Cast & Crew
Along the crocodile-infested Magi River, which runs through Cannibal Valley, jungle expert Johnny Weissmuller discovers a dead man on the shore and is chased away by a young native woman, Luora, and Rovak, a local man who is working with the white colonists. Upon reporting to the area commissioner, Johnny learns that the dead man was part of colony leader John King's mining outfit, which has been providing precious cobalt to the government. Luora, King's ward, and Rovak are part of the mining group, but Johnny wonders if they might be responsible for the man's murder. Luora and Rovak are equally suspicious of Johnny. When King and the commissioner admit that the last cobalt transport has been stolen, Johnny offers to investigate further. King mentions that his estranged brother Arnold is employed at the cobalt mine as a laborer and might be of assistance. As Johnny heads up the Magi, a number of natives disguised in crocodile skins attack his canoe, but Johnny and his pet chimpanzee Kimba escape unhurt. Luora, who has followed Johnny, confides her and the colonists' admiration for King and reveals that King broke with Arnold because of his drinking problem. When Johnny insists on meeting Arnold, Luora departs angrily. Continuing toward the mine, Johnny hears a struggle ahead and saves a man from a leopard attack. The man is Arnold, who explains that earlier he had been following the stolen cobalt transport, but hid upon seeing Rovak and Luora as he did not want his brother to know his actions and was unable to see who was responsible for the theft. When Johnny suggests that the Shenzis, a cannibal tribe said to have power over crocodiles, may be involved, Arnold is skeptical. At the cobalt mine, Johnny is surprised to learn that Arnold is in charge, and Arnold admits that he discovered the valuable cobalt vein. Inside the mine, Kimba douses the lamp and in the dark Johnny is attacked by a figure, who leaves behind a club with a crocodile jaw attached. Johnny realizes that a similar device was used to kill the man at the river, in an attempt to make the death look like a crocodile attack. Later in the jungle, Johnny spots Rovak's assistant Jason with several Shenzis. Johnny reports his suspicions about the Shenzis' involvement to the commissioner, who is doubtful. Luora again rejects Johnny's suggestion that Rovak is involved and maintains that Arnold is the likely culprit. Johnny then advises the commissioner and King to accompany the next cobalt transport. On the day of the shipment, Johnny secretly follows Rovak's motorboat pulling the transport barge and sees Rovak delay the shipment. Johnny is attacked by a giant eagle, however, and falls from a small hill and lies dazed as Rovak and his cohorts arrange an ambush on the transport with the Shenzis. Farther down the river, the commissioner and King meet with Arnold, who suspects that his brother is stealing his own shipments, and doubts there will be any problem with the shipment if King is along. When the commissioner and King's boat develops engine problems, Arnold meets Rovak to tow the barge and, as planned, the Shenzis provoke the crocodiles into attacking the barge. Arnold escapes, but several workers die. When the barge drifts downstream unattended, Rovak and his men unload the cobalt onshore. The commissioner is convinced the thefts have been the result of Shenzi-induced crocodile attacks, but Johnny insists the Shenzis have been coerced into their behavior. Returning to the jungle, Johnny is secretly followed both by Luora and Arnold. After Arnold joins Johnny, the men come upon a cave filled with supplies and Luora fakes being attacked by a native in crocodile skins to lure them outside. When the men return to the cave, Luora has Rovak and his henchmen overpower Johnny and Arnold. Luora admits that she is half Shenzi and their princess and is attempting to restore Cannibal Valley to her people by selling the cobalt to Rovak's government. Rovak admits that King became involved in the plot afer Luora seduced him. Rovak and Luora depart to load up another cobalt transport, leaving Johnny and Arnold under native guard. Kimba slips inside the cave and frees the men, who escape. Johnny finds King and the commissioner loading another transport and tells the commissioner about Luora and Rovak's plot, but King refuses to believe him. Luora pretends she is a victim of a crocodile attack, then steals away to warn Rovak of Johnny's escape. Believing Luora dead, King confesses and the commissioner places him under arrest. Luora convinces Rovak they can continue the scheme together, and they attack King's barge only to discover Johnny and several government men hiding on board. In the ensuing fight, Luora knifes King and is shot by the commissioner, while Johnny drowns Rovak in the river. Arnold is later elected the new head of the colony and promises a steady supply of cobalt to the government.
Joseph A. Allen Jr.
According to information in the copyright file, the film was released in sepia, but the print viewed was in black and white. Cannibal Attack marked the first time that Johnny Weissmuller, who had been starring in Columbia's "Jungle Jim" series since 1948, played a character named Johnny Weissmuller. In early 1954, with the cessation of the comic strip on which that film series was based, Weissmuller's character was no longer called "Jungle Jim" but was a character very similar him, an expert-guide who, along with his chimpanzee companion, helped the local government maintain law and order in the African jungle. Cannibal Attack marked the debut of the chimpanzee Kimba, who replaced Jungle Jim's companion, Tamba. For more information on the "Jungle Jim" series, please see the entry for Jungle Jim in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 and consult the Series Index.