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Duel in the Jungle

Duel in the Jungle(1954)

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The film opens with a title card that reads: "off the coast of Africa" and is followed by a scene depicting David Farrar, as the character "Perry Henderson," diving for diamonds. Opening credits conclude with the following statement: "The producers wish to acknowledge gratefully the assistance granted by the Northern Rhodesia Authorities and The National Parks Board of Trustees, South Africa." Jeanne Crain's name is listed first in the opening credits, but second in the closing cast credits, after Dana Andrews. According to a July 1953 Variety news item, Duel in the Jungle was a joint project of Associated British Picture Corp. and an American syndicate, Moulin Productions, which invested profits from their 1953 independent release, Moulin Rouge .
       Although the copyright states that the screenplay was based on an original story by S. K. Kennedy, a July 1953 Variety article reports that screenwriters Samuel Marx and Tommy Morrison used a German novel originally published in 1942 as its source. An August 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that director George Marshall and producer Marcel Hellman scouted Windsor Castle, Weymouth, Swansea and Gloucester for background scenes. However, the use of these locations in the film has not been confirmed. Interior scenes were filmed at Elstree Studios near London. According to August and September 1953 Hollywood Reporter news items, portions of the film were shot in South Africa at Port Elizabeth, Bechuanaland, Victoria Falls and Johannesburg. An October 1953 Daily Variety news item stated that scenes were shot at Krueger National Park. During production, assistant director Anthony Kelly died when he was thrown from his overturned canoe into a whirlpool on the Zambesi River and then into the jaws of crocodiles. When footage of an elephant stampede shot in Africa was deemed unusable, the scene was re-shot on the Wimbledon Common using trained Indian elephants from a London circus, according to a November 1953 Los Angeles Times news item. To make the elephants look like African elephants, they were fitted with large rubber ears.
       Duel in the Jungle opened in London on June 30, 1954. The Hollywood Reporter review noted that after audiences at a July 29, 1954 Los Angeles preview jeered at the film's ending, Warner Bros. re-edited the final scenes. The Variety review lists the running time of the British release as 105 minutes; reviews of the American version list the running time as 98 min. Reviews of the film were not positive; New York Times described the plot as "feeble and contrived" and Variety mentioned "trite lines" and the "improbabilities of the plot." The Hollywood Reporter reviewer, Jack Moffitt, who had read Sam Marx's original script and was familiar with director George Marshall's previous work, blamed the producers, Marcel Hellmen and Tony Owen, for "bad ideas about story and about editing" and for "hamstringing" their employees. A December Daily Variety news item reported that the Independent Theatre Owners of Ohio believed that Warner Bros.' trailer of the film, which credited Associated British Productions for production as well as distribution, was killing the film's chances for box office success in Ohio by emphasizing its British origins. The ITOO commented that it seemed that Warner Bros. "doesn't even want to take credit for distributing the picture."