Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1927. Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation. Screenplay by Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, titles by Achmed Abdullah. Cinematography by Ernest B. Schoedsack. Produced by Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack. Music by Bruce Gaston.
Wonderfully crafted adventure film that works as part documentary, part staged adventure. Filmed in the jungles of Siam with unprofessional actors, directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack (who would later do King Kong) show scenes of a family living in the jungle. Their daily life revolves around working their land and protecting themselves from the plentiful array of vicious predators that the hostile environment provides, mostly in the form of wild cats. Although culturally out of touch at times (the intertitles often write the natives’ dialogue in pidgin English), the film is a richly cultural experience with lots of fantastic wildlife footage. The scenes involving the baby elephant (which is Chang in the native language), followed by his herd’s stampede, are fantastically shot, though what the poor little creature ever did to them in the first place I’ll never know.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Unique and Artistic Picture