Queen of the Amazons

Director: Edward Finney

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

What a misnomer title is Queen of the Amazons (1947). There are no amazons in the story. There are three or four stranded white women who've adapted to life in the jungle by making themselves some jungle girl costumes rather than trying to get back to civilization, with no reason given for them remaining in the jungle. They attend a double wedding during the film's happy ending, but otherwise aren't much in evidence, as the jungle tribes proper consist mainly of native black men, most of those in stock footage borrowed from other jungle movies or travel newsreels not all from the same part of Africa.

The one who likens herself "queen" is Zita (Amira Moustafa) alluded to early in the story as the "white goddess." She lives in the jungle in a nice western style house with some tribal people nearby in grass huts, & appears to have been in league with ivory smugglers at some point in the past, but has broken off with smugglers because she fell in love with Greg (Bruce Edwards) & they set up their idyllic jungle home together.

The film actually starts out impressive, as it is intercut with some very nice travelogue footage. The main cast arrives in "Akbar" which they allege is in "the far east" & have most of their scenes in a hotel. When they are occasionally outside the hotel standing in front of nothing interesting, they point at stuff "over there" as the film cuts away to improved cinematography of an elephants' parade, an elephants' tug of war, market scenes, & some random footage some of it Arabic some probably Southeast Asian.

As this footage has nothing whatsoever to do with the story to be told, & is not even in the right part of the world, our key characters find a clue having to do with Africa, then set off by airplane in search of the missing explorer Greg Jones, who is the fiance of Jean Preston (Patricia Morison) who doesn't know her beau is being unfaithful shacking up with Zita.

They arrive in "Akbo" where in order to poiknt at more stock footage this time of black tribal folks. Our cast goes on safari with jungle porters in search of wayward Greg alleged to be the captive of a White Goddess though really just living in a nice house with Zita. Although he's supposed to engaged to Jean (Patricia Morison) who is convinced something unfortunate has befallen her beau, he's really just being a hound dog.

We see wrestling with a tiger & later with a too obviously tame lion, & interestingly enough the lion turns up again later as Zita's pet so I guess it was supposed to be as harmless as it looked during its feeble "attack" against the safari. The rest of the wildlife tends to be more of the "look over there" type stock footage.

One extended set of sequences appears to be an only partially faked-for-tourists lion hunt absolutely nothing to do with the story though a voice over trumps up some thin excuse to ignore the entire cast while showing the lion hunt. The vast amount of unrelated footage was probably purchased wholesale from a newsreel company. This "feature" is only 61 minutes long & it looks as though about half of that is stock footage, so no wonder it doesn't tell much of a story.

After a climactic battle in which black guys are beating each other up & white guys are shooting some of the black guys & burning down their huts (no evidence of alleged Amazons in any of the battlex), no one who matters even gets hurt, the key bad guy gets to have a hammy death scene, & there's a double marriage with lots of smiles including forgiving Jean even though Zita is her fiance's bride.

Only one actor was any good, J. Edward Bromberg plays Gabby the cook who starts out such a charming fellow but turns out to be so duplicitous, for whom ultimately only a small cappuchin monkey could ever grieve. He's one of those interesting character actors you see in so many films of the 1930s & 1940s (Bromberg mainly in westerns) but who rarely get to be center stage. So you recognize the face but not the name. This is likely one of his biggest roles, small though it is, & he steals the show, not that there was much show to swipe.

Anyone old enough to remember when afternoon television programming included old black & white movies may have seen this as a child & been fooled into thinking they saw a real jungle movie of some sort. Such a viewer might get a charge out of seeing it again & realizing for the first time what a lame hoodwinking pretense of a film it really is.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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