Cast & Crew
S. K. Seeley
In the early 1900s, diamond cutter Tom Dekker sails from New York to his native Holland to look after his seriously ill mother, who dies before he reaches home. De Ruyter, the family's lawyer, reminds Tom that several years before, his father disappeared in Brazil, while looking for rubber plant seeds, which then were more valuable than gold. De Ruyter states that Tom, Sr. was a partner with Cornelius Naarden in the Far East Rubber Co., which became enormously successful after Tom, Sr. sent back some seeds from Brazil and Naarden set up an operation in the East Indies. Naarden is now dead and the company is run by his daughter Anna. Although Tom and Anna were childhood friends, he initiates a suit against her company, claiming the share due his father for having made the initial discovery. During the subsequent trial, Anna's lawyer suggests that Tom's father was involved in an affair with a Brazilian woman and Tom punches him. After his claim is dismissed for lack of evidence, Tom decides to go to Brazil to clear his father's name and to prove that he was indeed working with Naarden. In Brazil, Tom retraces his father's steps in the jungle and journeys to Paribo, the town from which his father was last heard. There, Tom talks with a man named Mariano, who knew his father and advises him to go to a village five kilometers upstream. In the graveyard there, Tom finds his father's grave with a marker erected by his friend José Lobato. Tom goes to a nearby bar and meets the owner's comely daughter Teresa, who is part Portuguese and part English and who later tells him that Lobato lives far away and asks to acompany him there. With two new guides, Tom and Teresa travel by river and on foot. Tom is unclear why Teresa is going with him and she is not sure that he is Tom Dekker, Jr. When a panther attacks Tom, however Teresa shoots it and then nurses him for three days, treating his extensive wounds with native herbs. Teresa tells Tom that she was educated by French Jesuits and wants to remain in the village with her father for the next few years. Eventually, they encounter three armed men who take them to Lobato, a bandit for whose arrest the goverment is offering a substantial reward. Upon being convinced that Tom is his friend's son, Lobato tells him a lengthy story which culminates with his meeting Tom's father, who rescued him from drowning: After Tom, Sr. takes some rubber seeds from a rubber gatherers' camp, he and Lobato leave in a small boat to deliver the seeds to a ship bound for Amsterdam. On the way, they struggle through waters filled with vast numbers of crocodiles. In rapids, one of the five cans containing the rubber seeds goes overboard, and Tom, Sr., worried that the can will be found by the government and they will be pursued, poses as a butterfly hunter. While tracking the rare crocodile head butterfly, Tom, Sr. is attacked by a boa constrictor, but Lobato kills the snake. They are also attacked by piranhas and chased by Indians in canoes. Then, while attempting to keep the rendezvous with the ship, they are almost drowned by a surprise high tide. A police boat arrives on the scene as they float the canisters toward the ship. However, when one canister snags on a piece of floating foliage, Tom, Sr. tries to free it and is shot by the police. Lobato carries him to safety and nurses him, but he develops a fever and dies. In the present, Tom asks Lobato if his father left any papers and Lobato brings him a trunk in which Tom finds the agreement between his father and Naarden, confirming that they were to share profits from the expedition. When Tom promises to return to build a large plantation with his anticipated share, Lobato suggests that he marry Teresa. Back in Amsterdam, De Ruyter petitions for a new trial and although Anna offers to renew their childhood infatuation, Tom goes through with the suit. After winning, Tom returns to Brazil and the waiting Teresa.
S. K. Seeley
Elias H. Reif
A large percentage of the footage in Amazon Quest was derived from a 1938 German production entitled Kautschuk (also known as Die Gruene Hoelle, Caoutchouc-MARAJO and La lutte sans merci.) That film was directed by Eduard von Borsody and starred René Deltgen. Footage of Deltgen is used in Amazon Quest during flashback sequences featuring the character "Thomas Dekker, Sr." Kautschuk itself used footage from a documentary shot in Brazil by two German brothers, Franz and Edgar Eichorn. Von Borsody also shot extensive footage in waters surrounding Kiel, Germany, for Kautschuk.
Kautschuk was based on a true story involving a young Englishman, Henry Wickham, who journeyed to the Amazon in the 1870s to bring back rubber plants. As removing the plants was a capital offense, Wickham traveled disguised as a butterfly hunter. Kautschuk was a popular success, but a modern source notes that, as it extolled British courage and ingenuity, it was not popular with the German government. Under the title Die Gruene Hoelle, Kautschuk opened in New York in January 1939.