows, they hear drums and find a cotton ball dyed red that is stuck on the tip of a war spear. Their native guides, who understand the warning, explain that the tip of the spear is poisoned, but the couple is not afraid. Later, the group encounters feathers arranged in a pattern that announces a death sentence if not heeded. The guides abandon the couple, who insist that they want to have at least one picture for their troubles. The Trader will say only that the couple meet with a "sudden ending to months of trial and expectancy." That story reminds the Trader of another, about the Dollsons: Mr. Dollson is a naturalist studying butterflies, which amuses the natives, who consider chasing the insect a child's pleasure. Mrs. Dollson, a woman of high social standing, yearns for adventure and surprises the natives by shooting game, a male activity which sets a bad example for the native women who let their men do the hunting. She further aggravates her neighbors when she shoots a coatimundi, which the natives consider a pet, and a domestic pig. When bringing home the supper she has just shot, Mrs. Dollson sees piranhas swimming toward a child overturned in a canoe. Thinking quickly, she lures the piranhas away by throwing the dead animal into the river. The deadly fish swim toward the blood, the child is saved, and Mrs. Dollson's actions earn her the respect of the village. Now the tribesmen proudly accompany her on jungle hunts and the women of the village help her husband catch butterflies. According to the Trader, ritual torture is common in the jungle. The Trader tells of a tribe who paints their bodies red with the ruku plant: To prove their worthiness, tribesmen are wrapped in a mat imbedded with drugged wasps. When the wasps recover from the drug, they sting the victim for hours. This procedure is administered to the tribesman, who must not cry out, by an older woman. The Trader concedes that the jungle is a beautiful place, but just a few miles off the coast is the now-closed infamous prison on Devil's Island. He then relates the story of a man who escaped from Devil's Island: If a prisoner manages to escape, he is never chased. It is assumed that, without food, weapons or proper clothing, the prisoner will die in the waters or in the jungle. However, the murderous thief Laban escapes and, by luck, encounters members of an Indian village. At first the tribe accepts him into their village and he attempts to befriend them. Then he witnesses a ceremony, during which a woman displays gold and jewels. Later, when he is alone, Laban steals the barrels that he believes contain the treasure. Although he hopes to reach civilization, Laban is unable to travel alone, safe from the dangers of the jungle. Unaware that the Indians replaced the treasure with rocks, Laban finds his cargo increasingly heavy. Returning to the safety of the village, Laban plans to tell the natives that he has merely gone on a short trip. However, when he arrives, the village is deserted and an old woman waits for him, ready to punish him for betraying their trust. According to the Trader, the tribe was known for making shrunken heads. Another man, the missing husband the Trader has been asked to rescue, paddles down river with loot he stole from Indians. As the Indians catch up with the man, the Trader guesses that he may not find them to be "pleasant companions." The Trader continues, "You see, there's no in-between out here. In my big back yard you either win or you lose. For some, the Amazon is their green mansion; for others, a green hell." He closes with an invitation: "If you ever come this way, look me up."
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1956||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Distributions Co:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
|Sound:||Production Co:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
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