Cast & Crew
In an African jungle territory, local tribes are terrorized by what they believe are mystical spirits, but which are in reality men dressed in costumes. These costumed men and a pistol-wielding white man lead other natives in attacks on the villages and kidnap their men. During one assault, Bono, a village chieftain, escapes. On the river, expert guide Jungle Jim rescues photographer Anne Lawrence when her boat overturns in the rapids. Anne explains she is searching for a former all-American football hero, pilot Bob Miller, who disappeared nine years during a routine flight over the jungle, and asks Jim to serve as her guide. Jim, advised by a native about an upcoming council of tribal chiefs to discuss the continuing attacks, wonders whether Bob may be the man leading them. At the meeting, Bono asks Jim to lead a tribal army against the unknown aggressors. Jim believes he should learn the foe's identity and motives and agrees to take Anne and Bono on his scouting expedition. When the trio arrives at the last charted village in the Sengali territory, the natives describe a mysterious white man, who they report, controls the power of thunder. That night as the group sleeps, a stranger steals into their cabin, awakening Jim. When he follows the man outside, the costumed men appear on the village outskirts, and in moments the village is under attack. As the village is set ablaze, Jim leads Bono and Anne through the jungle toward the river, followed by several natives. Unexpectedly, the stranger emerges from the trees and hurls small explosives at the pursuing natives before leading the trio to a raft by the river. Once on shore the stranger identifies himself as Bob Miller and summons friendly natives to assist them. They all make their way to a village, where Bob has been accepted as leader for introducing irrigation, a steel forge and other conveniences. Bob admits knowing about the mysterious attacks on other villages, but refuses to become involved as long as his village remains safe. Later, when Bob and Anne go for a swim, he explains that nine years earlier he crashed and, in order to repay the generosity of the natives who tended him, he stayed on. Bob also admits a reluctance to return to the business interests held by his family and an enjoyment of his exalted status among the locals. When a messenger reports to Bob that the village hunting party has fallen under attack by the skeleton men, he agrees to help Jim and Bono. They decide to explore the dangerous unknown Monagechi land and early into their journey, witness a fierce battle between two dinosaur-like creatures. Shortly afterward, the group is captured by the skeleton men and separated. Jim's companion chimpanzee, Tamba, finds Jim and unties him. Upon investigating, Jim discovers the missing village men and Bob toiling deep in a mine. Jim is soon caught by Dr. Mitchell Heller, an industrial chemist who brings Anne and Bono to the mine and explains that he has discovered qualities in the rocks that allow him to manufacture synthetic diamonds, which are nearly impossible to distinguish from genuine ones. However, the chemical process creates radiation that kills off the workers, necessitating raids for fresh laborers. To help Jim escape, Bob creates a disturbance and Jim sneaks away. Heller, meanwhile, demands that Anne help him transport his phony diamonds abroad in her film cans. Jim returns to the camp and rescues Anne, and the two take explosives and a detonator used for blasting new tunnels in the mine. Jim plans to blow up the inlet directly over the mining entrance and flood the mine. Disguised as a native, Jim slips back into the mine, frees Bob to go for help and advises Bono of the plan. Acting on a prearranged signal from Jim, Bob and his natives rush Heller's camp, and Bono leads the men out of the mine just before Anne sets off the explosives. Heller takes a stash of the fake diamonds and flees, but is pursued by Jim and the natives across dangerous cliffs, where he falls to his death. After the villagers are freed and the native police summoned, Anne decides to remain with Bob in his village.
William P. Wilkerson
The working title of this film was Jungle Jim in the Forbidden Land. Although onscreen credits say "Introducing Bob Waterfield," Waterfield made a brief appearance in Columbia's 1948 film, Triple Threat, playing himself. Waterfield, who was a star quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams football team, was married to actress Jane Russell at the time he appeared in Jungle Manhunt. 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.