Cast & Crew
This documentary follows a Central and South American expedition led by explorer Lewis Cotlow. The travelogue begins on the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama, where the crew visit the San Blas Indians. The narrator describes their colorful dress and notes that the chief product of the island is coconuts. Continuing their travels to the Port of Belem off the coast of Brazil, the crew take a riverboat up the Amazon River, detouring up a tributary, where they spot many wild birds, including toucans, egrets and papguayos. After a brief encounter with a tribe known as the Bororos, who reveal their fishing techniques, they canoe to a section of the river in Peru to visit the Yagua tribe. Male members of the tribe take the crew on a leopard hunt using blowguns and then return to the camp to celebrate. The next stop is the Guano Islands, off the coast of Peru, where seals and guanyos are prevalent. The crew return to the coast to visit with the Colorados Indians, who use red paste made from a native seed to cover their bodies and that of the narrator's, who joins them in decorating his body. The crew then travel to the western base of the Andes Mountains in search of the "hot-tempered" Jivaro tribe. As a result of the Jivaros' religious beliefs that they must seek revenge for the murder of any member of their own family, they have become headhunters. The narrator describes the entire process, from the murder and decapitation to the boiling water process used to shrink the heads. The film closes with narrator commenting that "only men crueler than nature can survive" in the wild terrain of the Amazon jungle.
Joel F. Moss
According to the onscreen credits listed in the cutting continuity found in the film's copyright record, it was "made in the course of the Lewis Cotlow Amazon Expeditions." The cutting continuity also provided narration text used as the basis of the summary above. According to a May 1, 1951 Daily Variety news item, some stock footage used in Jungle Headhunters was taken from the 1942 film Jacaré (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50).
Portions of Jungle Headhunters were shot on location on the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama, the port of Belem on the coast of Brazil, on the Amazon River, on the Guano Island off the coast of Peru, at various locations in the Amazon jungle and in the Andes Mountains. The tribe called in the summary the "San Blas Indians" are currently known as the "Cuna" Indians.