powered by AFI
Douglas Temple, a young adventurer searching for phosphorous deposits in New Guinea, persuades attractive archeologist Dr. Sybil Greame to allow him to join her expedition. She reluctantly grants permission to Douglas and his associate, Otto Kreps, who accompany her and Father "Pop" Dillingham, a Catholic missionary, to the interior of the island. Upon arrival, Douglas and Otto scatter some old bones around the area to retain Sybil's interest. Later, she finds a skull that she believes may be the missing link between man and ape; the group then discovers an ape-man tribe, which they name the Tropis. They befriend the ape-people, and Otto becomes attracted to Topazia, a young female. Sybil radios news of their discovery to Vancruysen, the financier of the expedition, who flies in immediately to see the newly discovered species. Douglas is horrified to learn that Vancruysen intends to breed the Tropis and sell them as slaves. The two adventurers then take Topazia away from the interior, in the hope of persuading the world that the Tropis are more human than animal. Upon arriving at Sydney, Australia, Douglas discovers that Topazia has been impregnated by Otto. When she delivers a stillborn child, a doctor is summoned to sign a death certificate, and Douglas asserts that he murdered the infant to gain publicity. The resulting trial becomes a political circus, with testimony coming both from black power advocates and white supremacists. When Topazia is brought into court as a caged exhibit, she escapes in panic and is killed. The judge, stating that society rather than the court must decide whether the ape-men are animal or human, frees Douglas.