Graceful and alluring Dorothy Lamour stars as Ulah, The Jungle Princess, in this chimerical but endearing, black-and-white 1936 Paramount production that launched her career. Ray Milland co-stars as Christopher Powell, a hunter who comes to the Malaysian jungle to capture wild animals but himself falls captive to Ulah’s native beauty, her stunning singing voice, and her child-like candor. The Jungle Princess taps deeply into the fantasy of the orphaned, nature-nurtured child, who by virtue of being human ascends to the throne of wild domains. The roughly contemporary Tarzan franchise starring Olympic medalist Johnny Weissmuller (12 films between 1918 and 1948) and the1942 version of The Jungle Book starring Sabu also capitalized on that tradition. And let’s not forget Johnny Shepherd as Bomba, The Jungle Boy.
When I was a kid, I loved this stuff. Being a semi-nature child myself who kept company with wild animals in the woods and weeds of Virginia, movies of this sort, no matter how silly, made perfect sense. Oscar-nominated The Jungle Book is far and away a better movie than The Jungle Princess, but like the fierce-browed and free-spirited Sabu, Dorothy Lamour casts a screen presence that makes watching her pretty darned enjoyable. Co-star Ray Milland €”eh, not so much. Continue reading “WIZ Retro Review: The Jungle Princess starring Dorothy Lamour”