Call of the Jungle

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Adventure/Mystery/Romance, USA, 1944, 60 min.


Synopsis On the tropical island of Tapu, Tana, a pretty native girl, flirts with Malu, a member of her tribe. Their flirtation is interrupted by the angry sound of Chief Kahuna's drum, summoning them to camp. Tana and Malu hurry to Kahuna's side, and soon after Jim Forbes, the new police chief of Tapu, comes to investigate the meaning of the drums. After announcing that two sacred black pearls have been stolen, Kahuna declares that he will find the thief and bring him to justice. When Jim protests that the recovery of the pearls is his responsibility, Kahuna replies that the tribe will kill all foreigners unless the pearls are found. Meanwhile, at Louie's Hotel and Bar in town, Harley, the owner of the trading post, waits with pearl hunters Boggs and Carlton for the arrival of Dozan, the pearl buyer. As Louie, the bartender, bickers over money with his gold-digginig fiancé Gracie, Tana arrives at the bar and warns Harley about dealing with Boggs and Carlton, whom she suspects of stealing the jewels. Soon after, Jim arrives at the bar, sits down at the piano and transfixes Tana as he begins to play. After finishing the piece, Jim questions Boggs and Carlton about the theft of the pearls. Although they protest their innocence, Jim searches them but finds nothing. After Jim leaves, Dozan appears and Carlton displays the pearls, which he had hidden in his shotglass. Harley, shocked, is about to turn them over to Jim when Dozan threatens to accuse him of complicity in the theft if he notifies the law. Infuriated, Harley threatens to kill Dozan. After Dozan buys the pearls and enters the jungle that night, he is stabbed by an unseen assailant, who takes the pearls and flees. Later, Tana finds Dozan's body with Harley's knife in his back and a piece of loin cloth lying next to it. To protect her friend, Tana awakens Harley from his sleep and hides him in her jungle cave. Suspecting that Harley killed Dozan, Jim follows them into the jungle, where a slingshot-wielding figure wounds him with a piece of poisoned coral. Upon finding the unconscious Jim, Harley and Tana carry him to the cave, and Tana treats him with a poultice to cure the poison. After Jim regains consciousness, Tana defends Harley, but Jim remains determined to arrest him. When Jim finally discovers his hiding place, Harley claims that he blacked out from drinking soon after Dozan left the bar. Later, at Louie's Bar, as Boggs, Carlton, Louie and Gracie discuss the events, Jim, accompanied by Tana and Harley, enters the room. Jim accuses Carlton and Boggs of stealing the pearls, then begins to pound out the tune of a native death chant on the piano, agitating his audience. Soon after, Malu comes to warn of impending danger and escort Tana back to her village. When Tana notices that Malu is wearing a torn loin cloth, she alerts Jim about the shred of cloth she found next to Dozan's body. Realizing that Malu must have witnessed the murder, Jim takes him into a nearby hut to question him. Just as Malu is about to speak the name of the killer, he is stabbed in the back by a spear thrust through an open window. With his dying words, Malu identifies the murderer as "a man with no hands and three legs." As the sound of the death drums beat ominously in the distance, Jim informs the group at Louie's bar of Malu's death and warns of certain doom unless the murderer is found. After conferring with Tana for help, Jim sends her back to the village to ask Kahuna to postpone the attack and search the other side of the island for the stolen pearls. Kahuna complies with Tana's request, but after a search fails to find the pearls, the group reassembles at the village. After announcing that Harley is innocent, Jim entreats Kahuna to expose the murderer. Repeating that the killer has "no hands and three legs," the blind Kahuna asks Tana to act as his eyes. As Gracie, Louie, Carlton and Boggs, the remaining suspects, are seated with a lit candle behind each of them, Tana points at each candle, proclaiming that she will extinguish all the flames except the one illuminating the killer. As she points at Louie's candle, Louie bolts from his seat and tries to escape but is stopped by the natives. After Louie stuffs his hands in his pockets, Tana identifies him as the man with no hands and three legs, as his cane is considered a third leg by the natives and his hands are hidden in his pockets. Taking Louie's cane, Jim examines it and, finding the pearls inside, returns them to Kahuna. Jim then explains that the candles were a ruse to trap the killer and that the flames were extinguished by a native blowing darts from a blowgun. After arresting Louie, Jim follows Tana into the jungle and they kiss.

Directed by Phil Rosen  

Starring Ann Corio, James Bush, John Davidson, Claudia Dell, Eddy Chandler, more...

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