Four Frightened People


1h 18m 1934

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 26, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Four Frightened People by E. Arnot Robertson (New York, 1931).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

Off the Malayan coast, four people escape from a pleasure cruise that is infested with bubonic plague, and are forced to plunge into the jungle with Montague, a guide. Judy Jones, a prim Chicago schoolteacher, is more worried about sleeping close to her two male companions, Stewart Corder, a famous journalist and Arnold Ainger, an introverted chemist, than she is about the dangers of the jungle. Her spirits are fortified by the gregarious socialite Mrs. Fifi Mardick, however. As the men find Judy unattractive, they try to soothe her nerves by telling her they do not think of her as a woman. After three exhausting days, Montague admits they are lost. Judy worships Stewart as a hero after he saves her from a deadly cobra, and she attempts to ingratiate herself on him. Her attempt fails miserably, however, when she accidentally burns his only shoes. Unable to deal with his fury and both men's disregard of her, Judy strikes out on her own. Her companions find her surrounded by the Semang tribe, who request payment of rice in exchange for safe passage through their territory. The natives tie up the men and take Mrs. Mardick hostage, threatening to kill her if they do not return within one month with the rice. After this experience, Judy takes command of the remaining group, ordering Montague to cut the men down. Her self-confidence makes her more alluring, and Stewart and Arnold vie for her affection. In time, Arnold and Judy fall in love, despite the fact that he has a wife back home. He, too, has grown more confident, and feels more manly than he ever did in civilization. The group discovers they have been walking in circles. After returning to the camp, Stewart shoots what he thinks is a monkey, but is actually a Sakai pygmy. When Montague tries to appease the pygmies by offering some of the rice shipment they hope to get when they find civilization, he is killed by an arrow through his throat. Before he dies, he tells his friends that the Sakai will be forever disgraced because they have killed a white man, which is against their beliefs. When another pygmy attacks Stewart, Arnold takes an arrow that was meant for Judy, and he collapses. The natives tie Judy and Arnold to a tree while Stewart goes for water, and when he returns he releases them. In the meantime, Mrs. Mardick is ousted from the village because she has been teaching the women birth control. The chief agrees that the birth rate will be up to women from henceforth, and Mrs. Mardick is escorted to town. Arnold recovers from his wound, and Stewart finally leads them out of the jungle. When Arnold returns to his home, his wife cannot understand why he did not write her a letter, and believes herself to be the laughing-stock of her friends because of her neglectful husband. Arnold wholeheartedly agrees to a divorce. Stewart gains even more fame by relating his adventures over the radio, as does Mrs. Mardick. Judy returns to the classroom, but her class is interrupted one day by Arnold, who leads her out of the classroom, into his life.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 26, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Four Frightened People by E. Arnot Robertson (New York, 1931).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Due to nitrate deterioration, the last reel of this film was unviewable. The release dialogue script in the Paramount script files at the AMPAS Library provided the conclusion for the plot synopsis. A news item in Hollywood Reporter notes that Paramount sought to replace Claudette Colbert when she fell ill with appendicitis and negotiated with Gloria Swanson for the role. Swanson's salary demands forced Paramount to wait for Colbert's recovery from an appendectomy. Film Daily reported that Colbert had only one week to recover before she joined the cast on location in Hawaii. Modern sources indicate that Cecil B. DeMille considered casting Elissa Landi when Colbert fell ill, but she was unavailable. Colbert reportedly fell ill after being immersed in a swamp-like pond not long after her arrival on location. The film's opening credits note that "all exterior scenes...were actually photographed in the strange jungles on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in the South Pacific." The volcanic mountains here noted are part of the Hawaiian Islands. Modern sources also include the following credits: Assistant Director, James Dugan; Production Manager, Roy Burns; Music, Karl Hajos, Milan Roder, Heinz Roemheld and John Leipold. A 1956 article in New York Times reports that DeMille counted this film as one of his notable failures. Although it only cost $280,000 to make, the film did not even make up its cost at the box office.